a 12BB original
3 parts Advocaat (Dutch/Belgian eggnog liqueur)
3 parts ESB ale (Extra Special/Strong Bitter)
1 part (or to taste) spiced brown sugar syrup (recipe below)
Add all ingredients to a glass of any shape or sort and stir to combine. Some may like a cube or two of ice. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg over the top
Dissolve 2 cups light brown or evaporated cane sugar into 1 cup water over low heat
Add 0.25 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves and ground ginger
Stir until combined, and allow to cool
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It was roughly around this past Halloween that we answered our nation’s call. By “our nation”, we mean PBS.org, and by “answered”, we mean responded to their email requesting an original drink for a collection of holiday recipes. Obviously, it was an honor to be among those chosen by PBS, but coming up with a new Christmas-themed concoction was a bit of a challenge. Not only did the drink need to be simultaneously new and fresh while still conjuring up Christmas traditions, it also needed an appropriate moniker — something that could rationally be applied yet esoteric enough not to have been previously taken.
The first question we asked ourselves was: What connotes Christmas (or the holidays, if you prefer)? In modern days, the first thing that usually comes to mind is eggnog. A hundred years ago, the drink that would have been at the top of everyone’s minds — and on the tips of their tongues — would have been a Tom and Jerry. Now, without rehashing the entire tale of Corinthian Tom and Jerry Hawthorn, Esq. — and the subsequent cultural phenomenum they spawned — we will cover the basics: Tom and Jerry were a pair of early 19th century men-about-town who indulged in the highs and lows of London society in Pierce Egan’s Life in London (1821). As mentioned, the series of misadventures were a huge smash, inspiring all manner of spin-offs, including — most important of all for our purposes — the Tom and Jerry drink. Today, a bowl of Tom and Jerry is all but forgotten, but a few generations back, it was de rigueur at Christmas.
Now, while Tom and Jerry were central to holiday toasts for the better part of a century, one important part got left behind — namely, their faithful associate, Bob Logic. Logic was the third member of their crew, and as he was a member of the University of Oxford, he was given the sobriquet, “The Oxonian”. And so, our inspiration was born.
Having jumped onto the 19th century Christmas bandwagon, we decided to build our drink around inspirations from the period. Since egg-booze bases form the foundations of both eggnog and Tom and Jerry, we started there. Advocaat is not only arguably the king of egg-booze drinks, it forms the basis for a handful of holiday classics like the Snowball and the Bombardino/Calimero. Thus, should you tire of Oxonians, you’ll have options. Plus, you can buy it pre-made. Homemade is better, but the bottle won’t harm you.
The next spark came from the beer punches of “Oxford Night Caps”, one of favorite recipe sources from the period. A nice ale — particularly an ESB — when combined with the advocaat and the spiced syrup creates a drink that not only evokes traditional holiday flavors, but also stands apart from the usual fare. If you’ve tried our Buttered Beere, you’ll discover the Oxonian to be quite similar, yet much lighter, in profile.
If you’re looking for something equal parts traditional and tradition-breaking, we recommend that you give the Oxoian a whirl. Most of all, however, we wish you and yours the warmest and most joyous of holidays. As always, the best Christmas present we get each year is your readership.