Epiphany

Bright red festive cocktails garnished with orange slices sit on a holiday table.

Little Christmas

Growing up, we always celebrated Little Christmas as well as Christmas. I don’t recall knowing anyone else who did, so here’s a little context if you’d like it:

Little Christmas, also known as Epiphany, Three Kings Day and other names, is January 6 on the calendar. This is officially the twelfth day of Christmas that you’ve heard so much about. It’s the twelfth day after Christmas, not before. It marks the day that the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem after learning of the birth of Jesus twelve days earlier.

What this meant in practical terms was that we kept all the trappings of Christmas until January 6. The tree, decorations, and Christmas music were still in full swing. There was no rush to get rid of holiday treats yet. For me, this period was always some of the best of the holiday because it was so relaxing. Since the big event was officially over, there was nothing left to do but enjoy. It was like everything was stripped down to essentials. No more rushing around, no more planning or fussing. Simply the holiday atmosphere of lights, food, and music

Some people thought it was odd that our tree stayed up. In some other cultures, I understand this celebration is pretty common. In recent years, it feels like it’s gotten even more unusual, as people seem to leave Christmas behind even more quickly (it seems to me) but I still like to do it this way.

Elizabeth and I decided to invite some good friends over to celebrate Little Christmas. I had a cocktail in mind, one that I’d meant to make on Christmas Eve but didn’t. (If you must know, it’s because I threw my back out and had to recuse myself from most of the party.)

By Request

There had been a request for a cranberry-based cocktail on Christmas Eve. I carefully saved homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving for the occasion. My aunt Sheila always made a wonderful one, with fresh cranberries, apples, and walnuts.

Even though Elizabeth was serving Glurgg, another Christmas tradition, I thought we could make room for this pending request.

Folks, this cocktail was even better than the test run I’d made in December. It was delightfully rich and sort of decadent. It looked warm and beautiful, unlike our weather, and felt just right in front of a Christmas tree in January. I really felt like it was a treat, not only in terms of flavor, but I also enjoyed the feeling that no one else was doing what we were doing! It was a lovely way to enjoy the last day of the Christmas season and enjoy the feeling with good friends.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. Gin

  • 3/4 oz. Grand Marnier

  • 3/4 oz. Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 3 Tbsp. Homemade Cranberry Sauce (leftover from the holidays)

  • Mandarin Orange slice (garnish)

  • Rosemary Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup rosemary leaves

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup monk fruit

Directions

  • Muddle the cranberry sauce in a shaker. The one I make is my aunt’s recipe, and has whole cranberries, apples, and walnuts. Don’t use the walnuts, but do use the rest, as well as any of the juice.
  • Add the liquids and ice; shake until satisfied.
  • Garnish and enjoy!
  • Rosemary Simple Syrup
  • I picked rosemary out of our garden and stripped the leaves off the stem; pick enough to fill 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup. I come down on the larger side because I love rosemary. (The stem can lend a bitter taste, so don’t use that.) Boil with water and sugar/monk fruit for about a minute, then step for about 30.
  • If using monk fruit (which I use because Elizabeth likes it) make sure to keep it under 50% of the sweet mixture or the syrup will crystallize like crazy. I learned that the hard way! Use a little more sugar than monk fruit, and it should be fine.
Enjoyed on January 10, 2022

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