How to Drink: A (Holiday) Instruction Manual – Hot Coffee Grog

Here we are at last, the final installment of this holiday cocktail ensemble. Please refrain from pointing out that it is February, and that the relevance of holiday cocktails has diminished significantly. I would argue that many of these drinks are equally enjoyable on a cold winter night as they are on Christmas Day. So without further ado, let me remind you one last time about my little project.

This holiday season, while most people relaxed and enjoyed themselves, I was hard at work perfecting what will years from now be looked back on as the perfect Christmas drink repertoire. The way I see it, every self-respecting drinker needs five go-to libations to get them through the five drinking stages of Christmas: (1) pre-Christmas; (2) Christmas Eve Dinner; (3) Christmas Eve After-Dinner; (4) Christmas Morning; (5) Christmas After-Dinner. Serve a little wine with Christmas dinner and this collection of seasonal drinks will guide you smoothly through next year’s “most wonderful time of the year.” I’ve already discussed the perfect pre-Christmas drink, Rye Egg Nog, the Christmas Eve Pomegranate Bourbon Cocktail, the Christmas Eve After-Dinner Tom & Jerry,  and the Christmas Morning Bourbon Pecan Milk Punch. Lets finish things off with a kick of caffeine, a generous amount of rum, and the perfect blend of winter spices . . .

Stage 5: Christmas After-Dinner – Hot Coffee Grog

Grog has a fascinating history that deserves more words than I’ll allow here. In brief, the story has much to do with the history of the British Navy, which in 1655 began issuing its sailors a daily ration of rum in the amount of a half pint or “2 gills” per sailor (note this practice continued until 1970!). Instead of drinking their daily share, some sailors would hoard rations in order to drink a great deal all at once. In 1740, Admiral Edward Vernon began the practice of adding water to the rum ration to dilute its potency (and inhibit hoarding since water was subject to spoilage) and the resulting mixture became known as grog.

What does that history have to do with the warm coffee cocktail I’m presenting today? Little to nothing admittedly. But the recipe does call for Jamaican rum, and coffee certainly has water in it, and after a glass I dare you not to act like a drunken sailor.

Hot Coffee Grog (adapted from Serious Eats)

2 oz Demerara rum (El Dorado 5 yr)

1/4 tsp ground cloves

4-6 oz hot coffee to taste

1/4 oz ground allspice

2 tsp brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

1/2 oz Jamaican rum (Appleton)

1 strip orange peel for garnish

In an Irish Coffee glass or mug, dissolve the brown sugar a little hot coffee, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir with the cinnamon stick; garnish.

As is true with many rum based drinks, part of the magic comes from the mixture of rums from different regions, each with their own characteristic flavors. These two play together very nicely. In fact every ingredient in this drink brings a certain warmth: the literal warmth of the coffee, the warming glow of the rum, and the spiciness of the cloves and allspice. These spices are so apt for the season, and mixed with the rum the coffee is transformed into some thing new, something different than before. Perhaps my favorite part though is the subtle citrus note from the orange peel, just enough to play off the spice and rum, without overwhelming the richness of the coffee. This is a drink full of bold seasonal flavors that would please the Admiral himself. Enjoy!

Previous posts: pre-Christmas – Rye Egg Nog; Christmas Eve – Pomegranate Bourbon Cocktail; Christmas Eve After Dinner – Tom & Jerry; Christmas Morning – Bourbon Pecan Milk Punch

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