Swizzle sticks—those little wooden dowels heavily encrusted with big, beautiful rock candy crystals—are easy enough to find in shops catering to the tea and coffee crowd. Those you’re likely to find are either uncolored clear or caramel sugar. Root about in candy stores, Asian markets, and baking supply houses and you may come up with a riot of colors—blue, magenta, orange, green, or even just bags of cheap raw amber lump crystals.
But if there’s a market in your community that supplies Middle Eastern foods, drop in, poke around, and see if you can’t find a box of the Persian saffron swizzle sticks known as nabat. Nabat is not just flavored with Iranian saffron, but when it’s in swizzle stick form, it often sports whole threads. Used as stirring sticks, they imbue hot drinks with funky, earthy sweetness.
Me? I especially like them in Rock & Rye, a drink that lets the musky, floral, and slightly bitter saffron play its lingering, seductive background notes.
Indian Foods Company sells a 9-stick box of nabat for about $11. The same box at North Park Produce, one of my neighborhood stores in San Diego, runs $4.
See the gift guide as it grows here.