We have made it through the winter solstice and anticipated end-of-year-holidays are officially upon us. The solstice has long been celebrated throughout the world and often the term refers to the extreme winter. One of the most notable features of the solstice is that it marks the shortest day of the year — I hope you all took advantage of the extra evening hours and poured yourself a cocktail or three. To continue the celebration of winter and completion of this past year, I thought I would share a cocktail recipe that features the brighter side of this severe season. Often the winter months can be seen as dark and barren, but even in these cold months, the world is lush with growth. Cranberries have just been harvested and citrus is in its sweetest and ripest state.

The Solstice Elixir is a spirit-forward cocktail that features these bright winter offerings. With Bulleit Bourbon and two types of bitters, the Solstice Elixir is the perfect drink to accompany a festive occasion or rich holiday meal. The cranberry-ginger syrup (recipe below) is both sweet and bright with a nip of spiciness to really balance the cocktail out — the combination of fresh cranberry and ginger soaked in whiskey creates the kind of comfort one normally attributes to bonfire sing-a-longs and the smell of mesquite smoke in frosty air. Orange bitters and a couple dashes of Angostura add spice and complexity to this cocktail, allowing each sip to exist as both a nostalgic walk down Santa Clause Lane and an inviting toast to the solstice and our next trip around the sun.

Solstice Elixir

  • 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • ½ ounce Cranberry-Ginger Syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (I use Reagan’s)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Cranberry-Ginger Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 ounces fresh ginger


Halve the cranberries and thinly slice ginger. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water, cranberries, and ginger to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and pressing the cranberries with a wooden spoon to help break them down. At the first crack of a boil, remove from heat. Once cooled, pour the syrup through a strainer. Discard the solids. Refrigerate.

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Shelby Hinte is a writer from Southern New Mexico. She currently writes and tends bar in the Bay Area. In 2015 she was a featured female bartender at the Girl’s Inc. annual TASTE event in Oakland.