The 12 Drinks of Christmas – Fourth Drink

It is about more than giving and getting presents or spending time with the one’s we love. It is about more than street corner Santa’s or the spirit of charity in the air. In many ways, for me, it is about the smallest things. A single lit tree in the yard of the same house I have driven by for the last twenty years. That tree was decorated by someone I have never met, in front of a house I have never visited, but it always makes me smile the first time I drive by and see the lights are there once again. How many of the things we love, those signs of the season that mean it is Christmas, are done each year by strangers? How many of our own decorations or rituals signal that same thing to people we have never met? Like Clarence said, each of us affects so many others, without ever realizing it. It gives one pause. So in that spirit, please join me for the fourth of The 12 Drinks of Christmas. Sing along at home, if you like, because, “For the fourth drink of Christmas, Uncle Monkey made for me, a Peruvian Christmas”.

I’ve got to come clean, this was meant to be a bit of a travelogue, talking about spending the weeks before the holidays in different parts of the world, the different customs, featuring an alcohol I bought in Peru on one of my adventures, you get it. But my Grandma is a bit under the weather, so Laura and I spent the evening visiting with her. I ended up grabbing my kit and ingredients so I could make this one at Grandma’s house. When the time came to grab a picture of the drink and document this fourth drink of Christmas I slipped one of my favorite signs of the season into the background and well, that changed my whole direction. Those two little elves sitting there are considerably older than I am and have presided over every Christmas in my memory. They live in a box eleven months out of the year, but even with their limited time in the sun, they are faded with age. I remember playing with them when I was little, moving them around, hiding them in the tree. Over the years, their appearance has become one of those things that kicks off the season for me. Like I said, it’s the little things.

Even though, there are no deep ties that bind a Peruvian Christmas to our tale today, it is still an excellent drink. This one comes to us from “Magic in a Shaker” a great book by Marvin Allen who presides over the famed Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. I’ve spent more than a few hours there people watching, though I have to admit that I prefer one of the chairs by the window to sitting at the revolving bar. The big chairs are more comfortable and you double your people watching possibilities with that window view and the bar spinning beside you.

This is a shaken drink so grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of Peruvian Pisco, 1/2 an ounce of amaretto, 1/4 ounce of Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce of rich simple syrup and 3-4 ounces of Peychaud’s Bitters. Add ice and shake to the beat of “El Burrito De Belen” which is literally the only Peruvian Christmas song I have ever heard. When well chilled double strain into some stemware and garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.

That Peychaud’s gives it a nice color and tries to tone down the sweetness, but with half an ounce of rich simple and that amaretto, it is on the sweet side, even with that fiery Pisco rocket fuel driving this train. I like this one, but one is enough for me, it is so pretty though. It’s also nice to find another use for that bottle of Pisco I picked up in Lima. I love it in a Pisco Sour, but having more options is great.

Yeah, I ruined my travelogue and didn’t get to humblebrag about Christmas markets in Europe or tropical traditions of the islands or any of that adventure stuff. I did get to spend the evening at Grandma’s, reminiscing about her Christmas treasures. These elves, her plastic albino reindeer, the stained glass frosted candle that only comes out once a year and smells like my childhood, the rubber pixie from the fifties and her Christmas tree glasses. Those little things that make up our memories. There are a million examples, from that single decorated tree in front of a stranger’s house to Santa coming down 34th Street at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the rituals which signify the beginning of the season are different for all of us. It is also one of those strange things which bring us all together. Those little rituals, that we don’t even realize we look forward to, but we miss when they aren’t there. Seems like the story of this year, doesn’t it? All those things that didn’t happen have been adding up, weighing us down. So, it is good that here at the end of the year we can find some solace in our holiday traditions and, maybe create some new ones. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive, my friends.