We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a mean and miserly man who has no time or care for Christmas, but is visited by 3 spirits who ultimately change his mind about the holiday and his life in general. It’s actually 4 spirits, if you count the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley. Can you imagine something like this actually happening? You go to bed on Christmas Eve feeling not so into the spirit of the season, and suddenly a whole spectral crowd shows up to set you straight, beginning with the first ghost dragging up chains from somewhere deep in your basement. Talk about having a bad night! I often wondered as I read the story as a child, and then later as an adult, if I were to be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past what would it show me? Out of all the moments in my past, what would I need to see in order to realize what events or decisions have brought me to this current point in my life, to this current version of myself? Some mistakes are minor, like those 2 am cheesesteaks in the city with our close friends last spring. What were we thinking?? Others, however, are far more serious and can’t be undone. I have to ask myself if there were times when I could have been kinder, instances when I should have been more honest, or things that I chose for all the wrong reasons. Of course there were. More than I can count, as a matter of fact. I think it would be truly terrifying to have to confront those moments again, to see the impact that they had not just on me and my life, but on the other people that were affected by my actions or by the decisions I made. It makes me consider old Ebenezer in a brand new light.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is described by Dickens as being an ethereal creature, wearing a luminous white tunic, with a golden light at the top of its head, and speaking in a soft and gentle voice. When I decided that I wanted to create a cocktail inspired by this ghostly visitor, I knew that I wanted its flavors to stay on the mild side so I started with Stateside vodka as my base spirit. It’s clean and pure and I knew it would add no harshness to the drink whatsoever. From there I added two additional liqueurs that work well together: the first is Velvet Falernum which tastes and smells like candy spice drops, and the second is Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur which tastes exactly like sweet and spicy ginger. The Falernum typically pairs well with lime, and the Domaine de Canton with lemon, so I had a choice to make. I chose the lemon, again with the idea that everything about the Ghost of Christmas Past is mild and unassuming. I felt like the lime would have had too much of a bite. Finally, I finished up with the Citrus Medica bitters from DRAM Apothecary. Their citrus and spice component heightened the flavors I’d already introduced into the drink, and their bitterness helped to bring balance. I also like the idea that the past contains moments that are sweet, and bright, and bitter, hopefully in balanced proportions for most of us. For the golden garnish I decided on a kiwi berry. I’ve bought these at Whole Foods and MOMS Organic Market before and I knew it would give the cocktail the simple finish I was looking for, with the added bonus of its taste echoing the drink’s sweet/tangy/bitter flavor profile.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
1 1/2 oz Stateside vodka
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1/4 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes DRAM Apothecary Citrus Medica bitters
Kiwi berry for garnishing
Add the ingredients to the bottom half of a cocktail shaker. Add your ice (1 large, 2 small if you have them) and shake for 20 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or a goblet. Thread the kiwi berry onto a cocktail pick and rest on the edge of the glass. Think about your past but still enjoy!
Stop back tomorrow… I think you know where I’m going next.