The Twelve Drinks of Christmas: Volume 2, Drink 1

The lights twinkle on our tree, the mistletoe hangs in the kitchen doorway inviting mischief and our stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Monkey soon will be there. That is right, Christmas time is here, or at least it is in our house. Of course, that is mostly a function of geography and genealogy, that’s how traditions work. We tend to do and celebrate the things our parents did, like their parents before them and so on. That doesn’t make us right, but it does make us consistent. Of course, lots of other folks celebrate different holidays during this time of the year with their own traditions and that is awesome. It takes different strokes to move the world and there you have the facts of life. So, in celebration of this time of year and the wonderful diversity of celebrations, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Happy Huladays.

My father suggested this drink for last year, but it was sidelined in favor of the Pom-Pimm’s Fizz at the last minute; it happens. He discovered it in a holiday advert from Tommy Bahama, which explains the name. While “Happy Huladays” is a clever bit of marketing from a tropical clothing line, this one is not really in the tiki vein or remotely Polynesian. Perhaps they meant for it to be served in a round glass, vaguely reminiscent of a hula hoop. That said, it is a really interesting holiday inspired riff on the Old Jamaican and fully deserves its lead off position for our Second Volume of The Twelve Drinks of Christmas.

Before we make the drink we need to craft an ingredient, Cranberry Ginger Syrup. First step is to peel some ginger and cut it into 5 or 6 one-inch cubes. Toss the ginger in a saucepan with 10 ounces of fresh cranberries, 8 ounces of water and 8 ounces of sugar and bring to a simmer while stirring. In about 10 minutes the cranberries will begin to pop and break down, when they are mostly broken, pull from heat. Transfer mixture to a blender, removing all but one of the cooked ginger pieces and blend till smooth. There you go, you now have Cranberry Ginger Syrup and it is a thing of beauty, truly.

Pre pop Cranberries are beautiful, post pop Cranberries are divine and in this isolated case, Ginger is preferable to Mary Ann.

Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of Jamaican Black Rum, I went with Hamilton Pot Still Black, 1 ounce of your Cranberry Ginger Syrup, 1/2 an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice and 2 stabs of El Guapo Holiday Pie Bitters. Add some artisanal ice and shake to the beat of one of my holiday favorites, “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins; a song that carefully navigates the danger zone of conflicting faiths and celebrations by never actually mentioning a specific holiday, it could be about Groundhog Day for all we know. When your tins are well chilled, double strain into something festive, top with an ounce of prosecco, I used Burlwood Cellars Brut and garnish with a cranberry and a little mint.

That is seriously lovely. The sharp notes from the prosecco pick up the ginger to give this one an almost acrid feel on the tip of the tongue, which does not sound fun, but it is wonderful. Made even more so when the savory and sweet notes from the cranberry and rum come in to finish off the flavor. Really, really nice all the way around. This one would batch well and be great for holiday entertaining, giving your guests a beautiful color and flavor in the glass with those wonderful bubbles to tickle their noses. I’d be tempted to serve this one in a flute, just to show off the bubbles.

Hopefully, we will be a little less “Home for the Holidays” this year and have more chances to visit with friends and share drinks and hugs and general jollity in person. I sure hope so. I missed that last year. I don’t really care what folks are celebrating, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone doing it. If you want to wish me a Happy Hanukkah, a joyful Festivus, a Cool Yule, Habari Gani, Merry Christmas, an all-inclusive Happy Holidays or whatever your tradition dictates, I accept all tidings of joy; and if you don’t celebrate anything at all this time of year, well, that is cool too, you do you. The inspiration doesn’t really matter, what counts is the desire to wish others well. As someone wiser than me once said, “More beautiful than any gift is the impulse of the heart to give it.” I like that and it seems like a lot of us are better at that during this time of year. So, you keep the season in your fashion and I shall keep it in mine, but let’s do it together. Stay safe, stay hydrated, stay festive and Happy Holidays my friends!