Of the 3 spirits that visit Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was always the one that I feared the most as a child. Tall and imposing, wearing a cloak that is as black as the night around him, his slow walk across the snow towards Scrooge always struck terror in my heart. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt that way. Since then I’ve often wondered why Charles Dickens made the ghost that would show Scrooge his future so very formidable. If you think about it for a moment we probably all wouldn’t mind a visit from this ghost if he was a bit more pleasant looking and nicely tempered. Who doesn’t want a glimpse into their future? Isn’t it true that many of us visit psychics, read tarot cards, consult numerologists, and follow our horoscopes in the hope that we might gain some insight? Of course it is, although if I were sitting in the waiting room waiting for a psychic and this is who walked through the door, I’d run as fast as my feet would carry me! Maybe Dickens made this particular spirit so frightening because what’s ahead of Scrooge is so grim. He needed to feel that intense fear before he would really be willing to change the course of his life. Or maybe it’s Dickens’ admonition to his readers to be sure we’re living a life that we’d want to be remembered by. Everyone wants to be well-loved, but we can only get there if we keep our hearts open and we love well in return.
Creating a cocktail that captured the essence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was truly a fun challenge. My middle son (who was the mastermind behind the idea of this little cocktail series this week) was the first person to come up with the thought of going with a flavor profile that suggested coldness and austerity. I started out with Bluecoat gin as my base and paired it with Krogstad aquavit, a dry Scandinavian caraway-based spirit that has a natural affinity towards gin. Krogstad is meant to be served super cold; in fact, right from the freezer is considered ideal. I liked the combination of the two spirits together but it was very dry, so I added in simple syrup for some sweetness, and lemon to pull out the citrus flavor of the Bluecoat and to balance out the sugar. I needed a bitter element next, but rather than go with some sort of bottled bitters, I chose to use a muddled vegetable instead because it seemed like the better fit. Watercress was the perfect choice. The ginger was my final addition and it had the effect of binding the drink together because it works so well with each of the other components. To turn the drink black I emptied one capsule of activated charcoal in with the other ingredients right before shaking. I went with a sugared rim for my garnish. You tell me what you see there. Is it just snow and ice? Maybe. Or is it the outstretched hand of the ghost beckoning you to follow? You decide.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
1½ oz Bluecoat gin
½ oz Krogstad Aquavit
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
The contents of 1 activated charcoal capsule
Ginger slices and watercress for muddling
Decorative sugar for garnishing
Rub some simple syrup around the outside of a cocktail glass and then roll the sides of the glass in the decorative sugar. Muddle the watercress and ginger slices with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker tin. Add the remaining ingredients along with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until very, very cold. Double strain using a Hawthorne strainer and a mesh strainer into the cocktail glass. Enjoy!