Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

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Editor’s Note: As more people are working from home, Bloomberg Pursuits is running a weekly Lunch Break column that highlights a notable recipe from a top cookbook and the hack that makes it genius.

What better way to send off 2020 than with a drink.

The online alcohol platform Drizly Inc. reported a 350% spike in sales compared to last year, according to a report released earlier this month. Among the liquor store owners surveyed, 44% expected holiday sales to be significantly higher than in years past; 63% expected sales to at least match typical fourth quarters.

It’s also been a great year for cocktail books, particularly those with a sharp focus. Among the standouts: Spirits of Latin America by Ivy Mix; the new non-alcoholic bible, Good Drinks by Julia Bainbridge, and Drink French by David Leibovitz

Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

But if Bloomberg Pursuits is going to pick a favorite cocktail tome, it will be Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Drinks (Penguin Random House; $25). Author John deBary has contributed here in the past, so we can vouch for his creds, which include time behind the stick at PDT (Please Don’t Tell), the famed New York speakeasy and 2011 World’s Best Bar.

He’s also a pretty nice guy, having co-founded the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which has raised $7.25 million for Covid relief since the start of the pandemic.

The genius of his book is making mixology less intimidating. “This is for people who feel like cocktail books are inaccessible unless you’re a pro bartender,” deBary says. “And to make them feel comfortable making drinks that they like, even if they’re not perfect.”

Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

As proof of the book’s unconventional approach, Drink What You Want is divided into chapters with headings like ‘Feeling Classic,’ and ‘Feeling Fancy’ which includes a Collins-styled drink with the simple twist of adding saffron threads to the gin.   

The book’s most recognizable drink, both visually and by reputation, is the Shark, a bright blue cocktail that mixes two kinds of rum with blue curaçao, the hazelnut liqueur Frangelica, and pineapple juice. It’s in the ‘Feeling Festive’ chapter and is meant to be a tiki drink suitable for winter.

“It was almost a dare. The idea of a blue drink at a fancy, serious cocktail bar seemed insane. Now it’s become a staple,” says deBary of creating it for PDT around 2012. “It shows that any good drink can be worthy of attention at a top bar.”

Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

To hack the formula for tropical libations usually made with pebble ice, deBary turned the Shark into a blender drink. Instead of the coconut cream that enrich so many cocktails garnished with a little umbrella, this one is made with a dash of heavy cream. Most important, though, is the color.

“I’m a huge blue drinks person,” says deBary. “It’s a cool demonstration of how a color doesn’t have to change the flavor but can transform the experience.”

The drink itself, which is made in minutes once you have your Buttered Rum, is absolutely delightful. It’s got the sweet tang of pineapple juice with undulating richness from the cream and the infused rum, all backed by a nutty hit of hazelnut liqueur. It’s a quintessential vacation party drink, especially suited to people who probably aren’t going anywhere right now.

DeBary says the Shark isn’t based on a classic cocktail. Instead he compares it to the kind of rich meal you would see in a Norman Rockwell painting, with a ham festooned with pineapple and cherries. “It’s not a dessert cocktail. It demands your full attention.” 

And you know what? It’s extremely fun.

We can’t think of a better end-of-2020 message than a blue blender drink that proudly does its own thing. Happy Holidays, everyone.

The following recipe is adapted from Drink What You Want, by John deBary. Tester’s note: Depending on the quality of your blender, the cocktail might separate shortly after blending. It’s still a compelling drink, but less photogenic.

The Shark

Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

Serves 4

6 oz. (¾ cup) Buttered Rum (recipe follows)
3 oz. overproof Jamaican rum, such as Wray & Nephew
2 oz. blue curaçao
2 oz. Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1 ¼ oz. cane syrup or Rich Simple Syrup (see Note)
3 oz. fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 ½  oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. heavy cream
¼ oz. Bitterman’s Elemakule Tiki bitters or Angostura bitters 
2 cups ice cubes
Cocktail umbrellas and lemon slices, for garnish (optional)

In a blender, combine all the drink ingredients. Blend on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into chilled old-fashioned glasses and garnish with lemon slices and cocktail umbrellas, if using.

Note: Golden brown cane syrup is popular in Southern and Caribbean cooking and has a more caramel flavor than regular simple syrup. It’s readily available by mail order and at many specialty food stores. To substitute, rich simple syrup is easily made by combining 2 parts sugar in 1 part water—for instance, 1 cup sugar in ½ cup water—over moderate heat until dissolved.

Forget Eggnog: A Blue Blender Drink Is the Holiday Cocktail You Need

Buttered Rum

Makes about 12 oz.

12 oz. (1 ½ cups or ½ bottle) white rum, such as Banks 5 Island
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

In a medium container, combine the rum and melted butter. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour, until the butter has solidified.

Strain the rum through a very fine strainer, discarding the solids. Leftover rum can be refrigerated for up 1 month. It’s especially good in hot toddies, and it can also be used to enhance simple rum drinks like daiquiris

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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