‘twas some nights before Christmas (alright, three months before)
And Ben was a-mixing some bitters for all
He flavoured them richly, with many a plant
And left them to marry in a cask from Glen Grant
He then added frankincense with a satisfied purr
And threw in a handful of the very best myrrh
Next up was some gold, for sparkle and glitter
then he spread the good word with a message on Twitter.
He called to us gaily, with all of his might:
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night”
That took me over 10 minutes to write so I really find it hard to believe you’ll need any more information than that. Also, thank you RhymeZone.com.
For those of you who do want to know more about what some critics may be calling “the biggest thing to happen to Christmas since Coca Cola invented Santa Claus” then read on…
“but I didn’t get to shake my belly like a bowl full of jelly…”
As many of you loyal blog-readers will know, we’ve been into the ol’ compounding and mixin’ business for a while now, having created a vast range of liqueurs, cocktails and cocktail bitters, so when it comes to crazy botanicals and wildly exotic flavourings, we’ve got them pretty well sussed.
Many’s the time when Ben will have a huge package (no, not like that, please behave) filled with all kinds of wild herbs and whatnot, so it didn’t take long before one day we had both Frankincense and Myrrh sitting side by side. You can probably see where this is going by now…
It all started when Ben, our evil overlord beloved boss was sitting up one evening with Neil Ridley from CaskStrength.net. The booze had been flowing and ideas had started bouncing around about a tasty new concoction, when Ben mentioned he had access to a stash of finest Frankincense and Myrrh. After a little discussion there was an epiphany moment: “Hold the phone! You can buy actual drinks with bits of gold floating around in them!”
Now put those hands together and waddya got? A good excuse to sell a concoction filled with shards of metal? Wrong. Well kind of, but what we were actually going for is:
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now, if you’re going to buy a new-born baby a gift, put a little more thought into it than two of the three “wise” men did. I mean, gold, sure, even then that wise man knew gold holds its value better than a steel-bracelet Rolex or a signed copy of Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine (the former commands a few thousand quid and the latter remains consistently at a state of near worthlessness, but it never changes). Gold is a good nest egg for a new-born babe. Frankincense and Myrrh on the other hand… well… Frankincense is just smelly tree resin. Its aroma is very nice and all, but it’s of little use to an infant, and when have you ever heard one of your chums with a three-month-old declare: “yeah, he’s a funny little tyke, but he doesn’t half go through some Myrrh.”
You’ll never lose money if you invest in one of these
Now that we’ve got that rant out of the way, let’s move onto how these delicious bitters were concocted. We’ve already listed the ingredients on our blog, when we played “Guess that booze!” (an old favourite based loosely on the classic game “name that strain of barley”).
When it came to creating Christmas Bitters, a key part was making them useful for Christmas time. Tropical Tiki punches are great in July, but designing anything suitable for a fruity rum drink and slapping the word “Christmas” on them isn’t a recipe for festive success, so we had to mix bitters for use in winter-warmers; drinks made with rich spirits like whisky, brandy or rum. Spice is the name of the game, so not only did we use Xmas favourites like nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and sweet sherry, we also added some more exotic “Eastern” spices, like star anise, cardamom and allspice. We added in some cocoa for richness and body, and then the kind of fruits you usually enjoy when Santa comes to town: clementine peel, cranberries, dried orange peel, cherries, dates and raisins. We popped in some mixed nuts and roasted chestnut for good measure, a hint of pine extract, some Lapsang Souchong tea, and then it was time for the three wise men’s gifts…
Myrrh (mmm myrrh)
And even 23 Carat Gold Dust!
We even added a light dusting of Star of Bethlehem, just to make sure!
Gold for baby’s future, myrrh for baby’s poorly tummy and Frankincense
because it’s the scent anyone who’s anyone is wearing in Zero AD.
As anyone who has ever tried to make their own drinks will know, time plays a big part. It’s important to leave things together for a while so that they “marry” properly (unlike actual marriage, where we all know that too much time spent together will result in you going slightly nuts).
With this in mind, we’ve popped the bitters into that same cask that held our first batch of Whisky Bitters (a beautiful little octave cask that previously held 38 year old Glen Grant!), and this time we’ve even gone the extra mile and set up a festive scene for all to enjoy.
We’ve erected a handsome, genuine-artificial inspired-by-douglas-fir Christmas tree, to which we’ve rigged up some ultra-discount USB-powered Christmas lights, before finally affixing a small cardboard cutout Brian Blessed angel/Prince Vultan to the top. We were going for that classic Pink-Floyd-when-they-were-skint/1980s-superhero chic. I think it’s working for us.
Sure, if we had their budget…
Using the very latest in webcam technology, we then trained a camera onto the scene and have set up a live feed, so any time of day you can check in to see how the cask is doing (at night time, you’ll be greeted with darkness, and nothing else). As this scene doesn’t involve much movement, we could have just posted a photo of it, but there’s something quite gripping about the intensity of live news coverage.
To add yet more excitement to the proceedings, you can pre-order your Christmas Bitters from us!
You can do this on the Christmas Bitters page, where you’ll see the webcam feed, as well as have the pleasure of hearing the dulcet tones of Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, which is on loop and will continue to play over and over and over and over and ov…
We’ll bottle the bitters in the handy 100ml size, with very handsome labels, and you can pre-order yours for just £12.95.
An artist’s impression of how the bitters will look:
We use the term “artist” in its most general sense
We will bottle the bitters on the 31st October 2011 and anyone who pre-orders their bottle will receive it shortly after.
So, Happy October to all and to all a good night…
– The Chaps at Master of Malt –