A holiday checklist: Snow, jingle bells, sleighs, Yule log, sleds and chestnuts roasting by an open fire.
Those are items we’re almost guaranteed will not be part of our seasonal celebrations. Having snow is a remote possibility, but certainly not the norm (remember 2004 and ’08).
But New Orleans has December traditions and holiday icons: caroling in Jackson Square; Vince Vance’s “All I Want for Christmas is You;” Mr. Bingle; Benny Grunch and the Bunch; Celebration in the Oaks; réveillon dinners; A Cajun Night Before Christmas and hot toddies.
Maybe our temperatures don’t approach the single digits experienced by our friends to the north, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be enjoying drinks of the season, because here in New Orleans we enjoy drinks of any season – even when there isn’t a season.
Since we’re happy to find ourselves in the southern clime, let’s try a festive warm beverage, both invented here and graciously served by the talented bar mistress at Dominique’s Restaurant on Magazine Street, Kimberly Patton-Bragg, with a nod to our amigos in the land of tequila.
1 1/2 ounces Milagro Tequila reposado pumpkin infusion*
1/2 ounce Fonseca Bin 27 Port
3 ounces Martinelli’s Pure Cider (unspiced)
1 barspoon dollop sage, honey and brown butter mix**
1/2 ounce cinnamon stick
1/2 ounce sage leaf
*Roast a sugar pumpkin and cut into cubes. Add to one 750-milliliter bottle Milagro reposado. Let sit for 3 to 4 hours than remove solids then strain again through cheesecloth or an Aero Press.
**Melt 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter with 16 fresh sage leaves. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Allow to foam and then brown. Remove from heat and remove sage leaves. Add 1 ounce honey and cool. Chill.
Heat first 3 ingredients together. Pour into an Irish coffee-style glass cup. Top with dollop of butter mixture. Garnish with cinnamon and sage.