Yuletide favourites: 'Redeemable for gold' Christmas cocktail

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By Debbie Yong

The Business Times

Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013

  • Storybook stuff

    Stefan Ravalli
    General manager of cocktail bar The Library and Keong Saik Snacks on Keong Saik Road

    "I grew up in a suburb of Toronto called Mississauga, and Christmas was always a pretty big affair for me. On Christmas Eve, we would usually go to Church for an early mass followed by a small dinner, often with a more Italian focus as my grandparents on one side of my family are from Italy.

    "On Christmas Day, the extended family would come over and there would be turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, spiced mashed sweet potatoes, parmesan, asparagus or green beans, and many other things. My mother would bake for the whole of December to prepare for her own solo exhibition during the dinner. She'd have shortbread, Swedish butter balls, black-bottomed coconut bars, truffles, rum balls, chocolate bark and, as a centrepiece, her much-loved butter tarts, a pastry filled with sultanas, vanilla, butter, sugar and other goodness. After the first bite, you had to hold them at a 90 degree angle because the sweet interior would ooze out everywhere.

    "Occasionally, our family would also drive an all-terrain vehicle to our cottage in the woods on the days after Christmas. We'd drive across a frozen lake, slide down a toboggan in the snowy wilderness and drink hot cocoa - and all that storybook stuff. I kind of miss that."

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  • For the fat-washed cognac
  • 100ml sultana raisins
  • 75g pastry lard
  • one bottle of cognac
  • For the cocktail
  • 50ml "fat-washed" cognac
  • 5ml pecan date syrup
  • 2 dashes Vanilla Bitters
  • 1. "Fat-wash" or infuse the cognac by soaking 100ml of sultana raisins in a bottle of cognac for a few weeks up to a month.
  • 2. Cook the lard in a pan until it liquefies, then pour in the cognac. Mix well and leave to sit for at least 24 hours. After 24 hours, move the mixture into the freezer and leave until the solids have frozen. Strain the mixture and collect the liquid, which is the fat-washed cognac.
  • 3. Take 50ml of the liquid and stir together with the syrup and bitters and serve in a short glass over rocks. Garnish with orange zest and other holiday ornamentation.