“It’s Still Christmas” (a Holy Day Cocktail)


Recipe

Drink Base

  • .5oz Brandy
  • .5oz Jamaican Rum
  • .5oz Dry Curacao
  • .25oz Allspice Dram
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • .5oz Demerara Syrup

Drink Topping

  • 2oz Strong Earl Grey Tea
  • 2oz Steamed Oat Milk
  • 2 dashes Rose Water (optional)
  • Garnish with Grated Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Served hot. Add the spirits, bitters, and demerara syrup to a mug and stir together. Brew the Earl Grey Tea extra hot and extra strong and add 2oz of it to the mug with the spirits. In a separate container, add 2 dashes of Rose Water to the oat milk and steam it. Pour over the drink in the mug and garnish with freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

* * * *

I was not raised with the Christian Church Calendar, so imagine my joy when I found out that, historically speaking, Christmas is not just a single day, but a 12-day Christian festival!

And so, to remind us all that Christmas is still going on, I bring you this cocktail–a beautiful hot drink to help us through these darkest days of the year. It is a merger of The Embassy cocktail and the fantastic “S’No Problem” by my favorite cocktail YouTuber, Anders Erickson.

The main flavor note is warm spice, with some dark funk and molasses. The first few sips catch the floral notes of rose, bergamot, and orange. But as the flavors mix, it settles into an almost chamomile flavor that calms and soothes.

Ingredients

Brandy is a traditional spirit for this season, and E&J XO Brandy is really good for how inexpensive it is. But my favorite brandy is Christian Brothers Sacred Bond, it would maybe work better here. It’s a high proof brandy that drinks more like a bourbon. Added to this, in equal measures, is Ferrand Dry Curacao and Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum. To round out the base drink, I used Liber & Co’s amazing Demerara Gum Syrup.

I made this in the evening, so I brewed some double-strength Twinings Decaf Earl Grey (4oz), and only used 2oz. I’d try to brew it even stronger or get a more flavorful tea next time. Use whatever oat milk and rose water you want.

Technique Notes

I’ve found the biggest challenge of this drink is getting it hot and keeping it that way. 1/3 of the ingredients go in the cup room temperature or cold. Most of your heat will be from the tea, so brew with boiling water, cover it to retain heat, and don’t let it sit too long. Add the drops of rose water and steam the milk extra hot. I microwave it until it’s around 160 degrees, then use a milk frother.

In my order of operations, I stirred the spirits and syrup in the cup to incorporate them. I started brewing the tea as I did the milk. I then poured the tea into the cup with the spirits and then slowly poured the milk on top of it all.

Pro-tip: my original garnish was going to be Christmas sprinkles, but those immediately melted and sank into the hot foam, leaving some pretty gross-looking blobs and holes in the foam. Don’t make my mistake.

Riffs & Changes

If had the time/money to do more research, I’d want to try a few things. First, I’d try even less Allspice dram, as it overpowers things a little. It’s base is already a very funky Jamaican rum, so that funk becomes a dominant flavor. It’s nice, but I’d want to turn it down a bit.

I’d also experiment with cutting the Allspice completely and switching out the brandy for rye. As it is, the brandy is very soft and it’s hard to tell what it adds. Anders Erickson’s original recipe calls for bourbon, and in hindsight that was a very good call on his part. Another good move of his was adding a dash of Angostura bitters. Making this drink again, I think I’d also add that back in.

If you try this (or any of the modifications), let me know what you think!

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