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Sip & Savor: May Day Cocktail

May 27, 2011 03:00AM ● By Anonymous

Instead, consider delving into the world of German history and tradition and brewing a batch of May Wine. Also known as Maiwein or Maibowle, this chilled wine punch celebrates both springtime and May Day. Drinking of the wine is part of the maypole tradition, an annual ritual where people braid a pole with ribbons while weaving in and out while dancing.

May Wine is bottled commercially, but is also easy to brew yourself provided you have a thriving herb garden or a good farmers market around. This is one of those times where gardening and bartending go hand in hand, as May Wine is created by infusing a sweet white wine with the herb Sweet Woodruff. Also known as Waldmeister, the herb is a small green plant with fragrant white blossoms that grows in the German forests. In the month of May, the new leaves are tender and just right for soaking in wine to produce a distinctive taste. (Act quickly the blossoms are only around for about two weeks.) If you can’t find Sweet Woodruff at a local farmers market, both the plants and seeds are available for purchase online.

As with all cocktails that have withstood the test of time, you can find multiple variations of recipes for May Wine. Essentially, you only need three things: A light white wine, such as a Riesling, fresh Woodruff, and fruit for garnish. Because strawberries are in season around the same time that May Wine is infused, it is typically the garnish of choice. Some recipes include brandy for an extra kick or soda water or champagne for some fizz; however, this is more of a May Wine Punch versus traditional Maiwein.

To make your own May Wine, pour a bottle of sweet white wine, such as Moselle or Reisling, into a pitcher. Add 10 sprigs of Sweet Woodruff, and then cover and place in the fridge. Let the wine infuse overnight. When serving, strain the beverage into goblets and float fresh strawberry slices in the drink.

Enjoy, and happy May Day!


Other Cocktails For May

Looking for alternatives to May Wine? Try out one of these suitable suggestions.

May Day Cocktail

Have a merry May Day with this mix of fresh fruit flavors with a rum base. Serves 2

2 ripe peaches, pitted and chopped

4 strawberries, cubed

1 ounce rum

4 ounces apple juice

1 tablespoon superfine sugar

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

Flesh and seeds of 2 passion fruit

Crushed ice

Sliced apples for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix. Pour into two highball glasses and garnish with an apple slice.


Mint Julep

It’s the season of horseracing and that means it’s also the season of mint and bourbon. Mint Juleps are traditionally served in silver or pewter julep cups, but you can substitute a highball glass if necessary.

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon water

4 fresh mint leaves

Finely crushed ice

3 ounces bourbon

1 fresh mint sprig

Combine the sugar, water, and four mint leaves at the bottom of a chilled goblet/glass. Muddle the mint leaves at the bottom of the cup to bruise them and release the flavor. Keep muddling until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the cup three-fourths of the way full with finely crushed iced. Pour the bourbon over the ice and stir gently. Garnish with the remaining mint sprig.

If you’d like to make juleps for a crowd, make a mint-infused simple syrup by boiling two cups water with two cups white sugar and halfcup chopped fresh mint leaves. Allow to cool and then mix the bourbon, mint syrup, and crushed ice in a large pitcher.


May Day Martini

This cocktail might not be traditional, but it sure is delicious.

4 parts Absolut vodka

2 parts lemon juice

2 parts cinnamon syrup

2 strawberries, chopped

1 slice strawberry

Combine the first four ingredients into a shaker. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with the slice of strawberry.