While the holidays are often filled with spices like nutmeg, allspice, clove and cinnamon, the unfortunate part is that the vehicle for these spices often arrives in the form of sickeningly sweet, nog-derived drinks that are about as subtle as an ugly Christmas sweater. A better approach is to look outside of the standard holiday repertoire to cocktails that reflect some of those same flavor profiles we expect this time of year, but that don’t sacrifice on complexity and nuance.
Take the Hocus Pocus: a spicy, earthy homage to one of the few female bartenders in history, Ada Coleman, who was best known for creating the Hanky Panky cocktail. Christy Pope, a bartender and co-owner of Midnight Rambler in Dallas, created this drink using both East India Sherry, which could be thought of as the black strap rum of sherries, along with tequila and a host of modifiers that create a Mole-esque palate. Sherry might seem a little unorthodox for what some drinkers prefer in their cocktails, but in this case, it simply stands in the place of sweet vermouth beautifully.
Ada Coleman’s original Hanky Panky cocktail was made with equal parts gin and sweet vermouth with a hint of Fernet Branca, and this updated version provides a rounder and richer experience, fit for the colder winter months. This new combination of chile, cumin, cinnamon and chocolate flavors, along with the hint of a nutty-fig undertone from the sherry, balances the Hocus Pocus perfectly for a more sophisticated holiday drinking experience. Enjoy.
- 1 1/2 ounces Ancho Infused Lustau East India Sherry
- 1 1/2 ounces Tapatio Blanco Tequila
- 3/4 teaspoon Tempus Fugit Cacao
- 1/2 teaspoon Bigallet China-China Amer
- 1/2 teaspoon Ancho Reyes
- 1/4 teaspoon Combier Kummel
- 2 drops mineral saline
- 1 whole star anise, reserved for garnish
- Combine ingredients into a chilled mixing glass and stir for 10-15 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a whole star anise.
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