Recipe and photo by Anna Marie Beauchemin of East Bay Herbals
A classic holiday beverage, this spiced elixir can be enjoyed any time throughout the winter. This version combines the immune-supportive properties of astragalus with the heart-opening energy of hawthorn, making it a welcome drink for the colder months. A festive take on a traditional libation, this classic herbal beverage harkens back to the days of cobblestone streets and connects us to a time when herbs steeped in beverages were used to help fortify the body for the season ahead.
1 bottle red wine (organic or sulfite-free preferred)
1 tablespoon dried hawthorn berries (available at local herb shops)
1–2 teaspoons dried goji berries
1–3 slices dried astragalus root (available at local herb shops)
2–3-inch knob fresh ginger root, sliced
½–1 stick cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly shaved nutmeg (optional)
1–2 tablespoons honey (optional)
2–3 3-inch strips orange zest or dried orange slices*
Add wine, herbs, berries, and spices to a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and warm over very low heat. Keep on low—making sure not to simmer—steeping herbs for at least 1 hour. Let cool slightly and strain. If you would like to sweeten the beverage, return the wine to the pan over very low heat and add honey, stirring to dissolve. Serve warm in festive cups, garnishing with a strip of orange zest or cinnamon stick for an additional touch of cheer.
Which wine to use: Recipes often specify a type of wine (usually a full-bodied red), but I recommend any red wine you prefer or have available such as an opened bottle you didn’t quite finish, or one you didn’t much care for that could stand some sprucing up. Beaujolais nouveau is a good choice.
Dried Orange Slices
Easy to make and fun to string into garlands to adorn your holiday home, dried orange slices are also a nice garnish for this warming drink. Slice oranges into ¼-inch rounds, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and dry in a very low oven (200° or less) for 2 to 3 hours. Flip oranges halfway through drying process and cool before using.
Note: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be used as medical advice. Please make sure to consult with your licensed physician before adding herbal or dietary supplements into your diet, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on medication.
Anna Marie Beauchemin is a professional herbalist, educator, and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She offers one-on-one herbal consultations, as well as workshops and trainings regionally and online. She loves writing about the intersection of the culinary and medicinal worlds, creating seasonally relevant herbal recipes that can be used in everyday life. Learn more at eastbayherbals.com.