Imbolc is celebrated at the beginning of February, marking the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The word “imbolc” is believed to mean “ewe’s milk” as this is the time of year when the sheep were giving birth and producing milk, the first stirrings of new life in the midst of winter, hints that snows are melting and that spring is approaching. The world is on the cusp of wonderful new creations, full of yet unrealized potentials.
To celebrate this hopeful holiday, I give you a delicious milk punch of goat’s milk and melted snow infused with rosemary (remembering winter) and flavored with the botanicals of gin and orange bitters (anticipating spring).
Snowmelt Rosemary Syrup
Snow – a heaping quarter cup (or use ice to melt symbolically)
Sugar – a quarter cup (you just want an equal amount to the melted snow)
Rosemary – two fresh sprigs
We’ve just had a record-setting blizzard in NYC, so snow is plentiful here. I gathered some snow during the storm and stashed it in my freezer for magical purposes. If you live someplace with snow, you could do the same, or you could use ice as a symbolic substitute.
Put the snow into a saucepan with the sugar and heat it on low, stirring occasionally. As it melts, visualize the transformation of the winter landscape to a spring one with shoots of green emerging from the earth. Roughly chop the rosemary leaves and add them to the pot. Notice how they resemble spring greenery overtaking the barren ground. Continue stirring until the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then strain into a container.
Snowmelt Milk Punch
2 oz. goat’s milk (cow can also be used if goat or sheep is unavailable, or any number of dairy-free milks could also be substituted, but they should be unsweetened)
1.5 oz. gin
0.5 oz Snowmelt Rosemary Syrup (or more to taste)
1 generous dash orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the outside is as well-frosted as a February morning. Pour into a chalice and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
Savor the sweet milk, the color of winter snow, but nectar of new life, flavored with the herbs and plants that will soon sprout, nurtured by the melted snow. The taste of new beginnings. As you sip, ponder what nascent miracles are stirring within you, eager to manifest as the seasons turn.