Welcome to Summerisle!
Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo. Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew. Sing, cuckoo! Ewe bleats harshly after lamb, cows after calves make moo!
Ever since I began ritualing with my fostering coven almost ten years ago, The Wicker Man has been one of my favorite movies. We’d watch it together every Beltane, sipping mead and telling jokes, singing the songs and quoting our favorite lines. One year I was feeling especially inspired so I put it on to play first thing in the morning and my DVD ran on repeat until I went to bed that night. Clearly, to say that I adore The Wicker Man is an understatement.
What’s not to love about this great film? It’s campy and charming in the weird, retro way that only low budget films from 1973 can be campy and charming. The story is engaging and interesting. On the surface it’s a suspenseful thriller, though it’s much, much more than that. The music is truly inspired, blending traditional tunes with contemporary (at the time) folk jams. Did you know that most of the music is performed by locals of the real-life Summerisle? The script is witty and clever, and oh-so quotable. And the acting...! Edward Woodward who plays the totally unlikeable Sergeant Howie is expressive and 100% convincing in his convictions. The extras, more locals of Summerisle, engage both Howie and the viewer with wit and charisma. They are utterly convincing in their devotion to the Old Ways, to their family, to their community, and in their convictions.
“You'll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice," Rowan’s mother says sadly to Howie. I believe her, I really do.
And Sir Christopher Lee – what can I say? He’s a master, and his role as Lord Summerisle is legendary. So it is in his honor, and in honor of the fine folks of Summerisle, that I share with you these custom cocktail recipes. Enjoy them on Walpurgisnacht (April 30) and throughout the Beltane weekend. Tweak to your local flavors and customs, have a blessed Beltane, and enjoy!
(Most of all, don’t forget your appointment with the Wicker Man!)
The Summerisle (non-alcoholic)
“For John Barleycorn, the life of the fields”
Dip a pint glass into honey
Dip the honey-rimmed glass into cinnamon (this will be very messy, but what better way to celebrate Beltane than by licking honey and cinnamon sweetness from your fingertips?)
Fill the glass with ice
Add in a generous splash of elderflower syrup, juice, or soda (my favorite is Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Presse. Use the pink rose flavor if you’re feeling fancy)
Top it all off with high quality apple juice or sparkling cider
Garnish with a slice of apple or a strawberry
The Lord Summerisle (alcoholic)
“A heathen, conceivably, but not, I hope, an unenlightened one.”
Rim a martini glass with honey
Dip the honey-rimmed glass into cinnamon
Pour in a shot of St. Germain or another elderflower liqueur
Pour equal parts champagne or sparkling wine
with equal parts hard cider (hard cider flavored with elderberry or ginger is especially tasty)
Cut a very thin slice of an apple on its horizontal axis (so you can see the five-pointed star in the center.) Float this very gently on top of the cocktail and watch it fizz!
Enjoy, and be sure to offer up a libation to Nuada, the most sacred god of the Sun, and to Avellenau, the beloved goddess of the orchard!
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