The mistletoe plant has ovoid green leaves with small white berries. Why is it associated with Christmas? Here’s one explanation:
The Druids of Britain (think Stonehenge), circa 100 C.E., thought that mistletoe had magic properties: a cure for disease, a fertility aid, protection from witches and so forth. In a special ceremony held in late December or early January, priests would cut pieces of mistletoe from oak trees* and people would hang them in their homes.
Over the centuries, the custom of hanging mistletoe at home endured, and around 800 C.E. it may have become joined with a Viking legend.
In that legend, the god Balder is killed with a poison made from mistletoe (mistletoe is, in fact, poisonous). He is brought back to life by his mother, the goddess Frigga, who is able to reverse the effects of the poison.
Overjoyed, Frigga then kisses everyone who walks under the hanging mistletoe. Fast forward another 13 centuries: We’re still kissing people under the mistletoe.
Enjoy a Mistletoe Margarita—just don’t use real mistletoe! Photo courtesy Hornitos Tequila.
You can simulate mistletoe in a cocktail with a few mint leaves; but never let real mistletoe anywhere near edibles if you want to avoid acute gastrointestinal problems.
*Mistletoe is a parasitic plant. It grows attached to the branches of a tree or shrub, from which it absorbs nutrients.
RECIPE: CHRISTMAS MARGARITA/MISTLETOE MARGARITA
Ingredients Per Drink
1-1/2 parts Tequila
2 parts pomegranate juice
1/2 part sour mix (see discussion and recipe below)
1/2 part triple sec
1 squeeze fresh lime
Mint or sage leaves for garnish (sage leaves more closely resemble mistletoe)
Optional: 1/2 part grenadine for more intense color
Optional: sugar and lime wedges for rim
Optional garnish: pomegranate arils or two cranberries
Why buy artificially colored, artificially
flavored, HFCS- and preservative-laden sour
mix, when you can make your own from
simple, honest ingredients?†
1. COMBINE all ingredients except garnishes and sugar in a pitcher. Chill.
2. RIM the glass with sugar before pouring in the cocktail: Simply run a lime wedge around the edge of the glass and then dip the rim of the glass in a plate of sugar.
2. POUR and garnish each glass with 2 mint leaves and/or other garnishes. Serve on the rocks or straight up.
Find more of our favorite Christmas cocktails.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SOUR MIX
That specialty product called sour mix—also called Margarita mix, sweet-and-sour mix and whiskey sour mix—is simply a lemon/lime flavored simple syrup (also called cane sugar syrup), a sweetener that dissolves easily in cold beverages.
Simple syrup can be flavored. When it is citrus flavored, it is called sour mix or sweet and sour mix—sweet from the sugar, sour from the citrus.
Commercial products abound; but as with many prepared foods, you can make a better, less expensive version by just using sugar, water and citrus juice.
In fact, if you mix up your fair share of cocktails, you should always have some simple syrup at the ready. When you need sour mix, just stir in the citrus juice.
HOW TO MAKE SIMPLE SYRUP & SOUR MIX
To make simple syrup, mix one part sugar and one part water, stirring over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, about five minutes. If you like things less sweet, use 2:1 water: sugar instead of 1:1.
You can use warm or lukewarm water and shake it in a jar for a “no cook” recipe.
Store simple syrup at room temperature in a repurposed jar, wine bottle or other tightly-capped container that is pour-friendly.
Add citrus juice to make sour mix: 1 cup of juice per cup of water. Half lemon, half lime is conventional; but if you have a passion for one over the other, you can use it exclusively. If you like to experiment with flavors, make grapefruit or yuzu simple syrup; or experiment with different varieties of lemons and limes.
Fresh sour mix will keep in the fridge for two weeks or longer (we’ve kept it for months). Simple sugar doesn’t need refrigeration, but once you add the citrus juice, it needs to be preserved.
LOW CARB/SUGAR-FREE OPTION: Juice 6 large lemons and 6 large limes; mix juice with 3 cups Splenda and 6 cups water.
†You’ve seen the three ingredients of natural sour mix in the recipe above. Here’s what’s in a commercial brand like Mrs. T’s: water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, gum acacia, potassium sorbate (preservative), polysorbate 60, natural flavor, ester gum, sodium metabisulfite (preservative), calcium disodium EDTA (preservative), calcium lactate, calcium gluconate, yellow color 5, yellow color 6.