MXMO: The Black Krampus
December 15, 2012
The holiday season is upon us, so I’m going to bring you a nice hot drink, courtesy of that traditional Yule figure from the north. The one who keeps a list of which children have been naughty and nice, and visits them at Christmas time to give them what they deserve.
No, I’m not talking about the fat man, but this guy:
Yeah. He looks like a cross between Beelzebub and the Pedo Bear, right?
According to some Germanic traditions Krampus accompanies St Nick (or sometimes works of his own accord) and punishes the naughty children at Christmas. If you’ve only been a little bit naughty, he’ll just swat you with his birch branches, but if you’ve been bad, he’ll carry you off to eat or to throw you into the fires of hell (at least that’s what he tells us – I wouldn’t trust my kids alone with him).
So why a Krampus cocktail?
Well it’s time again for Mixology Monday, the monthly gathering of cocktail bloggers.
Edit: You can now see all the great contributions to the theme here. Go on, check them out!
This time the theme is Humbug: Something that turns traditional Christmas drinks on their heads, or goes against the spirit of Christmas, or celebrates a Christmas villain, or … well let me quote this month’s host JFL from Rated R Cocktails:
Lets face it the holidays suck, yeah I said it. You put yourself in debt buying crap people will have forgotten about in a month. You drive around like a jackass to see people you don’t even like, or worse they freeload in your house. Your subjected to annoying music, and utterly fake, forced kindness and joy. Plus if you work retail your pretty much in hell, so don’t we all deserve a good stiff drink? So for this Mixology Monday unleash your inner Grinch. Mix drinks in the spirit of Anti-Christmas. They can be really bitter and amaro filled. They filled with enough booze to make you pass out in a tinsel covered Scrooge heap. They could be a traditional holiday drink turned on it’s ear. Or they could be a tribute to your favorite holiday villain. If you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa then you still suffer through the holidays, so feel free to join in with your Anti-Holiday drink as well. Whatever it is add a hearty “Humbug!” and make your drink personify everything annoying or fake about the holidays.
I love Christmas, and those anti-holiday wankers who profess to hate it can sod right off.
That said, the aforementioned Krampus, who I just found out about last year, fits the bill. He must be the original Christmas villain, right?
So this idea is a Krampus toddy. Taking the nice soothing hot toddy and turning it into something bitter and vicious that all but hardened boozers would turn their noses up at. A Toddy not for Santa, but for Krampus.
So it’s black and mean. I took a Scotch Toddy I made a couple of weeks ago and amped up the nastiness.
The first little helper – Fernet Branca. This is a very bitter (and black) amaro (bitter liqueur) from Italy. Unfortunately it’s not available in Taiwan, and I only have my bottle thanks to my network of booze mules (well it’s really a triangle, rather than a network, and each of my three mules has only made an annual average of one trip over the last year, so I’m always looking for volunteers – apply within). If you are in Taiwan, you can get Luxardo Fernet from Sundy, which is apparently very similar.
The second little helper is Blackstrap Molasses, doing duty as the sweetening component of the toddy. I knew I was on the right track when someone online called it ‘nasty stuff’ when I put out a help call while trying to find it in Taiwan. Blackstrap is thick and strong. Its most common cocktail application is the Black Strap (aka Black Stripe) cocktail. You can read more about it here.
The Black Krampus
2 oz Islay Scotch
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz blackstrap molasses
Warm a glass with hot water for a few minutes before discarding. Dissolve molasses in 3 oz of near-boiling water. Add the booze and stir. Serve hot.
Optional additions: grated nutmeg or a twist of lemon might make nice garnishes, but I didn’t have any on hand to try. Fees Brothers Black Walnut Bitters are good, and help with the ‘black’ theme, but you need a good 4 or 5 dashes to stand up to the other strong ingredients. Edit: and I just discovered that a few dashes of orange bitters (Angostura) – instead or as well as the Black Walnut – cuts through the nastiness very well.
Verdict: It looks like motor oil in colour and consistency. It tastes like Chinese medicine. That said, the three powerhouse ingredients do balance each other out quite well, and if you like strong bitter flavours, you might like it. Also, I swear it’s doing wonders for my sore throat.
Certainly a toddy for Krampus, or perhaps one to leave out for Santa (if you don’t want him to come back next year).
Merry Christmas!!! (and don’t be too good)