The Kraken Old Fashioned (a.k.a Caribbean Christmas)

Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

While stocking up on booze in New Jersey over the holidays, this interesting little gem caught my eye...

I can't say particularly what drew me to The Kraken, if it was my childhood love of the original The Clash of the Titans (1981), my college-age infatuation with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (we all make mistakes), or the $15.99 price tag; perhaps all of the above. Whatever the attraction, we needed a dark rum and the Kraken seemed like a fun little toy to experiment with. It promised the type of dark, molasses-y qualities of Myers or Goslings Black Seal at half the price and with a hint of spice that can be quite lovely when not overdone. I'm looking at you, Cap'n...

After reading the label, checking out the website and tasting it, I have to admit, I'm still a little confused by this product. Although it's not what you would consider a craft liquor -- it contains caramel color and "natural flavors" -- I found The Kraken rather enjoyable.  It has an interesting nose, similar to Captain Morgan but more subtle and complex. It has little of the depth I associate with black rum but is robust enough to hold up to most anything you want to throw at it -- or more accurately, into it. It calls itself imported (via Jersey City, I might add...) but is bottled and, I guess, blended in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, which I imagine is across the border from Johnsburg, Illinois. But I digress...

As Rose and I set out to concoct a few cocktails on New Year's Eve, I tasked myself with putting the Kraken to good use. As this was not the first project I took on for the night, and as my cocktail creativity usually declines as evenings wear on and inebriation mounts, and as I am finally aware of the fact that my late-night creations are usually not particularly inspired or even palatable, I opted to go with a variation on a theme. We had talked about Old Fashioneds earlier in the evening so I figured I would mine that particular vein for inspiration. Since I wasn't working with authentic ingredients, I went for the least old-school Old Fashioned recipe I knew. I have to say, for the booze in question, even though it would make Don Draper roll over in his grave, it worked really well.

The Kraken Old Fashioned

2 1/2 ounces Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 ounce club soda

4 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters

2 half wheel orange slices

2 maraschino cherries

Muddle an orange slice, cherry and bitters at the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Fill glass with ice and add Kraken rum. Toss between the glass and a shaker tin to mix. Top with club soda and garnish with the other orange slice and cherry.

Tasting Notes

Although the recipe is based on the classic, the end result is closer to the Caribbean islands than a Manhattan speakeasy. I got a real tropical sense from the drink, while my cousin Chris said it "tasted like Christmas."  This could be a fun recipe to try with an assortment of aged and black rums and a variety of bitters as well. If you get to experimenting with the recipe, or with the Kraken, let us know!

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Glögg (Swedish Christmas Punch)

Guest Post by Sean Lorre

Besides the obvious excitements and disappointments associated with what Santa would or wouldn’t leave me under the tree, my favorite thing about Christmas as a kid was the wonderful smells of the holiday. The scent of the tree, the aroma of Christmas cookies in the oven, sugar and spice and… well, you get the picture.

 

As part of the annual holiday festivities, my family gathered at my grandpa  Marlowe's house for Christmas brunch. Sure, there was merriment, gift giving, good cheer and something about the baby Jesus, I think, but, like all Marlovian holidays, Christmas was mainly about two things: eating and drinking. An entire room of my grandfather’s spacious Victorian house was dedicated to the foods and potables of the season.  Featured in this den of holiday delights was Glögg, a steaming, sometimes flaming –Glögg is traditionally served en flambé—ruby red elixir made of red wine, high-proof spirits, citrus and spices, whose scent for me was the very embodiment of Christmas.

For years, I looked forward to the day that I would be old enough to not only smell the Glögg, but to taste it. Unfortunately, by the time I was of sufficient years to drink among family members, Christmas brunch was relocated to the home of my one and only tee-totaling uncle and Glogg was off the menu. When Rose and I decided to host a Christmas party last year I knew I finally had my opportunity, a Marlowe tradition would be reborn!

 

Glögg

1 bottle red wine 1 cup aquavit
1/2 cup sugar 1 cinnamon stick 5 cloves 4 cardamon seeds, crushed 1 orange peel spiral 1 lemon peel spiral (optional) 1/4 cup slivered almonds

 

 

Combine aquavit, wine , sugar, spices and orange peel in a saucepan. Heat but do not boil. The original recipe from my mother’s Scandinavian cookbook calls for twice as much booze and to “light with a match and pour burning into heat proof glasses.” I prefer to keep my pyrotechnics and alcohol consumption separate, but if you are feeling adventurous, go for it!

Glögg was just as delicious to drink as I always imagined. The depth of flavor from the wine mixed with the aromatics and the belly-warming quality of the aquavit creates a perfect balance, truly holiday cheer in a glass.

Tasting notes: I've found that a middle-of-the road red wine works best. Something that is not too dry but not too fruit-forward either. I like to use a malbec as they are usually well-balanced and have good body. If you don't have access to/want to go out and buy aquavit, rum, brandy, moonshine, etc, will work.

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