The legendary elven euphoric wine -- a traditional drink for Oroaias
Oroaias "Flowering of Love" is around the corner! Well, okay, on Earth we call it "Beltane," and only a few of us still celebrate it. But I figured that this time of year gives me an opportunity to talk about one of the elves' most legendary concoctions: sylsani, or, as translated into English, "feywine." A lot has been written about this legendary euphoric alcoholic concoction. Like with cannabis, most such stories are exaggerated. It is neither as dangerous as puritans claim, nor is it a hallucinogenic wonderland that immediately makes you want to fling off all your clothes and cavort naked in the woods, as the party-types would have you believe. But it is a lot of fun, and no, it's not just wine.
The Key Ingredient
Sylsani uses sweet woodruff as a natural euphoric, which is steeped in the wine to impart its euphoric properties. You can probably find dried sweet woodruff in your local herb store, but if you can't, it's simple enough to grow your own in most temperate climates. In fact, it's a pretty common flower to appear in rockwall gardens or possibly as ground cover, especially because it spreads broadly with runners. It is easily recognizable by its tiny baby's breath-like white flowers, and its clusters of seven emerald-green leaves. It's the leaves you want for this purpose, and the flowers are mildly toxic, so make sure you discard them. You'll need to dry the leaves before they can be used. (I tried fresh leaves once; definitely not the same.) But you only need a small amount, so if you grow them in your yard or a flowerbox (where they also do well,) it should be easy to get enough to make feywine every spring. They bloom around this time of year, too. They're a perennial, so as long as you don't pull the roots, they'll come back every year. They don't tolerate drought well, though, so make sure you keep them well-watered. Elves typically pick their woodruff where it grows wild, in shady regions of temperate and subtropical forests.
Woodruff by Axel Kuhlmann
PreparationGet two bottles of your favourite white or fruit wine. Elves tend to prefer sweet wines or strong fruity wines, with Alfar preferring the white and Nunnehi preferring the fruit wines. Fortunately, tart wines are en vogue in the wine world of our culture, so sweet wines are usually cheap. I've made this before by using boxed white or even Baby Duck. This time, I went for a more wood elven recipe, and I used a local blackberry wine, and a homemade apple jack that was kindly donated by a friend.
Pour the wine into a container with a wider mouth and a sealable lid (I used two large Mason jars, one for each bottle of wine, which would be perfectly accurate for an Avalonian Imperial Navy spacer brewing up some sylsani for a few Oroaias shenanigans. Take the seasonal berries (strawberries are typically used where I'm from, but many possibilities exist depending on climate and biome) and chop them into pieces, or at least break the surface of their skins. You really can use as much or as little as you want; I suggest about a handful between the two bottles. Add them to the wine. Add the dried woodruff herb to the wine as well. I put half a tablespoon into each jar. Stir thoroughly to mix it up, or seal the container and shake vigorously. Set your containers somewhere out of the way to steep. Steep this brew overnight at a minimum, or for three days maximum. (I have steeped it for up to a week, but please don't do that to yourself; the hangover is not worth it. Maybe elves have more resistance than I do!) Shake or agitate your containers in some way at least once or twice a day for best results. You will notice that the wine will take on some colour from the fruit it contains. Strawberries impart a pleasant rosy shade, which is probably part of the reason that they are so popular. When you're satisfied with the steeping, strain out the fruit and herbs. In this case, I used a coffee filter in a funnel, and just strained it back into the wine bottles, so that I could save it for later.
Feywine in Mason Jars by Diane Morrison
ServingIf you intend to add any of the optional ingredients, such as brandy to fortify, or honey or sugar to sweeten, add it just before serving. Serve as a punch, with more seasonal fruit and, if desired, edible flowers floated in it. This time of year I would have strawberries and violets to use for this purpose. As a personal note, I found that the apple jack was a little too tart for my tastes, and the blackberry wine was a little too sweet, so I blended them together for a perfect balance. The Nunnehi would approve, but I'm sure the Alfar would have been horrified at this blasphemy!
EffectsSweet woodruff, when used in this manner, is a euphoric that is stronger than curry or chocolate, and considerably weaker than psilocybin. Drinking feywine makes you giggly and inclined to have a great time; you know, like how wine promises, but rarely does. It has no hallucinogenic properties. I recommend sipping to keep a pleasant buzz going, rather than getting really drunk on it. It's perfect for a refreshing pick-me-up in hot weather, and it's excellent for enhancing a party or for raising your spirits when you are feeling low. Enjoy!
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- 2 bottles of fruit wine or a sweet white wine
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) dried sweet woodruff leaves
- fresh seasonal berries to taste
- fresh, seasonally-appropriate edible flowers (optional)
- a good splash of brandy (optional)
- up to 2 tbsp (30 mL) honey or sugar (optional)
Caution: Avoid drinking feywine if you suffer from kidney or liver disorders, or are taking blood thinners1
Sylsani is an important part of the elven festival of Oroaias "Flowering of Love" It is an important part of any party, and it's common for trysting couples (or trios, etc.) to disappear with a bottle or two to make the evening a little more pleasant.
Feywine in Bottles by Diane Morrison
- It should be noted that Wikipedia says that sweet woodruff and strawberries both contain coumarin, which is a substance that is a mild anticoagulant and is slightly toxic to liver and kidneys. However, mulled wine containing cinnamon contains similar amounts of the substance. Still, I would not recommend drinking May wine or feywine if you have any disorder of the liver or kidneys, or are taking blood thinners.
"Feywine" is based on a traditional German recipe for May wine, which is an important part of May Day celebrations. It is made with white German wine, woodruff, and strawberries. As with sylsani, other ingredients are sometimes added to the punch, including sparkling wine, carbonated water, brandy and sugar. Please see the Footnote in the sidebar for a note of caution.
C. B. Ash
Very fascinating! Now, do the elves have a 'spiced' version of this for other occasions? ... and I'll refrain from "orc" related questions ( as I'm rather fond of the orcs in your setting! )
I love that you love my orcs! I am very fond of them too, and I don't think orcs get anywhere near enough love, which is part of why I took this approach. Why are the orcs always the bad guys? Because the elves *say* they are? And do you mean "spiced" or "charged?" :D
C. B. Ash
*chuckles* ok, challenge accepted! So is there a 'spiced' version of this ... and a 'charged' version of this ... and would the orcs have their own take on it? Would the orcs have come across this and decided it needed improvement? Or would they have their own take they came up with? I've never liked the idea of orcs ( or a few other fantasy staples ) always being the bad guys because someone else says they are. Orcs need serious amounts of love... probably Graf-related! :D