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Walker Menus: Holiday Scoundrels

Walker Menus: Holiday Scoundrels

For a bunch of kids from northern climes, living in LA is a bit of a mixed bag. Yeah, sure, it’s beautiful all the time, but when December comes around we have a need deep in our bones that can only tamed by the nip of cold weather and a healthy dose of holiday cheer. To say we love the holidays is, well, a bit of an understatement. It’s the kind of nostalgia that’s so much like a drug, curable only by ugly oversized sweaters, country Christmas music (yes, really), and as much decoration as we can cram into a room.

 

Menu

Some Walker menus have been literal, others are ephemeral, and some downright cheeky. For the holidays, we were on the fence: obviously, we have to do something that nods towards the season and our collective expectations of what that means. But we didn’t want to be so literal, but rather lateral, taking inspiration from something that runs parallel to all the glitz of the season. We found ourselves not only discussing expected holiday themes — Hannukah, Christmas, shopping, indulgent eating, St. Nick — but maybe it’s ‘cause we’re apart of the TV generally, more so we reminisced about our favorite movies and tv shows.

And, in particular, our favorite antagonists from iconic holiday films, the holiday scoundrels that accompany every iconic film. Some are villains, others are just bad seeds, but in our imaginations we see each of them loving a good drink. We then asked ourselves: what would they be drinking while plotting, scheming, ruining Christmas, etc?

Here’s what we came up with.

– Katie Emmerson

Holiday Scoundrel Cocktails

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OSHIBORI & AMUSE

The Idea: LA = no snow. Boo-hoo! Transforming the Walker Inn into a winter wonderland took hours of decorating and A Travis Tritt Christmas on repeat. Garlands, a well-appointed Christmas tree, and a snowy village — all transformed the bar into immersive environment. As guests arrived and were greeted with a menu, we kicked off their time at the bar with a hot towel scented with holiday aroma and a glass of cider. We split the cider between Le Brun organic cider from Britany and Anthem Hopped cider — a delicious marriage of dry and fruit. To the side we lit some high proof rum and dashed cinnamon on top, aromatizing the room.

The smell of the woods was everywhere to be found. Settle in and let’s get drinkin’!

Techniques & Ingredients: Flamed cinnamon is a great way to quickly perfume the area around a cocktail. To further the intensity of the aroma, we filled the husk of a lemon (from juicing) with high proof rum and lit it on fire. The dashed cinnamon sparks and crackles, while the rum and lemon give a pungent backbone for the spice. While grating raw cinnamon sticks will work, we recommend buying highly pulverized cinnamon and dashing from a salt shaker — the sparks are awesomely dramatic.

GrinchII

The Grinch

The Idea: Is there a more iconic holiday curmudgeon than the Grinch? Perched high on the mountain in his lair, we picture The Grinch plotting and scheming all while swirling a glass of Beaujolais. Because of course he would.

As in other Walker wines (cocktails that are meant to mimic and amplify the flavors of a style of wine), The Grinch is our homage to a juicy fruit-forward Gamay wine. Built on the structure of a Cabernet Franc, we sought not only to recreate the the idea of Beaujolais, but to amplify the characteristics that make it special. Clear Creek’s Cranberry Liqueur underscored the winter fruitiness of the wine, while also bringing plenty of astringency. Byrrh.

The Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz Le Bon Petit Diable Cabernet Franc
  • 0.75 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 0.75 oz Clear Creek Oregon Cranberry Liqueur
  • 0.75 oz Byrrh
  • 0.5 oz Scheurebe White Wine
  • 0.5 oz Organic Cranberry Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Water
  • 1 drop Salt Solution

Method:Measure 5 oz into small decanter
Glass: Burgundy glass
Garnish: Sprig of rosemary for seasoning glass, removed when poured

JackFrostIII

Jack Frost

The Idea: The lovable and tenacious Jack Frost has come in so many different forms, but one thing that unifies his many versions is the ability to make anything bone cold. We, too, wanna keep winter around just a little too long. In homage to ye ol’ Jack, we wanted to create a drink that was crisp, clean, and chilly — the feeling of exhaling on a cold day. Close your eyes, imagine waking up after snow has fallen in the yard. You strap on your boots and run out into, treading through prestine snow and laughing your ass off. Because snow is always fun, no matter how old you are.

The Recipe:

  • 0.75 oz 86 Co Tequila Cabeza
  • 0.75 oz Clear Creek Pear Brandy
  • 0.75 oz  Lime Juice
  • 0.75 oz La Quintinya Dry Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Simple
  • 1 tspn Giffard Menthe Pastille

Method: Whip, dump, fill with crushed ice
Glass: Frosted milkshake glass
Garnish: Mint/Sage Bouquet, Hand Forged Snow from the North Pole (…ok, powdered sugar)

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Giffard Menthe de Pastille has started to sneak into our recipes in almost imperceptible ways. In this recipe, it’s job is to boost up the herbs in the (intensely unique) La Quintye Vermouth. It’s minty, but more than that it creates an added herbal layer — like mint on crack. In your next mint-focused cocktail, try adding a tiny bit and see what happens. 

ProfessorHinkleII

Professor Hinkle

The Idea: Professor Hinkle may not be the most well-known scoundrel, but he’s certainly the most dapper. A magician that appears in the Frosty the Snowman cartoon — wearing a tux with tails and the world’s best moustache — his iconic top-hat with a flower inspired the aesthetic direction of this drink. We see him drinking daintily while plotting mischief, but would, we feel, imbibe a cocktail that is as decadent as it is refreshing. A man of such note must only drink from the finest vessel, a tea cup. Thanks to Alex’s mom for donating her wedding china to the bar!

The Recipe:

  • 1 oz Neisson Agricole Blanc
  • 0.5 oz Clear Creek Framboise Eau de Vie
  • 0.5 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • 0.75 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz Orgeat
  • 0.25 oz Aperol

Method: Shake, strain
Glass: Tea Cup
Garnish: Rose Geranium tincture*, edible flower

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Rose Geranium Tincture: In a similar style to other aromatic tinctures, we used the rotovap to make essentially, perfume. Combining 100 grams of Rose Geraniums with 400 grams liquid, distill in a rotovap at 45C for 1 hour.. Depending on your choice of liquid — as noted elsewhere, we use water as using alcohol is illegal in the US — you may combine the distillate with alcohol. After doing so, place in an atomizer and spray on top of the drink. The aroma will linger for the first couple of sips.  

Scrooge

Scrooge

The Idea: Inspired by wassail — traditionally a hot ale drink, spiced with juniper, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper — this drink imagines the Scrooge toiling over his books, totally missing the point of christmas. What better way to inspire some holiday cheer than a cocktail that’s packs every holiday we can image, and then tops it with beer? We’re pretty sure even Scrooge would come around after one of these.

The Recipe:

  • 0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
  • 0.5 oz Busnell Pays d’Auge VSOP Calvados
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz Giffard Apricot Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Spiced Demerara Syrup*
  • 0.5 oz Alexander Jules Amontillado Sherry
  • 2 oz Amber Ale
  • 2 oz Le Brun Cider

Method: Shake, strain
Glass: Pewter mug, cracked ice
Garnish: Smoking cinnamon stick, Wassail Tincture**

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Spiced Demerara Syrup: Prepare spices by crushing 20 grams cinnamon bark, 1 gram Penang Clove, and 2 Green Cardamom pods. In a pot, combine 1000 grams Demerara Sugar with 500 grams water, 100 grams sliced almonds, and crushed spices. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes. Be careful not to boil. Turn off heat, allow to cool, and strain off solids. Keep refrigerated between uses.

**Wassail Tincture: Using the rotovap, combine 24 whole cloves, 12 crushed juniper berries, 10 grams fresh ginger juice, 10 grams cinnamon sticks, 1 gram crushed white pepper in 250 grams of liquid. As noted elsewhere, we must use water for distilling. If you’re in a country that allows alcohol to be rectified, we’d highly suggest 250 grams of Clear Creek 2yr Apple Brandy as the base of the distillate. We wouldn’t dream of using it, though. Distil at 45C for 1 hour.

BehindBar

Intermezzos

Throughout the Holiday Scoundrels menu, we found every manner of holiday cheer to introduce in between cocktails. The donut shop across the street was a consistent stop, with bites of treats alongside sips of our ever-growing collection of brandies. 

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Sticky Bandits

The Idea: Yeah, alright, Home Alone 1 gets all the attention. But to me (Katie, that is), Home Alone 2 is where it’s at. A holiday romp through NYC reminds us of our time in that amazing city, and the counterpoint to Macaulay Culkin’s antics are the Sticky Bandits. Scoundrels, indeed! They steal scarves, mittens, anything they can get their hands on using masking tape as a glove — running around NYC causing family-friend mayhem. Since the second home alone takes place in New York, we thought it only fitting that this cocktail should be a Manhattan riff.

Remember those chocolate covered oranges you used to break apart and eat at holiday time? To make the cocktail even more seasonally appropriate, this drink is basically a mashup of a Manhattan and a chocolate covered orange.

The Recipe:

  • 1.5 Elijah 12yr
  • 0.75 La Quintinye Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.25 China China
  • 0.25 Alexander Jules Amontillado
  • 0.25 Cacao Nib Vodka*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cacao Nib-infused Cynar**
  • 1 tspn Cointreau

Method: Stir, Strain
Glass: Stemmed cocktail glass
Garnish: Orange twist, expressed and discarded

Presentation:Served on a brass tray with a white chocolate turtle dove

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Cacao Nib Vodka: Using a large iSi canister, combine 500 grams wheated vodka (Grey Goose, Absolut, Aylesbury Duck) with 50 grams cacao nibs. Seal, charge with two N20 charges. Shake, allow to sit for ten minutes. Vent gas quickly and open canister. When bubbling stops, strain out cacao nibs. Run infusion through cheesecloth. Rebottle.

**Cacao Nib-infused Cynar: In a shallow hotel pan, combine 30 grams Cacao Nibs with 1 liter bottle Cynar. Place into chamber vacuum machine. Being careful not over boil, run at near-full vacuum for two cycles. On third cycle, turn vacuum machine off while at vacuum, and allow the infusion to sit for ten minutes. Decompress and strain off solids.

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Bad Santa

The Idea: Anyone who’s ever seen this classic modern film knows that Bad Santa is man who likes his alcohol. Throughout the film, he can be seen swigging out of bottles vodka and ordering Old Granddad midday. In homage to this sad (and hilarious) man, we wanted to create a cocktail similar to an Old Fashioned, but that tasted exactly like Peppermint Bark — that Christmas snack made from candy canes and white chocolate.

The Recipe: 

  • 2 Cocoa Butter Vodka*
  • 0.25 House Creme de Cacao**
  • 1 tspn Menthe Pastille
  • 0.25 Madagascar Vanilla
  • 1 drop Salt Solution

Method: Stir, strain into flask
Glass: Fancy Rocks glass with one large cube
Garnish: Small Candy Cane

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Cocoa Butter Vodka: White chocolate is really just cocoa butter, sugar and milk. On its own, these would make for a rich drink, but we were fixated on making something clean and perfectly clear. In order to do so, we fat-washed Absolut Elyx with Cocoa Butter: using indirect heat, melt 100 grams Cocoa butter chips. Combine in a sous vide bag with 1 bottle Absolut Elyx vodka. Seal bag and cook in a ice water bath set to 145F. After 1 hour, remove and submerge in a water bath until cooled. Strain out liquid into a cambro and place covered in a freezer. After one day, remove cacao butter solids and strain through cheesecloth. Though it’s delicious in this cocktail, this infusion is amazing to have around. Keep in a freezer and take out for small nips after a meal.

**House Creme de Cacao: Using the Cacao Nib Tincture (link HERE) as the base, combine 750 grams Cacao Nib Tincture with 250 grams filtered water, 250 grams Simple Syrup, and 10 grams Giffard Vanille.

HansGruberII

Hans Gruber

The Idea: Why does Hans wanna ruin John McClane’s Christmas? Because he’s an evil jerk, that’s why! We imagined this villain as having a secret obsession with decadence. This cocktail takes recipe inspiration from how we learned to make a Dominicana cocktail: a stirred rich drink with a float of whipped cream.

The Recipe:

  • 1 Toasted Pecan Plantation 5 yr Rum*
  • 0.75 Brown Butter Apple Brandy**
  • 1 Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximenez
  • 0.25 Cane Syrup
  • 1 tspn Giffard Madagascar
  • 3 drops Salt Solution
  • Float Maple-Cream

Method: Stir, strain, layer Maple-Cream***
Glass: Stemmed cocktail glass
Garnish: Christmas Tree Stencil with Atomized reduced Black Strap Rum****

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Toasted Pecan Plantation 5 yr Rum: Lightly toast 150 grams whole pecans in an oven, just enough that they become aromatic. Chop and combine with 1 bottle Plantation 5 yr Barbados Rum in a sous vide bag. Cook in a water bath set to 145F for two hours. Remove, place in a ice water bath and cool. Strain off solids through cheesecloth.

** Brown Butter Apple Brandy: WARNING, you will want to drink this for breakfast! Melt 8 ounces quality butter (we prefer Kerry Gold Irish Butter…yum) and combine in a cambro with one 750 ml bottle Clear Creek 2yr Apple Brandy and one 750 ml bottle Clear Creek 8yr Apple Brandy. Stir to combine. Cover and place in a freezer. After one day, removed from freezer and strain off solids through cheesecloth.

***Maple Cream: In a squeeze bottle, combine 8 ounces Heavy Cream with 2 ounces Maple. Before use, shake briefly to stiffen into a lightly whipped cream. Carefully layer on top of the drink, about 2 ounces per serving.

****Reduced Black Strap Rum: In a saucepan, heat Cruzan Black Strap Rum until it’s reduced by ⅓. Cool and place into an atomizer or spray bottle. Spray on top of drink.

UncleEddy

COUSIN EDDIE

The Idea: Egg Nog is this scoundrel’s drink of choice. Well, Budweiser too…but we felt the egg nog was what what Cousin Eddie from Holiday Vacation would grab first. In order to make it our own, we took flavor inspiration from the classic, anise-laced Italian Christmas cookies. And sprinkles. Because sprinkles are always a good idea.

The Recipe:

  • 1 oz Diep 9 Aged Genever
  • 1.5 oz Lazzaroni Amaretto
  • 1 oz Almond Milk*
  • 2 tspn Cane Syrup
  • 3 drop Salt Solution
  • 1/2 Tspn Anise Tincture**
  • 1 whole egg

Method: Shake, strain
Glass: Budweiser Glass w/ Crushed ice on Doily
Garnish: Sprinkles

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Almond Milk: Combine 4 cups filtered water with 1 cup blanched raw almonds. Blend until smooth, about two minutes. Strain through cheesecloth being careful not to push through any solids. This will take a while — be patient!

**Anise Tincture: Break apart 25 grams Star Anise Pods. Using the rotovap, distill with 250 grams liquid at 60C for 1 hour.

DeanMartinIII

Dean Martin

The Idea: I know what you’re thinking: what on Earth is the beloved Dean Martin doing on a Holiday Scoundrels list? Well! We came across this cover of a Christmas album of his and weren’t sure we’d seen anything quite this creepy in…forever. Seriously, look HERE. While creeped out, we were also inspired: Dean Martin gettin’ sleezy on the slopes? Yup, he’d need to have a Martini and a drink packed with ski-slope smells: Douglas Fir, Blanc Vermouth and the essence of Après Ski in a glass. Kick off those boots, put on an ugly ass sweater, and stoke up a fire.

The Recipe:

  • 1.75 oz Tanqueray Gin
  • 0.25 oz Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
  • 0.5 oz La Quintinye Vermouth Blanc
  • 0.5 oz Boissiere Dry Vermouth
  • 1 drop Salt Solution

Method: Stir, strain
Glass: Dainty Martini glass w/ Dividends
Garnish: “Après Ski” Tincture*, Spruce/Pine sprig on brass plate

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Après Ski Tincture: Yeah yeah, we know, this is kind of annoying. But for those who know the wonderful joys of Après Ski — that lovely few hours of drinking after a hard day on the slopes — understand why we had to do it. Imagine being in a lodge with a roaring fire, burning wood filling the room with comforting smells. To mimick this feeling, we started first with cedar incense — look for the kind that’s made from cedar and nothing else. Strip off from the stick. Combine 20 grams of cedar incense, 5 grams Cinnamon bark and 250 grams liquid in a distilling flask. Using the rotovap, distill at 60C for one hour.

HeatSnowIV

Heat Miser & Snow Miser

The Idea: A bit more esoteric than our other inspirations, in researching the holidays we continued to stumble across the Heat & Snow Misers. In a dueling battle for holiday cheer, the Heat Miser wants nothing more than to melt snow; the Snow Miser to chill the holiday season into a winter wonderland. We became transfixed with the chance to create a plated cocktail that was both — hot and cold. Here we have a drink that pays homage to evil Heat Miser with a spicy toddy, and an ice cream made from Apple Ice Wine.

The Recipe:

  • 1 oz Thai Chili Elijah Craig 12yr*
  • 0.5 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano
  • 0.5 oz AJ Amontillado
  • 3 oz Fuji Apple Juice
  • 0.5 oz Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 tspn Verjus
  • 1 drop salt

Method: Heat cocktail in a sauce pan — do not allow to boil
Glass: Toddy Glass
Garnish: Clove Studded Lemon Twist

Presentation: Wooden Platter, w/ Apple Ice Wine Ice Cream** & Demitasse Spoon

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Thai Chili Bourbon: Using gloves, clean 10 fresh thai chilis and cut down the middle. Scrape seeds out and discard. In a cambro, combine chilies with one 750ml bottle Elijah Craig Bourbon. Chilies vary in intensity, so you’ll need to taste the infusion every 2, 3, 4, and 5 minutes. The final infusion should have just a bite of heat, but not burn your mouth. As soon as it’s ready, be prepared to strain off.

**Apple Ice Wine Ice Cream

  • 6 organic eggs
  • 3/4 cup white cane sugar
  • 1/2 tspn kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1.5 oz Clear Creek 2yr Apple Brandy
  • 4 oz Apple Ice Wine
  • 1 tspn mexican vanilla extract

Method:

  • Combine eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until fluffy.
  • Heat heavy cream and whole milk until warm. Slowly to the large mixing bowl with egg/sugar mixture. Continuously whisking.
  • Once combined, put back on medium-low heat, constantly stirring. When the spoon is pulled out and a clean swipe can be made across the back with your finger without filling in, the custard is done.
  • Pour into a cambro with the brandy, ice wine and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Churn in an ice cream maker and then freeze.

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