Spruce Needle Vodka

Simply pour this frozen green vodka into a chilled martini glass and float a fresh, tender fir tip on top.–Connie Green and Sarah Scott

LC O Tannenbaum Note

A piney potable? We don’t consider a Christmas tree-infused cocktail to be blasphemy. Rather, we chalk it up to being part of the magic of the season. Sort of makes you want to hum along to “O Tannenbaum,” eh? While we’re on the topic of tannenbaums, the type of tree you pluck a sprig from will make a profound difference in the final result. So as not to go overboard with a resinous smack, stick with spruce or Douglas fir, preferably one from a local tree. And always ask whether the tree was sprayed–you want one that wasn’t. Just to state the obvious, opt for a vodka you wouldn’t mind sipping straight up.

Spruce Needle Vodka Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes one 750-milliliter bottle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spruce or Douglas fir needles, stripped from the branches
  • One 750-milliliter bottle vodka
  • Tender tips of the branches, for garnish (optional, but so very festive)

Directions

  • 1. Place the spruce or fir needles and 1/3 of the vodka in a blender. Blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a large, clean jar or bowl.
  • 2. Pour the remaining vodka into the blender jar and swirl it around to gather any green residue on the sides and bottom. Pour this into the fir-infused vodka and stir to combine. Cover the jar or pour the vodka back into its original bottle and seal. Refrigerate for 1 week.
  • 3. Strain the vodka mixture, discarding the solid pine mass. Strain the vodka again through a coffee filter or cheesecloth and then pour the vodka into a clean bottle. You can stash the emerald green elixir indefinitely in the freezer. (May be sorta nice to pull it out for a little Christmas in July, eh?)
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Jennifer P.] This is wonderful—like the best of both vodka and gin! It’s easy and fun. I’m gifting bottles of this for Christmas!

  2. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Sofia R.] Aside from the fact that this vodka is the easiest thing to make (and it only took 10 minutes), the taste and smell are wonderful. I love vodka, and this was a huge hit at our house. I’ll make sure to always have this on-hand.

  3. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Fran Brennan] We love infused spirits, so this recipe really intrigued me. I thought it could wind up either amazing, or a total bust. Happily, it was really, really great. Aside from the fact that you may not be able to get fir needles year-round, it’s a super easy recipe. A week of steeping in the freezer with bits of our Christmas tree, and the vodka was sharp, bracing, and redolent of the great outdoors. It made a mean martini, and even mixed well with tonic and lime juice. I didn’t make a full batch because I was a little nervous about the outcome, but everyone who tried it was clamoring for more. I may make a few bottles before our tree is gone and keep them in the freezer to have all winter.

  4. This looks awesome.

  5. Denise Friedel says:

    Just wanted to comment on how delightful this sounds, and will possibly try it out. The fact that the recipe comes from the book “The Wild Table” impresses me all to pieces. A few years ago, I published a small magazine known as “Country Charm,” in which there was a section specifically for wild and foraged foods. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I myself tried to the dismay of my young family, quite of few of the wild edibles. One thing to never forget: always peel burdock root before cooking it, lol!! Sure it’s healthy, but if it doesn’t taste good, what’s the point?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Couldn’t agree more with you on peeling burdock prior to cooking it, Denise! The things we learn the hard way…and yes, we’re hoping that foraging for spruce needles and steeping them in vodka is a far more tempting notion for you & yours…

  6. Leslie Louise Price says:

    Hang on just a second. Does this mean that I can turn my Xmas tree into a cocktail? This is so inventive and enticing. And I happen to have some extra vodka just lying around. If Santa buys me “The Wild Table” he might just get one of those fantastic drinks. Are you listening, Santa?

    • David Leite says:

      Leslie, jut make sure the tree is a spruce or Douglas fir.

      • Hilary says:

        I just came across this and I’m super duper excited to try it!! But I’m just wondering…Why does it matter if it is specifically spruce or douglas fir? Is it purely the taste?

        • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

          From what we heard from our testers, Hilary, yes, it has purely to do with the taste. A few testers veered into other types of trees and regretted it. Like licking a pine floor, I believe, is how one explained it…

  7. Elaine says:

    I know this was written with the holidays in mind, but is there a preferred time of year to collect the spruce or doug fir needles? I’m wondering if the results differ noticeably, say from spring, summer, fall or winter collections. I guess the best way to find out is to make this throughout the year!

  8. Um, not to be stuffy or anything, but fir and spruce are different species. And they taste really different. Is this recipe better with new growth or does it matter? How about pine as opposed to fir or spruce?

    Any recommendations on martini recipes using this?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      As with one’s preference for vodka, one’s taste in Christmas trees is, we imagine, quite personal. I’m going to go out on a limb, ahem, and say that the author wasn’t trying to confuse matters by including several options but was good naturedly trying to offer as many varieties of tree as possible, given the variance in availability.

      As to the actual flavors, those of you who’ve tried this concoction, which types of trees did you use and how would you characterize the flavor? Based on aromas, we’d expect a Douglas to be quite resinous, almost sweet, and exceptionally aromatic. It’s the classic Christmas tree, so bear that in mind when contemplating Douglas versus spruce. A pine tends to impart a slightly but not quite as Pinesol-y taste one might expect.

      And as for for martin recommendations, we’re purists when it comes to martinis. Just the infused vodka and a wave of vermouth, if you must, suits our tastes just fine. We can, however see perhaps swapping a twist of lemon in place of the vermouth. Anyone else been experimenting?

  9. liza says:

    I picked up some branches at a local tree farm (we have an artificial tree). Before I did the infusion I decided to taste the needles. I’m glad I did as one tasted very bitter, but a longer needle varietal had a milder, lovely flavor. It’s infusing now–can’t wait to taste it this time…with the vodka!

  10. kitchenbeard says:

    Am I the only one who thought pine needles were toxic to humans?

    • David Leite says:

      kitchenbeard, not all are, by a long shot. But to be completely safe, ask your local authorities about the types of pine trees in your area.

  11. Ira Sherr says:

    This looks amazing! Just when I was wondering if I could turn my plant geekiness into some sort of edible, holiday gift (extracts, maybe?), along comes this gem! I’m also curious as to which of the old growth or young growth would taste better.
    Personally, young-growth Doug Fir looks really pretty in the spring (it’s a metallic-y blue colour), so maybe that’s reason enough to try the younger stuff.

    Finally, something to do with all the Spruce trees in my neck of the woods! Har har har. Pun intended. Thanks, LC!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail