I don’t mean to brag, but one of the best things about being estranged from most of my family (aside from self-preservation) is that I don’t have to give a shit about the holidays if I don’t want to. And most years, I don’t. Most years, I coast and shimmy in my snow globe of cozy imperviousness, only peripherally aware of the hustle and bustle, long lines, shopping bags, jingling bells and fa-la-la-la-blah.
It’s not like I’m opposed to festivities, or getting (and giving) presents, or cooking a nice dinner. I’m apathetic and bad at planning, not the Grinch. I don’t want to hinder other people’s merry-making. And as someone who publicly and professionally cares about cocktails, it stands to reason that come November, I start getting texts from friends and colleagues asking for holiday-specific cocktail recipes, ideally ones they can make in advance. And inevitably, I always feel like my answers leave something to be desired. I’ve never gotten around to having a decidedly favorite punch recipe, or even forming an opinion about eggnog. My standard go-to’s for holiday cocktails are usually:
1. Tiki cocktails, because so many of the flavor profiles in those cocktails are evocative of Christmas (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.), elaborate garnishing is encouraged, many are formatted for sharing, and there’s something wonderfully escapist and comforting about them.
2. The Flip.
The Flip, traditionally composed of spirit, sugar, egg, and (not always) cream, is how I fake my holiday cocktail acumen. It’s a dessert drink, as in best-served-after-dinner and on its own. It’s also very much in the spirit of eggnog, in that it’s creamy and uhh, you know, has egg in it—but it’s not quite as custard-y and dense. And while eggnog generally needs to be made in advance and in a larger quantity, the flip is a single-serving cocktail made on the fly. It’s also conveniently modular, aka fairly forgiving to improvisation, aka you can have fun with it. Which is what I did.
General flip specs to riff off of
- 1 ½–2 ounces spirit (Cognac, bourbon, port, and dark rums all generally work, and quite beautifully.)
- ½–1 ounce modifier (Something like cane syrup requires no more than half, but if you’re using something like a liqueur, you’ll probably want to bump it up.)
- 1 egg yolk, or 1 whole egg (Use the whole egg if you don’t have cream, or if you want froth and body, or if you hate waste.)
- ½-¾ ounces cream
Hair of the Grinch
- 1 ½ oz cognac (I’m partial to Pierre Ferrand.)
- ¾ oz crème de menthe
- ¾ oz crème de cacao
- ½ ounce cream (35% whipping)
- 1 egg yolk
Place all ingredients into a shaker, sans ice, and vigorously shake for about ten seconds. (You want that emulsification, baby.) Open the shaker and add ice, then shake again for about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe, and grate nutmeg on top for garnish (optional but quite seasonal).
Happy Holidays, or whatever!