Friday, December 14, 2012

a drunk in a midnight choir

mixology monday christmas humbug egg nog cocktailThe theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXVIII) was picked by JFL of the Rated R Cocktails blog. The theme he chose was "Humbug!" with the explanation that "Let's face it the holidays suck... You put yourself in debt buying crap people will have forgotten about in a month. You drive around like a jackass to see people you don't even like, or worse they freeload in your house... Plus if you work retail, you're pretty much in hell, so don't we all deserve a good stiff drink?" The gist was to mix something in the spirit of anti-Christmas (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus) whether it be bitter, really strong, or a traditional holiday drink turned topsy turvy.

While brainstorming with Andrea about the theme, she found an 2011 article in the Chicago Tribune that did a dozen cocktails created across the city and based off of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." She was taken by the Bird on a Wire by Robert Haynes of The Violet Hour which was the final partridge in a pear tree drink. Being Leonard Cohen fans, we mulled over the sentiment and read through the song's lyrics for further inspiration.
Oh like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Well, what says the holidays more than trying to be free of familial, work, and shopping obligations; however, it was the "drunk in a midnight choir" line that stuck. With Leonard Cohen's favorite spirits being Scotch and Cognac, I opted for the former and put into the Egg Nog format that I had been considering earlier in the week (originally, the idea was a Tiki Nog). So there's the traditional holiday drink as a starting point, and with enough Scotch, it could be really strong. For bitter, I opted for Averna with thoughts of the Black Manhattan in the back of my mind. Structurally, the recipe was based off Max Toste's Fernet-laden San Francisco Nog -- a drink that would have been perfect for this event had I not already written about it.
A Drunk in A Midnight Choir
• 1 1/2 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse Blended)
• 3/4 oz Averna
• 3/4 oz Heavy Cream
• 1 dash Angostura Bitters
• 1 Egg Yolk
Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
The nutmeg garnish contributed greatly to the nog's aroma. A creamy sip showcased the Averna's caramel, and the swallow offered the Scotch and a lightly bitter herbal finish. Probably a smokier Scotch than the Famous Grouse would have worked better here, but definitely nothing too smoky so as to dominate the flavor profile. A barspoon of Caol Ila, for example, would have made a great addition.
scotch egg nog averna
Finally, I would like to thank JFL for hosting this month's Mixology Monday -- even with its dark theme that made me consider crafting a drink called "Tinsel-Butt" after the December veterinary woes. Cheers!


Dagreb said...

Perhaps with The Black Grouse?

Anonymous said...

The Tinsel-Butt sounds like a drink that must be made! Love this insta nog! said...

Although I'm not in the "anti-Christmas" mood, the Crimson Krampus seems intriguing. I've never heard of using absinthe mixed in a cocktail. Wonder what absinthe purists would say about that?

Mark Holmes - Cardiff Cocktails said...

Got to get some Averna...

Cardiff Cocktails

Mark Holmes - Cardiff Cocktails said...

Also I would love to see you do a Tiki nog!

frederic said...

Dagreb, I have heard the Black Grouse is smokier. When this bottle of Famous Grouse is used up, I'll reconsider other blends. Black Grouse puts it at a higher price point -- which I am fine at spending but then I have to look at what else is in that ball park.

SwallowYourCocktail, absinthe is most frequently served in cocktails here and less so as a frappe, drip, or similar. Some of the purists that I have spoken to from the Worm Wood Society seem fine with it and embrace it as a good way of consuming absinthe (perhaps not the best way though) and a good gateway to get people interested in the spirit. A Corpse Reviver #2 is an easier introduction than straight absinthe and ice water, for example.

frederic said...

RatedRCocktails, if I had gold or silver flake-laden spirits in house, I'd consider it (I know you can by the edible precious metal glitter/flake/sheets without the booze).

Mark, Averna is a great entry amaro that you won't outgrow. You will probably move to more extreme amaros, but you won't look back and regret the purchase nor neglect the bottle. Perhaps one day I'll return to the Tiki nog concept...

theboolion said...

I love the Leonard Cohen reference. Now, if only I could get some Averna. I could try it with Fernet Branca?

frederic said...

If that's all you've got, then yes, give it a whirl. My other thought was Cynar since it pairs so well with Scotch. Similar to Averna is Amaro Nonino (hard to tell them apart at times), and perhaps other caramel-herbal liqueurs like Ramazotti or Meletti might do in a pinch.