The Best Spirit To Pair With Christmas Tree Needles

Did you know that you can do more with your Christmas tree than just decorate it? As shocking as it may sound, you can actually repurpose the festive shrubbery, putting pine needles to use in a wintery cocktail! While there's no shortage of spirits to choose from when crafting a Christmas tree tipple, there is one liquor that we deem the absolute best pairing for pine.

According to Hunker, most trees can normally last several hundred years when left in the wild, but that dwindles to months when used as a Christmas display. So to give the greenery a second life, there's a sustainable solution: Use them in a cocktail. Aside from sourcing the needles from a minimally-treated tree, Atlas Obscura also stresses the importance of working with edible varietals like warm and woodsy pines, floral and citrusy spruces, and sweet yet grassy firs.

One of the easiest ways to use the needles is to create a simple syrup. After giving the greenest needles a quick wash and chop to release the oils, W&P recommends mixing together equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan and heating until the sugar is dissolved. Then, you can add pine needles to infuse the liquid for a few hours after removing the saucepan from the burner. Once strained, the liquid can be stored in a sealable container in the fridge for up to a month or until you're ready to make a knockout tipple featuring an equally woodsy spirit.

Pair pine needle syrup with herbaceous gin

Contrasting flavors is one way to go about pairings, but when it comes to finding the ideal match for pine needle-infused simple syrup, the philosophy of mixing like-with-like just makes sense. Given that gin is made by infusing a distilled neutral liquor with pine-forward juniper berries and other woodsy and herbaceous botanicals (via VinePair), combining the syrup and spirit is a no-brainer.

Each Christmas tree's needles can boast a slightly unique profile depending on the varietal. However, many of the nuanced aromas and flavors found in gin mimic what's already present in the shrubbery — whether that be notes of citrus, grassiness, spice, lavender, and even licorice — furthering the complexity of the spirit. Doing precisely that, Gastronom recommends amping up the earthy intensity and adding a splash of pine needle syrup to a Gin and Tonic. But pine can do even more for gin.

Anything from a Gin Fizz to a Tom Collins, Gin Rickey, or even a Gimlet can be made festive, so long as the sugary element is substituted with a woody pine needle syrup. However, you could also tackle gin head-on and toss a few clusters of Christmas tree needles into a bottle, shares The Guardian, and transform a treasured Negroni into a festive favorite without imparting any additional sweetness!