Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays!


Elixir #2

1 ½ oz. Gin
½ oz. White crème de menthe
½ oz. Maraschino liqueur
½ oz. Brandy

Combine all ingredients in ice-filled cocktail shaker and stir for 20-30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

From the Art of the Bar by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz (adapted from Burke’s Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes by Harman Burney Burke, 1934)

Let's face it, cocktail choices during the holidays can leave much to be desired. You’d think with the abundance of shindigs this time of year there'd be all manner of adult beverages to indulge in. You've got office parties, visits with family, catching up with out-of-town friends at the local watering hole, and lots of other excuses to bend the elbow during the weeks between Thanksgiving and year's end. It's a tippler's paradise.

So why does it seem that no matter where you go you’re offered either egg nog or some dubious chocolate/peppermint/cinnamon concoction that delivers its yuletide spirit with the subtlety of a grease fire? (For the record, I personally love egg nog, but there's only so much of that stuff one person can reasonably be expected to shovel down. Besides, have you seen the price of nutmeg lately?)

I was looking for an alternative that sidesteps the creamy/syrupy stuff, but still manages to convey the holiday sprit. The Elixir #2 wasn't designed as a holiday drink (as far as I know), but it sure works as one. Flavor-wise, the gin & Maraschino cuddle up together nicely, evoking an earlier holiday vibe where the silver gleam of the cocktail shaker could be seen in its rightful place next to the glimmer of the tinsel on the tree. The brandy lends a nice Dickens-era feel throughout, bringing visions of a redeemed Scrooge and our festive Victorian predecessors gathered at the hearth. Finally, the crème de menthe puts a whisper of mint into the equation, giving just the slightest nod to the time of year we're celebrating.

Now if you want the cocktail equivalent of a crowded department store loudspeaker blaring Muzak carols, be my guest. But I'll fill my glass with the distant tinkling of sleigh bells heard through a snow-laden nighttime forest.

Happy Holidays...and remember to leave a bottle out for Santa!