Popularized in the late 1990s thanks to an episode of Seinfeld, the “holiday” known as Festivus is now celebrated in varying degrees of seriousness throughout the world. Conceived by writer Dan O’Keefe as an alternative to the over-commercialization of Christmas, it has somewhat ironically bred quite an industry of its own.
The symbol of Festivus is a bare aluminum pole, an icon chosen for its stark contrast to the traditional highly decorated Christmas tree. During the holiday, the pole is displayed unadorned and praised for its “high strength-to-weight ratio.” Among the holiday’s traditions is The Airing of Grievances—a ritual during which each member of the family tells the others all the ways in which they have disappointed them throughout the year—and The Feats of Strength. Traditionally, this is where the head of the household challenges another participant in the celebration to a wresting match. Festivus is said to reach its conclusion once the head of the household is pinned to the floor.
I created this drink to contribute to the surprisingly small number of Festivus-themed cocktails; to be able to offer up something egg nog-ish but a little more quirky to holiday guests this year; and, of course, to make use of one of The Brewer’s Art‘s finest seasonal brews. What does it taste like? A Festivus Miracle, of course!
St. Festivus Flip
3 oz. Brewer’s Art St. Festivus Ale
1 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1/2 oz. Grade B Maple Syrup
1 Whole Organic Egg
Cranberries and grated nutmeg for garnish
Combine the beer, rum, and maple syrup in a mixing glass. Swirl to decarbonate the beer. Add the whole egg and dry shake for 15 seconds to allow the egg to emulsify. Add ice, shake, and strain into a chilled fizz glass. Grate the nutmeg over the top of the drink and garnish with three cranberries.
Beer cocktails. So hot right now. And if you believe the Baltimore Sun, they are something of a trend in Charm City, not to mention elsewhere. I must admit to being late to the party, not really getting wind of this so-called trend until browsing the drinks menu at Of Love & Regret not too long ago. But I’m not really a trendy guy. Nevertheless, you’ll have to believe me that the idea for this concoction came to me not as a result of trying to hop on some bibulous bandwagon, but rather as an attempt to remix elements of drinks from a couple of famous barkeeps—one local and one not—with some ingredients indigenous to Baltimore into a cocktail that captures the flavor of the city, cigarette butts and all.
At its core, Way Down in the Hole is a modified Michelada, but it also pays homage to Jim Meehan’s Beer and a Smoke as well as my buddy Russell de Ocampo’s infamous Kosher Boh. Like Baltimore City, Way Down in the Hole could be an acquired taste for some. I have never licked a Baltimore sidewalk and am happy believing that this drink serves up enough tastes of the town so that I will never have to. All kidding aside, I was pretty impressed—and, to be honest, more than a bit surprised—with how good this cocktail tasted. What you get is an earthy, yet refreshing and well-balanced palate with a hint of smoke along with a bit of heat creeping in on the finish and lingering well after each sip. Sounds like Baltimore to me.
Way Down in the Hole
1 oz. Los Nahuales Mezcal Joven
1/2 oz. Pikesville Rye
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
1 dash Fee Brothers Celery Bitters
4-6 dashes Woodberry Kitchen Snake Oil hot sauce
1 bar spoon Soy Sauce
6 oz. National Bohemian Beer
Zest of Orange and Lime for garnish
Combine the mezcal, rye, lime juice, bitters, hot sauce, and soy sauce in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled Collins glass rimmed with Old Bay and half-filled with ice. Top with beer and add the orange and lime zest for garnish.