The 12 Drinks of Christmas – Eighth Drink

 Christmas is a time to reflect on our lives. To look at the year nearly past and how things have changed. For me, even more than New Year’s, this is a time for reflection, to think about what we’ve gained, what we have lost. It’s been a hard year for all of us. So many losses and they just keep coming, as today we found out that yet another friend has passed from Covid. It makes it hard to find the spirit of the season with so many people hurting. We take many things for granted, especially our beliefs. We have to to try to stay positive, though. To look on the brighter side and count the blessings we have, even on this Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, or the last night before things begin to get brighter, depending on your point of view. So in that spirit, please join me for the eighth of The 12 Drinks of Christmas. Sing along at home, if you like, because, “For the eighth drink of Christmas, Uncle Monkey made for me, a Frosted Sugar Plum”.

Our point of view is everything, Shakespeare says that there “is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so” and I think that he was probably right. When confronted with a deception, Obi-Wan reminds us that what he said was true, “from a certain point of view. You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” I know I can count on that, old Ben Kenobi has never lied to me, from a certain point of view. Our viewpoints can be tricky though, and tonight’s drink is a prefect example.

I have often imagined those sugar plums that dance in children’s heads on the night before Christmas and I have pondered them as the Sugar Plum Fairy danced through the Nutcracker. In my mind, I could see a dried plum, perfectly preserved in a sparkling coating of crystalline sugar, looking to all the world like a plum frozen in ice and time. I assumed that if one were to bite thought the thin sugar coating, the flesh of the plum would yield and you could enjoy the sweet decadent meat of the fruit. That’s what I thought. To be fair, I had not done any research. I had created this treat in my mind and it fulfilled all of my sugared plum needs, so I went no further.

Unlike Turkish Delight, which C.S. Lewis led me to believe was a treat so incredibly delicious that one would be forgiven if they betrayed their entire family and Aslan just for the promise of a room full of it. Later in life I sought it out and tried it for myself. Clive Staples, did not tell the truth, even from a certain point of view. Turkish delight is awful. There I said it. In a more honest young adult fantasy adventure, The White Witch could have threatened to feed Edmund Turkish Delight if he didn’t sell out the beavers. That’s a fate far worse than being turned to stone.

Sugar plums are nothing like Turkish Delight, they are actually delightful. However, they are not the treat I had imagined, not remotely. They are also not a particular persimmon which is sometimes called a sugar plum, but anyone who has ever enjoyed a raw persimmon can tell you that unless they were having tart, mouth-puckering nightmares, no child has ever had visions of them dancing through their dreams. As it turns out sugar plums are actually defined as, “a piece of hard candy made of hardened sugar in a small round or oval shape.” That’s right, the children were dreaming of hard Christmas candies, which makes way more sense than anything I had come up with and even helps explain every grandma’s beautiful but mostly indigestible bowl of ribbon candy.

So with that sorted, grab your tins and pop in 2 ounce of gin, I went with St. George Botanivore; 1 ounce of grapefruit juice and 1/2 an ounce of grenadine. That’s it, a short and simple riff on The Blinker, created by Jospeh Scwartz from NYC’s Milk & Honey. Add some ice, the frosted kind and shake to the strains of “Hard Candy Christmas” by her magnificence Dolly Parton. When well chilled, double strain into a Waterford crystal coupe with it’s rim frosted in sugar, just like the imaginary plum of my misguided past.

If experience teaches us anything, it is to be wary of simple drinks with a heavy grenadine component. This remains true. There is nothing in the world wrong with this drink and it is gorgeous, but it is a little too simple for me. The grenadine comes on a bit strong and, honestly, I am rarely into grapefruit drinks, so this one does not do it for me. Your mileage, almost certainly, will vary. Isn’t it pretty, though, sitting there in front of the tree. Sometimes, that is enough to just take a moment and enjoy the beauty of a thing or it’s memory. Like Dolly says, even if we are barely getting through tomorrow, still we won’t let sorrow bring us down. We’re gonna be fine and dandy with our hard candy cocktail; or something like that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive, my friends.