It’s Christmas Eve and last-minute shoppers are scurrying about on the hunt for that last perfect gift. For those ready to take a break from the frantic shopping frenzy, The Laundry in Fenton is a welcoming spot to enjoy a little Christmas cheer.
The Laundry’s atmosphere is very warm and cozy. Christmas lights flicker softly, and the “Leg Lamp” from A Christmas Story sits on top of the bar – a comforting reminder of Christmases past. It so happens that The Laundry was bestowed with My City Magazine’s City’s Choice Award for Best Classic/Artisan Cocktails. So, MCM sat down with Head Barman, Jon Foley, to chat about what’s on the cocktail menu, and the specialty drinks patrons can look forward to for the holiday season.
Jon is proud that The Laundry has over 100 whiskeys on its shelves. They serve 100 varieties of cocktails throughout the year, and the staff is continuously coming up with new ideas to try. He explains that the cocktails they serve are reflective of cocktail history in general, and are made as closely as possible to the way they were first made 150 years ago. When making the perfect cocktail, there are a few steps to consider – using products of the highest quality, knowledge of how to make the drink, and having the proper glassware in which to serve it. And, according to Jon, technique is the most important thing. Jon has been making cocktails for The Laundry since 2004 and has been the head barman since 2006. He keeps up on industry trends, which allows the bar to be progressive, and a team of six bartenders helps to make that happen.
The classic cocktail most popular amongst patrons and staff alike is the Old Fashioned, which was first made in 1806 and is defined as “a potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water and sugar.” “The Old Fashioned is the quintessential cocktail,” says Jon. “It is pure simplicity and perfection.” He describes The Laundry’s Old Fashioned as “rich and potent” and it is made using only the finest Kentucky bourbon or rye whiskey. He starts by putting a turbinado sugar cube soaked in aromatic bitters in a glass. He muddles the mixture and then stirs in the bourbon. A very large ice cube is placed in the glass. The drink is then stirred and topped with a sugar-rubbed slice of fresh orange.
In December, The Laundry patrons enjoy some holiday specialty drinks such as Hot Buttered Rum and the Bad Santa – a unique concoction of bourbon, Becherovka liqueur, house-made cranberry syrup, hibiscus syrup, bitters and fresh lime juice. The concoction is shaken with ice, then poured into a glass and topped with a sprig of rosemary. The Hot Buttered Rum is made with high-quality rum, butter, sugar and nutmeg. Served in an elegant glass coffee mug, this hot, comforting drink warms you up on a cold, winter day.
And on Christmas Eve only, The Laundry’s customers are in for a real treat – a handcrafted Tom and Jerry. This traditional Christmastime cocktail was devised by British journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s. It’s served on only one day a year at The Laundry because, “it’s a bloody lot of work,” Jon laughs. For the rich batter, egg whites are beaten until frothy, and the yolks are mixed with sugar, dark rum and cognac. The two mixtures are then beaten together, and some of the batter is poured into individual glasses. Steamed milk is added to the batter and then the creation is topped with freshly grated nutmeg. “It’s like drinking a Christmas cookie,” says Jon. “People come back every year on Christmas Eve just for a Tom and Jerry.” You’d better hurry though, because when the batter runs out, the drink is gone until next year!
The holidays at The Laundry end with a bang with their annual New Year’s Eve party, which is very popular, explains the barman. No reservations are taken; people come and go throughout the evening to enjoy live jazz music and a champagne toast. “It’s a huge deal,” says Jon. “I love our restaurant all year-round – but I especially love it at Christmas. It’s warm, cozy, festive, and a great place to celebrate the holidays!”
Jon was kind enough to share these festive cocktail recipes! ♦
• 1 turbinado sugar cube
• 3 dashes Angostura bitters
• 2 1/2 oz. bourbon or rye (Jon uses Buffalo Trace)
• 1 large 2”x2” ice cube
• 1 orange zest
Muddle sugar and bitters in the base of a rocks glass. Add whiskey; stir to help integrate sugar. Add ice cube and stir for 20 seconds or so to slightly dilute. Zest orange peel over the drink and add to the glass.
• 2 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
• 1/2 oz. Becherovka
• 1/2 oz. cranberry simple syrup
• 1/2 oz. hibiscus simple syrup
• 3/4 oz. lime juice
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake well with ice and transfer to a rocks glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
• 2 turbinado sugar cubes
• 1 generous bar spoon of unsalted butter
• 2 oz. Zaya 12-year-old rum
• Hot water
• Grated nutmeg
Use a small amount of hot water to dissolve sugar. Add more water and whisk in butter. Add rum and stir. Pour into pre-heated Toddy glass and top with water if needed to fill glass. Grate nutmeg on top.
• 2 oz. Tom and Jerry batter (see below)
• 2 oz. cognac or dark rum
• Top with steamed milk
• Grated nutmeg
Add batter to Toddy glass. Stir in cognac/rum. Add steamed milk and stir again. Grate nutmeg over top.
• 1 dozen eggs, separated
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tsp clove
• 1 tsp allspice
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 4-6 oz. Navy Proof Rum (Jon likes Smith & Cross)
Beat egg whites until frothy. Mix remaining ingredients together; add to egg white mixture.
Photography by Mike Naddeo