Dec. 4 Dance of the Sugar Plum Duppy
In Vera Nazarian's book, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration, she writes "The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale...” When I first heard the tale of the Nutcracker, and watched the ballet, I found the idea of things coming to life and dancing around at night, while I was sleeping, to be a bit terrifying. When I began spending time in the Caribbean, and heard the tales of the duppy, it felt vaguely familiar.
Welcome back, thirsty readers, as we embark on day 4 of our holiday countdown. For today's drink, I wanted to combine a beloved holiday tale with something that speaks to the rums involved. I didn't think we would make it too far into this list without mentioning that wooden toy soldier brought to life.
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was a German story, written in 1816. It's hard to comprehend how this absurdly strange tale became a Christmas staple, but it most surely became immortalized in 1892, when Tchaikovsky wrote the immortal ballet The Nutcracker, based on the tale. We begin at a grand Christmas party, where a young girl is gifted a wooden nutcracker. The girl, Clara, loves the nutcracker, but soon makes her brother jealous, so he breaks the toy.
Clara is heartbroken, and sneaks down late at night to see her broken toy. Suddenly, the clock strikes midnight, and the huge Christmas tree begins to grow. The room is flooded with an army of mice, and both toys and tree begin to dramatically increase in size, until the nutcracker is larger than Clara herself. A battle breaks out between the mice and toys, until the nutcracker slays the mouse king, and the room is at peace.
Yeah, this certainly sounds like a wholesome story to tell the kids before bed. When I heard about the Caribbean spirits, known as duppy, I thought about the old nutcracker tale. Duppy came out at night, and so did the mouse king. I pictured a small child surrounded by mice and live toys. "This was the thing of nightmares," I thought, but no, it was just another pleasant fairy tale.
I learned form a few of my friends in Jamaica, that it was customary to pour out a little rum to "scare out the duppy." Should Clara have just poured out a little rum to sooth the spirits, or was this all just a bad dream? Maybe a cocktail can take this horrific image of mouse armies away. If not, at least it tastes good.
Dance of the
Sugar Plum Duppy
1.5oz Lightly aged Barbados Rum
.5oz Overproof Jamaican Rum
.5oz Ginger Syrup
.75oz Lime Juice
1.5oz Pineapple Juice
Collins or Footed Tumbler Glass
Whip shake and pour unstrained into gingerbread-crusted glass.
Top with crushed ice.
Garnish with pineapple fronds, orchid, and ornament.
*notice: no nuts were cracked in the making of this cocktail. *
Go ahead and pour out some rum to keep the duppy away. With this year being what it's been, I don't see any reason to not take each and every precaution available. If I haven't mentioned before, we bar and restaurant folks are really hurting right now, so try and source these ingredients from the little guys. They'll thank you for it. As for me, my head is an absolute mess today, and it's time to do that spirit shaking thing again to pay the bills. I'll see you all tomorrow. Keep your heads up, and keep shaking.