A Very Berry Christmas

For many of us, Christmas brings to mind typical seasonal ingredients: cinnamon, rosemary, cranberries, etc. But for me? I become wistful for strawberries. Yes, strawberries. And it’s because of one simple reason: nostalgia. 

It actually took me a while to remember this particular childhood Christmas experience. My most vivid childhood Holiday memories are of opening gifts and spending time with family. But I’ve always had a nostalgic connection to strawberries during this time of year. And I didn’t think too much of it until recently. “What’s the connection?” I thought to myself. There’s gotta be a reason. I must’ve had some childhood interaction with them during the holidays. Maybe I had them in a dessert? A treat? A stocking?

Then it dawned on me. When I was little, my mom would take my brothers and I Christmas shopping at the mall. When we were all said and done, we would unwind with a delicious meal at the long-since closed mall diner. For dessert, I would order a tall, delicious strawberry milkshake. It was my absolute favourite part of the day.

With that childhood memory freshly in mind, I set out to make a tribute (in alcohol form). Those that know me well know that I’ve become a bit of a fizz addict (see Kiwi and Violet). There’s just something about a frothy, dessert-like cocktail that I can’t resist. And what better time to indulge in one than the Holiday season when we’re already in full ‘Dessert and Cocktail’ mode?

With nostalgia in full gear, here’s what I came up with:

Cocktail Recipe

In a shaker with ice, add ingredients except for soda and shake well. Strain out ice and shake again. Pour a splash of club soda into a Collins glass. Double-strain contents of shaker into Collins glass and slowly top with club soda.

Strawberry and Vanilla Syrup Recipe

  • 1 ½ cup strawberries (halved)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 vanilla beans

Add water, strawberries, and vanilla beans to a pot of water. Turn to medium-high heat and let simmer. Mash strawberries and stir often. At the first sign of a boil, remove pot from heat and let cool. Strain into a bottle and refrigerate.

I’ve served A Very Berry Christmas a couple times already and have gotten the following reactions:

“This tastes exactly like a strawberry milkshake!”

“Are you sure there’s alcohol in this!?”

“Can I have a second?”

“Who are you and what are you doing in my house?”

If you’re unfamiliar with RumChata, it’s a Caribbean cream rum with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and spices. It’s unique profile provides a light and creamy texture to the cocktail and pairs well with the spicier notes of the Sailor Jerry. The two rums work well with the seasonal flavours you expect at Christmas. The strawberry and vanilla syrup add both fruitiness and sweetness that transform the cocktail into a dessert in liquid form – bringing back old memories of my strawberry milkshake. 

When many of us think of the Holidays, it’s the stereotypical sights, sounds, and ingredients that often come to mind. But to me, it’s the personal experiences that are the most meaningful. With this cocktail, I’ve managed to share a personal Christmas memory with my friends and family in liquid form.

So if you haven’t already, find your own “very berry memory” and relive it this season. It may be difficult to remember a long-forgotten Holiday experience, but it will make the season much more special.

Happy Holidays!