Not being a fan of many old-timey holiday drinks, I wasn’t sure what to expect when the latest installment of the spirited history theatre series The Imbible promised “Christmas Carol Cocktails.” So when someone handed me a Brandy Syllabub before the start of the show, describing it as a “proto nog,” I was dubious that I’d like it.
According to Dictionary.com, the British dictionary defines syllabub as “a spiced drink made of milk with rum, port, brandy, or wine, often hot.” This wasn’t hot, it was faintly carbonated, and it was amazing—I wanted another. What made it so delicious?
This particular Syllabub used a fig brandy and a local Belgian-style ale (full recipe below). I tried to replicate the drink at home using a more generic brandy and whatever beer we had in the refrigerator (likely a pilsner). Needless to say, it wasn’t the same, but I’m going to work on it so I can serve it to holiday guests.
As for the new Off-Broadway show, like “The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking” and “The Imbible: Rum Drinks….And Pirates” the latest installment incorporates music, comedy and cocktails. Created by mixologist, spirits educator and author Anthony Caporale, the play is a loose interpretation of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.
The story picks up the morning after Ebeneezer Scrooge’s visits from the Christmas ghosts. The rejuvenated Scrooge wants to celebrate the holiday by throwing a party “just like old Fezziwig,” but he needs help—especially with the libations. Another trip through time and space brings three Christmas Spirits who teach Scrooge about mixing cocktails past, present and future.
The Imbible: Christmas Carol Cocktails is a special engagement playing through Jan. 2 at The Elektra Theatre in Times Square; tickets are $75. In addition to the Brandy Syllabub, the show includes a Drambuie Mocha hot coffee drink and a Molecular Candy Cane Martini. Cheers!
Top photo, a scene from The Imbible: Christmas Carol Cocktails. From left: Barley (Lee Cortopassi), Scrooge (Andre Orsie), Islay (Jillian Kuhl) and Brandy (Kate Hoover).
1 oz. Nahmias et Fils Mahia fig brandy
2 tbsp. Sugar
4 oz. Whipping cream
1 oz. Fresh orange juice
¼ tsp. Vanilla extract
3 scrapings Lemon zest
1 sprig Fresh rosemary
4 oz. The Plunge Coney Island Belgian-style ale
Combine ingredients (except beer) and shake until cream is thickened. Add beer and swirl to incorporate. Strain into a wide glass and garnish with shaved nutmeg.