The 12 Drinks of Christmas – Sixth Drink

We have been talking a lot about the signs of the season and the things we love. We don’t all love the same things though, and that is ok. My wife despises the popcorn Santa in this picture. I love, love, love, him. He is met each year with the traditional rolling of her eyes as I find somewhere I can see him and experience the joy he brings. Different strokes for different folks move the world, as they say. We should embrace our differences, celebrate how diversity keeps things from getting boring and most of all, learn to appreciate those things that others love. So in that spirit, please join me for the sixth of The 12 Drinks of Christmas. Sing along at home, if you like, because, “For the sixth drink of Christmas, Uncle Monkey made for me, a Coquito.”

Yesterday our Hot Buttered Rum may have seemed a little over the top with all that butter and brown sugar, melted ice cream and rum. So today we are going to dial it back a bit. Who am I kidding we are going to lean into the decadence and follow up with something equally spectacular, but there will still be rum.

I normally make this traditional Puerto Rican holiday treat as a batch, which is always problematic, since about one glass of this super rich elixir is one too many. Honestly, as much as I love this, I really only want or need a couple of sips to find contentment. I always go ahead and finish it moving right through contentment and into self-loathing. This is the way. Or it has always been my way, you may have better luck with moderation. In fact, I hope you do, but it has never been my bag. I’m like Ado Annie, with me it’s all or nothing. However, I recently found this single serving version and it works pretty well, especially if you split it across two or even four small glasses and share it. Like I said it is pretty rich. How rich? Well, lets see.

Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of rum, this is a Puerto Rican drink so I went with Bacardi. To that add 1 ounce each of evaporated milk, creme de coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Yeah, you see why it is so rich and sweet, now don’t you? Toss in a couple of drops of vanilla extract, I use Simplify Pure Madagascar and add about 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon. Pop in some artisanal ice cubes and shake hard to the beat of “Drink Ah Rum” by Lord Kitchener, that’ll put a calypso beat in your shake. When well chilled, strain over some ice in a suitably jolly Christmas glass, grate a little cinnamon on top and garnish with the cinnamon stick, maybe some star anise, if you are feeling fancy.

This is so good, but oh so rich. Seriously, you can feel your blood sugar rising just looking at this drink. I am not sure what sweetened condensed milk was created for besides this drink, tres leches cake and caramel pie. I mean how do you even use it outside of these recipes? It’s presence is definitely felt though. It sort of laughs at the rum as it takes over all of the flavors and subjugates them to it’s sugary will. So much sweet.

Sweets are a part of the season though, so this one fits in perfectly. I have a love/hate relationship with it, unlike my wife and popcorn Santa, she has no love for him at all. He’s been around the house for probably 15-20 years, ever since I stumbled across him in a box of throwaway items at a quirky little junk store on Charlotte in Nashville. He was dirty and had no price, but I think the guy asked me for two bucks. I got excited until I realized it was a cash only place and I had no money on me. I went back out to the car and went through the console, pooling all of my resources to be able to counter with $1.78. He looked me up and down, looked at the dirty Santa and took my offer. I brought Santa home and cleaned him up and he has been with us ever since. I am not sure why I fell in love with him. I had completely forgotten these popcorn style plastic decorations had ever existed until I saw him and then the memories came flooding back. Elementary school bulletin boards, popcorn Santas and trees decorating the doors to the classroom, the smell of the wax on the floor, the sound of the radiators popping as the heat came on, kindergarten me wearing cowboy boots because I couldn’t tie my shoes properly with any consistency. Memories I did not even realize were floating around in my subconscious, unlocked by a lonely Santa face discarded in a bin at the back of a junk shop. A shop I had never been in before or have returned to since, but a place that gave me a little piece of my childhood back, something I did not even know I had lost, and that is the best kind of gift. The one you needed and did not know it. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive, my friends.