Add aquavit, juice, syrup, and bitters to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain into a champagne flute
Top with dry sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist
Featured Glassware: Miss Desiree Flute by Villeroy & Boch
* * *
This is our final Christmas drink for 2011, and before we do anything else, I want to thank everyone who was kind enough to provide a recipe for us. Our goal this year was to step outside of the 12 Bottle Bar and see what some friends, both new and old, were drinking for the holidays. As we’ve now been espousing our way of thinking for a little over two years now, we thought it would be fun to take a little break and to show you some exciting things – bitters, allspice dram, applejack – that are available outside of our stringent rule set but well worth your attention. Even if you’re a 12BB die-hard, we hope that you picked up a few new ideas that you can work into your routine.
As luck would have it, we began our drinks series with a Swede and are ending it with a Swedish-inspired cocktail. The Stockholm 75 comes to us via Jacob Grier, a man of many colors if ever there was one. When Jacob and I connect, it’s predominantly on the cocktail front, but he certainly has a lot more on his mind than just booze. His site, Liquidity Preference covers – in his own words – cocktails, coffee, the growing nanny state, libertarianism, economics, magic, useful internet tools, and weird sea creatures. I can safely say that I think I’ve actually seen Jacob cover all of those things. Moreover, Jacob provides a window into the cultural happenings of his adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon.
If you follow culinary cultural at all, you are no doubt aware of Oregon’s amazing food stuffs – the state seems to particularly excel at cheese-making, from the national stalwart Tillamook to artisanal producers such as Rogue Creamery — and its world-renowned wines. Over the past several years, Oregon – and Portland, in particular – has added “cocktail mecca” to its list of achievements. Imbibe Magazine is based there, and since 2010, the city hosts a cocktail week, luring in mixologists, mixographers, vendors, and boozehounds from all corners of the globe. What lures people to Oregon, I think, is the state’s consistent ability to not only juggle multiple cultural fronts but to be able to integrate them into something that is uniquely Oregonian.
It would be easy to pin Jacob down as merely a bartender or mixologist (whichever he prefers), but he’s much more than that. What Jacob brings to his writing – and I’m sure his work in general – is an extremely multidisciplinary approach to drink-making. He’s as vested in beer, coffee, and wine as he is in hard alcohol, and you’re as likely to find a beer recommendation on his site as you are a new cocktail recipe. In fact, the first drink from Jacob that we featured here on 12BB was hot chocolate. Okay, hot chocolate with booze in it, but as the Portland brand ambassador for Lucas Bols, you can hardly fault Jacob for pouring a little genever here and there. When we asked Jacob if he would participate in our holiday drinking adventure, it was with the specific knowledge that we had no idea what to expect – but we knew that it would be delectable.
The Stockholm 75 is an adventurous spin on the classic French 75, with the aquavit standing in for the gin and, of course, the addition of Sriracha bitters. Aquavit, if you’re not familiar, is a spirit with a licorice-like profile – the Krogstad is flavored with star anise and caraway seed – popular in Scandinavian countries. Ever one to support his local distillers, Jacob has chosen a brand made not in Sweden but in Portland. And if you’ve ever tasted Sriracha hot sauce from Thailand, then you have some idea of what to expect from the bitters. Brooklyn Hemispherical starts with a traditional bitters base and then adds the chiles and various other flavorings for a second steep. The end result is a drink that no one would mistake for a French 75.
But what makes this drink infinitely special — as well as ideally suited to the spirit of Christmas — is the motivation behind it. And that is what I really want to touch on today. Let’s allow Jacob to tell the story:
“While for many people the holidays are a time to take off work and spend time with family, for those of us in the service industry they can be the busiest time of the year. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve can be particularly packed. This makes it difficult to meet up with family, especially if they live far away. Holidays instead become an improvised affair, usually gathering with similarly situated friends and finding other ways to celebrate.
This will be the second year in a row that I’m unable to get back to Texas for Christmas. If this is anything like last year, though, it will still be a good holiday. A year ago, my friends and I spent the day visiting my favorite coffee shop and a couple local Asian restaurants. Fried grasshoppers might not be everyone’s idea of a traditional Christmas dinner item, but they helped make it memorable for us. So I’d like to give a toast to the folks in the industry working on the holiday itself, specifically in Portland at Albina Press, Frank’s Noodle House, and Mee-Sen. Odds are good I’ll be seeing some of them again on the 25th this year.
The spicy sriracha bitters in this drink are a nod to the Asian restaurants to which I’m thankful for staying open on Christmas Day, and the sparkling wine is there because with a bottle of champagne you can always find something to celebrate.”
So, let’s raise a glass to Jacob, the Asian restaurants that have become a part of his Christmas traditions, and to everyone stuck working the holiday. As the long hours wear on, the Stockholm 75 is a drink that will certainly put a bit zip of back in your giddy-up.
I want to thank Jacob Grier for the capper to our ‘Tis the Season… for Drinking series. His drink reminds us to remember those who make our lives not only easier but, in many ways, simply possible. He has also so excellently illustrated that it’s not presents or places that make the holidays meaningful – it’s the people with whom we share them. These past 12 days, we’ve been fortunate enough to spend our holiday with some pretty amazing people – and it’s the best gift we ever could have asked for.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Feliz Festivus to you all.