Holiday Cocktails: Sugar Rum Cherry Nos. 1 & 2

In December 2021, during the first Holiday Pops after a COVID-induced hiatus, the Pops brought out the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn version of the “Nutcracker Suite.” In addition to brilliant jazz orchestration, the work also retitled all the movements—so “Dance of the Reed Pipes” becomes “Toot Toot Tootie-Toot,” “Arabian Dance” becomes “Arabesque Cookie,” and “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” becomes “Sugar Rum Cherry.”

Our director suggested from the podium that “Sugar Rum Cherry” sounded like it should be a cocktail, and basically dared me to create that cocktail. So I created not one, but two variations on a theme.

The first (Sugar Rum Cherry No. 1) is boozy and fruity, with a hint of smoke and other flavors rounding out the flavor profile (and, as a chorus colleague said last night, answers the question “What else can you make with cherry Heering besides a Blood and Sand?”). It also uses the lovely smoke and salt bitters (uneuphoniously named “Pooter”!) from Raleigh-based Crude.

The second (Sugar Rum Cherry No. 2) takes loose inspiration from Corpse Reviver No. 2, and pairs Demerara rum with Lillet Blanc and some Maraschino liqueur to provide the “cherry” part.

As always, recipe images can be used with the Highball app.

Suggestion: try one (or both) out while listening to Ellington and Strayhorn swing the Nutcracker. And Merry Christmas!