St Andrew’s Day Cocktail
So St Andrews Day is right round the bend, on 30th November. A celebrated date in the Scottish calendar when we tip the hat, or more often, raise a glass to our Patron Saint. Though St Andrews Day is perhaps not celebrated quite so loudly as Burns Night or St Patrick’s Day, under normal circumstances the date marks a good excuse for a wee party, going out for Scottish themed food and drink menu specials and perhaps even whipping on the full kilted outfit and hitting up a ceilidh.
With going out still not much of an option and dancing ‘strip the willow’ most definitely off the cards, this has admittedly been the first year ever I have done any form of reading up on the day and St Andrew himself.
Being quite a fan of Scottish history, I was surprised at how little I knew about the man and it turns out we are not the only country to have him as a Patron Saint. Russia, Greece and even Barbados are among them.
Amidst the Wikipedia worm hole I found myself in, I learned of Fife monasteries being constructed to house the holy relics, and bones of St Andrew, which were shipped to Scotland centuries after his death, even though he had never set foot in Scotland when he was alive.
Legends of St Andrew visiting Pictish Kings in dreams and symbols of saltire crosses appearing in the clouds helping secure battle victories for the Scots against all odds are common in our folk tales.
In his living days Andrew had been a fisherman and would become the first of Jesus’ 12 disciples. When he met his end in Greece as a martyr on 30th November 60AD, he thought himself not worthy of being crucified on the same t shaped cross that Jesus died on so requested an X shaped cross known as a saltire. This X symbol would later be known as the cross of St Andrew and is where we get our Scottish Saltire Flag from. It can also be found on a number of other flags from across the world.
Despite all his achievements in life and death I found it quite amusing that the accomplishment he is most famous for in the Bible is for merely being the younger brother of Peter. St Peter, the big name amongst the disciples, known as the first Pope, bit of a ‘preacher’s pet’ if you ask me.
Now I feel I can kind of connect with Andrew on this level as I too am a second child. Like many of us the world over we second siblings grow up in the wake of the first born with fewer photos in the family albums, ‘hand me down’ clothes and no first baby keep sakes like first teeth or locks of hair are kept in a drawer with our name on it. Yes, I’m blowing the self-pity horn here but I’m sure St Andy would agree with me.
St Andrews Day recipe
For our St Andrews Day cocktail this year I wanted to focus on the wintery spice notes in our Aqua Vitae and seek out some flavours that are common ground in some food and drinks enjoyed at this time of year by some of the other countries celebrating our mutual Patron Saint. There is a hot mulled drink called sbiten, full of spices, honey, and bramble jam, that has been keeping our friends in Russia cosy in the winter months since the 12th century. One of my all-time favourite sweet bakery treats is a slice of Greek baklava, again packed with spices and dripping with honey, perfect for autumn.
Sweet honey and winter spices combine beautifully in this luxurious autumn sipper, named:
50ml Lindores Aqua Vitae
25ml Rosso Vermouth (I used Valentaian from the Scottish borders)
25ml ginger & honey syrup (1:1 honey and ginger ale, reduced on the hob)
Teaspoon of bramble & cinnamon jam
2 dashes of angostura bitters
Stir down with plenty of ice, double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with clove studded orange peel.
Enjoy, cheers! Slainte Mhath! Ya Mas! Za Vashe Zdarovje!
Happy St Andrew’s Day wherever you are celebrating and remember to raise a glass to Peter’s brother.
Murray Stevenson – Brand Ambassador, and Second Son