Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio (1883) is a tumultuous and winding morality tale of a little wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy. (I was originally going to say it’s somewhat darker than the Disney interpretation, but that scene where Lampwick turns into a donkey haunts my nightmares to this day). In the book, the talking cricket is promptly squashed, and it’s the blue fairy, or somewhat more romantically La Fata dai Capelli Turchini, the Fairy with the Tourquoise Hair, that takes on the role of Pinocchio’s conscience and guides him through his tribulations.
Pinocchio’s first encounter with the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair takes place in the forest. She lives in a little house and appears as a young girl, though she has lived there thousands of years. After Pinocchio is injured by the Fox and the Cat, she saves him, takes him in and implores him to take his medicine, but like any good petulant youngster he refuses. It’s too sour! In response, she tells him he has moments to live and summons a group of rabbits bearing a coffin, threatening to cart him off to his death. This is enough to terrify Pinocchio into swallowing it all down.
One of the most popular recipes from my Witchy Kitchen is homemade Strega liqueur which shares the Tuscan roots of Pinocchio. I used it to make a delightful fairy cocktail inspired by this Pinocchio vignette, perfect for the end of summer leading into spooky season. Strega is a tincture chock full of spices with medicinal properties that you could imagine a little fairy grinding up with a mortar and pestle in her forest cottage. Lemon juice is quite sour, but also full of vitamin C for sick little puppets, and basil simple syrup sweetens everything up whilst imparting a pleasantly medicinal herbal flavor. The whole concoction is topped off with magical, sparkly Italian Prosecco.
This Sour Medicine is delicious, and I doubt you will need to be threatened with undertaker rabbits in order to drink to your health!
Sour Medicine (Strega Cocktail)
Make basil simple syrup by bringing 1/2 a cup of sugar and 1/2 a cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes with a handful of basil steeping. Drain and use in drinks and iced tea!
- 1 tablespoon basil simple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce Strega liqueur
- Chilled Prosecco
- Optional garnish: blackberries and basil leaves
Mix together simple syrup, lemon juice and Strega. Top with Prosecco and garnish with blackberries and basil leaves.