This week’s post comes from our newest Cocktail Novice contributor, Jim Moore. Jim is my dad and, full disclosure, not a novice. Also, in true novice fashion, this post is coming at you a little late.
Anyway, onto this weeks Hump Day Happy Hour: Christmas Eve Anisette. Brought to you by Jim Moore Montemurro.
In the Italian American neighborhood of my youth, the cordial of Christmas cordiality was always Jacquin’s Anisette, prominently displayed on the dining room table. Surrounded by sparkling clean shot glasses ( the kind with the little handles) , it always rested in a round metal tray, the kind beer distributors sold or gave away during the holidays. Ours proudly proclaimed the righteousness and purity of Rheingold Beer.
This was a time when virtually your entire family lived no more than two or three blocks away. The holidays were a revolving door of grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Everyone stopped by to say Buon Natale . The women would be in the kitchen with their Chase and Sanborn coffee, the kids in the basement with their ginger ale and pizzelles, and the men in the living room pouring shots of Anisette and puffing on Di Nobili cigars. This ritual was repeated in almost every household and in retrospect the pouring of the Anisette seemed almost sacramental: a special drink reserved for a special time. The appearance of the Anisette bottle meant joy, happiness, and good times were about to drive dull care away for a week or ten days.
This past Christmas Eve I found myself at the state liquor store looking for some last minute things. I was thinking Sambuca but I noticed, hiding on the very bottom shelf and looking as if it hadn’t aged a bit in 60 years, was Jacquin’s Anisette. I impulsively grabbed a bottle, purchased it, and brought it home. I found a round metal tray ( no beer advertisements) , dug out a bunch of mis-matched shot glasses, and prominently displayed it on my dining room table. That evening, amid family and friends, we repeated the ritual and I felt an instant connection to the past and a great tradition. It did feel sacramental.
For me, Christmas has become much less about ” doing” and much more about simply remembering. I kept that bottle on the table throughout the holidays, it’s Swiss Guard of shot glasses standing empty but ready. It constantly reminded me of my dad, his friends, my grandfathers, my uncles, and all the sweet Christmases I knew as a child.
And here’s a little recipe, to keep with “tradition”:
Christmas Eve Anisette
- 1 Bottle Jacquin’s Speciale Anisette
- 10 Shot Glasses
Pour Anisette into shot glasses. Drink. Repeat often.