The Twelve Drinks of Christmas: Volume 2, Drink 10
Robert Burns knew all about scheming and I am often reminded of his immortal words about the “best laid plans, of mice and men,” whenever I get ready to do something. This was supposed to be a towering achievement of holiday drinks, the gem in our imaginary crown, but like so many plans this year, things “gang aft agley-ed” and it became more of a lesson in hubris. Ah, but did we not have fun? So with a nod toward just one more thing that did not quite work out during these unprecedented times, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Midnight Clear.
This is a snow globe inspired riff of my own on the Crystal Clear, which was created by Simon Difford at London’s Cabinet Room in 2019. Although my version of the drink turned out to be surprisingly good, clearly this one is all about the ridiculous garnish. I knew I needed something clear and I did not want to be too boring with a vodka and soda, so when I stumbled across this cocktail with bergamot and caraway I got excited. I wanted to experiment with coconut flakes in there, so I infused the vodka with coconut oil to give it a bit of interest and justification and that mostly worked. To make the infusion, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil before stirring it into a cup of vodka. Let this sit 24 hours before popping in the freezer overnight. The next morning you should be able to pop the frozen coconut oil puck out and strain. That’s all there is to it.
Grab your mixing pitcher and add 1/2 an ounce each of your coconut vodka, Combier Doppelt Kummel liqueur and Italicus bergamot liqueur. Add ice and stir to the beat of the Hall & Oates version of “It Came upon a Midnight Clear“. When well chilled strain into…whoa, just a minute, what is going on here? Ok, you are gonna need that wayback machine to go back a day and mix up some marshamllow fluff and coconut to build a snowscape in the bottom of a glass. To that winter wonderland, add a marshmallow snowman, built on a toothpick, with cloves for arms and toss a couple of pieces of rosemary in the background to stand in for the woods. Carefully, oh so carefully, transfer this glass bound diorama into the freezer too cement it all in place and wait one more sleep, before carefully retrieving the glass only to find that it leaned over when you closed the door causing your snowman to stumble. Wail, moan, tear out your hair and then get over it, “best laid plans” and all. Set this still glorious, if imperfect, vessel in place and strain your drink into it before topping with 2 ounces of birch water. Sprinkle coconut flakes on the top and watch them slowly fall through the drink, snow globe style.
The drink is good. That Kummel is really interesting with its caraway seed and cumin flavors. I love the way it plays with the bergamot from the Italicus and the hint of coconut from our infused vodka. I made this one with straight vodka and it was very good as well, but I think I like the coconut thing here. Even with our stumbling snowman, this is still just too stinkin’ cute as my son would say.
Like the last couple of years, one of the big themes of our holiday has been things not quite working out as expected and us being ok with that. I mean you could yell and scream, but all that does is give you a sore throat which will keep you up at night, slowly worrying if it is a scratchy throat from overuse or if that guy that coughed by you at the grocery passed along a little extra Christmas gift. The best bet is to laugh it off, remember that it is the thought that counts and move on with something more interesting, like making coconut marshmallows for some tropical s’mores. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive my friends.