The Twelve Drinks of Christmas: Volume 2, Drink 3
It’s not always easy to slow down and relax during the holidays. I know that everyone is supposed to be taking a little more time for friends and family, but it sure feels rushed, doesn’t it? There is so much to be done, decorating the house, getting the right gifts, going to holiday events, juggling schedules, baking cookies and watching Christmas movies, or at least feeling like we should be doing al those things. Folks have got a lot on their minds, not the least of which, is trying to figure out how to pay for it all. It can get hectic. So, in the spirit of giving ourselves a little gift, let’s take a moment for a short tropical escape as we stand and make Coconut Eggnog.
First things first, this is not Coquito, or even a decent replacement for that wonderful delicacy. This is a lovely drink and in spite of its creamy, coconut goodness and obvious holiday appropriateness, it is something different. It is also not a Martini, even though it was marketed as one by the good folks over at Tommy Bahama. I am not going to beat them up too badly, they make clothes, not drinks, so I get it. Still, we’ve got to slow down on this trend of taking any dessert drink, popping it into the classic “martini” cocktail glass and calling it a martini. The glassware does not define the drink, you could have a martini in a rocks glass, but a Negroni doesn’t magically become a Negronitini, because you serve it up in a cocktail glass. Ah, marketing, what would the holidays be without it?
Like many other holiday treats, including the Clyde Common Egg Nog, Hot Buttered Rum and the Tom & Jerry, this one starts with a batter, so let’s make it. First thing, we need some music, so fire up She & Him singing “Blue Christmas“, because Zooey sounds like she is feeling down in that version, which is a nice take on the classic. Next, grab a large mixing bowl and whisk 5 egg yolks with 3/4 of a cup of pure cane sugar until creamy. Stir in 2 cups of coconut milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract, I use Bell Buckle Country Store; 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. That’s it, you now have Coconut Eggnog Batter, which will keep for a week or two in the fridge. You can drink it just like this if you want, though it is a little sweet for my taste. Let’s temper some of that sugar with the spirits of the season. Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 of an ounce of Bourbon, I chose Four Roses; 1 ounce of coconut rum, I went with RumHaven, 2 1/2 ounces of batter and 2 stabs of El Guapo Holiday Pie Bitters. Add some artisanal ice and give it a good shake to mix everything, froth it up and chill it down. Strain into a short cocktail glass, so it will still look like the baby martini it is clearly not and grate a little nutmeg on top for good measure.
This is perfectly lovely, my first thought was of Coquito and how I might prefer it, but this is really something different. This is a wonderful coconut version of eggnog and there is nothing wrong with that to spice up a menu and give things a tropical feel. It’s not quite as easy to make as a Coquito, but I like separating egg whites and yolks, so I enjoyed the dreary part of this one. It is also a bit lighter on the palate than coquito, which can be helpful for holiday entertaining. I was not a huge fan of my first couple of sips, but I knew the batter was solid, so I remade this one with 3 ounces of batter and 2 ounces of Ron Zacapa 23 and I liked that less boozy, more focused variation much better. That’s the thing, once you have your batter this one is really easy to experiment with. I may try it with Nocino next or Limoncello, why not?
Celebrating the holidays is not always easy. There, I said it. I know we are all supposed to put on a brave face and be cheery and happy, but it can be really hard. I mean, it can be tough anytime to look on the bright side, but during this season there is a lot of extra pressure to be jolly or, more often, to at least pretend to be happy, even if, or perhaps, especially, if you are not. You know, so you don’t bring others down. How’s that for a recipe for a downward spiral. It’s ok. It happens, and when it does it’s important to remember that you don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations. It is ok to have a Blue Christmas. It’s not greedy to need some space to breathe or to take some time for yourself.
I always get anxious about this time of the season. We are in the home stretch, a week and a half out. I always worry about things and I crank that up to 11 during the holidays. If you are shopping online, that shipping window is closing, which makes me worry that things may not arrive in time. Pile that on top of the underlying anxiety that I may not have found the best present for each person or not gotten them enough or that I forgot about someone or million other things and it gets kind of hard to be my best self. There is a lot of imaginary pressure during the holidays to get it all right. The perfect gift, paired with just the right outfit, the right choice of songs and menu. It all can be a bit much and that doesn’t even begin to consider hard memories or other familial or societal pressures that can make this time of year tough.
There is good news, though. Like usual, most of that anxiety and pressure is in your head. I know that being aware of that, doesn’t always help. It is hard to listen to yourself giving advice, especially when it goes against your critical inner monologue. So, to keep you from having to decide which you to listen to, whether to let your conscious mind or your subconscious take center stage, I am going to grab the spotlight and make things easy. Just listen to your old Uncle Monkey when I say:
- Relax. No one else would dream of holding you to the standards you set. If you have people in your life that do…well…disappoint them. They’ll get over it.
- The perfect gift/outfit/menu/drink/card doesn’t exist, being thoughtful does.
- They may not remember the gift, they will remember the look in your eyes as you gave it to them.
- Wearing the right shoes or sweater doesn’t matter, being there for them does.
- You can be there, even when you can’t be there. Call, text, zoom, write.
- Your time and attention is the best gift of all.
- It really is the thought that counts.
You know it is true. So do I. That isn’t going to change things much when I get that nagging feeling that I am not living up to expectations during the holidays, but at least now I can beat myself up for beating myself up when I clearly know better. Or maybe this will actually help, after all, I should practice what I preach. I’ll try. You try too and stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive, my friends.