The 12 Drinks of Christmas – Second Drink

I started my morning making coffee, looking out the kitchen window at the frost as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” played in the background. The lights from the tree were reflected in the frosted glass and it was just a nice quiet moment. I’ve never been a huge fan of that song, it’s fine and I sing along, but it’s not one of my favorites. It hit me this morning, though, perhaps for the first time. So in that spirit, please join me for the second of The 12 Drinks of Christmas. Sing along at home, if you like, because, “For the second drink of Christmas, Uncle Monkey made for me, a Peppermint Martini”.

Let’s get this right out there, this is not actually a martini, which should be obvious to even the most casual observer. This is a subcategory of drinks that call themselves martinis, but are actually desserts presenting in a standard cocktail glass. Go to any fern bar and you can find an espresso “martini” or or a snowball “martini” or any number of other creamy, sweet concoctions that only share glassware with a proper martini. But we are not going to let that stop us, because these drinks can be fun and are kinda perfect for the “toss out the diets” decadence of the holidays. I only mention this so ya’ll don’t blow up the comments schooling me on what does and does not constitute an, according to Hoyle, martini.

The first step for this descent into decadence is to make a simple chocolate ganache to line the glass. Don’t get intimidated here, this is really so easy to make and you can use the leftover bit to ice some cupcakes, like we did. Finely chop 8 ounces of some high quality dark chocolate, I really lean into the darkness with some 70% cacao. Set that to the side and slowly heat 1 cup of heavy cream to a simmer on the stove. Take your time heating it and don’t let it get to a boil, we just need it hot enough to melt the chocolate. When it is there, pour it slowly over the chopped chocolate and let it set a minute before stirring to completely incorporate that wonderful dark chocolate. Once you have a good consistency, hold your cocktail glass at an angle and pour in a little ganache, do it with panache. Slowly roll it around to cover about half the glass with chocolate at that cool angle and pop it into the fridge to harden. While the glass is chilling, grab 3-4 candy canes, pop them into a thick ziploc bag and go to work on them with a hammer or a pipe wrench or whatever implement of destruction you have at hand. When the candy canes are pretty well broken up, grab that cocktail glass out of the fridge , dip the edge in ganache and roll it through the peppermint to coat, before popping it back in the fridge. With your glass prepped, you can make the drink at your leisure, which I figure we should do now.

Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/4 ounces of Vanilla Vodka, I chose Corsair, 2 1/2 ounces of clear creme de cacao, 1/4 ounce of heavy cream and about a teaspoon of that crushed candy cane. Add ice and shake hard to the beat of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, since that is our motivation for the day. When well chilled, strain into that beautifully prepared cocktail glass and serve.

It is sweet. It is decadent. It is sort of low-key wonderful. It’s got a great chocolatey thing going on with a nice creaminess coming through from the vanilla vodka, but I think the best part may be that whisper of mint. Who am I kidding, the best part is licking the chocolate ganache from the rim. More drinks should be enrobed in chocolate, seriously.

We all know that this year is different and that is what makes the lyrics to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” so poignant. This morning in the cool frosty light, it was like I was hearing the song for the first time. So many lyrics hit differently, all those references to “next year” when “all our troubles will be out of sight” or ”miles away”. Thinking about those olden days when “friends who are dear to us, will be near to us once more”. The song has always felt a bit depressing, which I am sure is colored by my memories of the musical it first appeared in “Meet Me in St. Louis”, where it marks a dark time in the play. Now, I see that it is also full of hope, an indomitable belief that “Someday soon, we all will be together”. The song says that will happen “if the fates allow”, but we all know that there is more than fate at play when it comes to when we can celebrate in person again. “Until then, we’ll have to muddle through, somehow. So, have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Now”. Yeah, it was written for dark times, but looking forward to the days to come, better days, and that is a gift worth waiting for. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive, my friends.