While for the Westervins, Christmastime is mostly about taking some time off to spend with family and watching our favorite Christmas movies (or at least my favorite Christmas movie), we somehow also find time for presents. So just like Sarah did yesterday, I’ve rounded up some nifty items and wrapped them up in a handy gift guide for you. Don’t feel the need to get me everything on this list — I don’t need #allthepresents. But some of this stuff is really cool, and you may know someone who still needs a gift. Heck, maybe you need a gift. Fair warning though, many of these items are limited in quantity or handmade, so get them while they’re hot!
After you’ve agitated the rum allspice concoction for 10 days, you’ll need to strain all of that allspice out. It’s probably easiest to run it all through a coffee filter. As with most homemade libations that you have to strain, make sure you press on the spent allspice to extract as much flavor as possible. Once you have your strained allspice rum, you’ll need to make a 1:1 simple syrup with brown sugar (simmer a 1:1 mixture of sugar to water in a small pan until it is clear and not cloudy). Let the syrup cool off, combine it with rum, and pour it into a bottle. It will probably taste pretty rough at first, so you’ll want to let it sit around for awhile. Paul Clarke recommends 30 days or so.
There you have it! Allspice dram. A pretty straightforward liqueur that is perfect for the season, and considering it’s use in tiki drinks, it’s probably pretty good in warmer months, too. All you really need to make it yourself is time. Of course you can always buy St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram at your better equipped liquor store. In any case, you may be wondering what kind of cocktail this could possibly be used in? Well, luckily for you, I’ve got just the thing.
Chicago Winter Sidecar
1.5oz Bourbon (preferably something higher than 80 proof)
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.25 oz pimento dram
1tsp honey (adjust to taste)
2 dashes of coffee bitters
Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, fill with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass (champagne saucer). Garnish with a lemon twist and maybe a few allspice berries. If you feel a bit squeamish about the raw egg white, the drink will work perfectly fine with out it–you’ll just loose a bit of texture. This recipe builds upon the Black River Sidecar.
The Chicago Winter Sidecar is really good. I think it’s one of two whiskey-based drinks that Sarah actually liked (the other being Paul McGee’s Gristmill at The Whistler), both of which have a dose of allspice dram. So if you don’t happen to be very fond of whiskey or find yourself hanging out with someone who ‘hates the stuff,’ you might suggest a cocktail with a little bit of dram: a miracle cure for the whiskey averse.
I keep having the same recurring dream, night after night: fall is over, and winter’s clutches are upon us! So, I figured I need to wear my spiffy brown shoes before they’re outmatched by piles of snow and slush. Similarly, my vintage corduroy blazer is perfect for autumnal temps, but once my dreams become reality, I’ll need to find shelter in something heftier, if not indoors altogether.
The holidays may be over, but Winter is in full swing. For those of you facing a cold as blustery as our Chicago wind — and for everyone drudging through the first work week of 2010 — whip up a batch of mulled cider to cheer and warm you up. Over the holiday break, I made a nice Bourbon-spiked version based off this recipe. Of course the spice variations and proportions you can use are endless, so keep experimenting until you find a balance that works best for you.
I hate being cold, so I can’t say I’m very fond of winter. Aside from the hand-knit scarves and cardigan-clad cuties (like Brian, of course!), I feel like I could get along fine without the entire season. But I can’t deny how beautiful the world is all covered in snow. It’s freshly fallen here in the windy city; still white and crisp and clean. Pretty soon the traffic and trash will turn it to dark muck… but it’s quite pretty now. I’ll indulge winter this one charm.