I offer a simple premise: the holidays are a heavy time filled with chances to fail, or feel lonely, overwhelmed, or inadequate. When we strive for perfection, we can only lose. After barely making it through Halloween – going through all the motions of making costumes, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating – hoping all the while the girls didn’t notice our hearts weren’t in it, Brian and I realized we need to be vigilant for the upcoming holidays. Starting now, we’re protecting ourselves from anything but the most pressing obligations, the pressure of excess, and all the other things that take us away from the actual moments spent with those we love. You should too.
Just noting your favorite moments in the season is a good place to start. Here’s my list: I like to stand outside and look at the stars on the night of Christmas and hum “Silent Night.” I like to take a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. I like to belt out “Auld Lang Syne” at least a couple times on New Year’s. These small moments deserve our attention and are far more important than a perfect pie or a clever gift.
In the spirit of lightness, I present these persimmon Collins cocktails. Bright in flavor and easy on the booze, they’re celebratory and simple.
- For the persimmon syrup
- 2 small persimmons, tops removed and chopped (1 cup)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 2-inch strips lemon zest plus 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 whole star anise
- For the persimmon Collins cocktails
- 3 ounces vodka
- 3 ounces persimmon syrup
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- persimmon and lemon slices for garnish
- star anise for garnish
- To make the persimmon syrup, combine persimmons, sugar, water, lemon zest and juice, and star anise in a small non-reactive saucepan set over medium heat. When mixture boils, edge heat down to a gentle simmer and steep for 20 minutes. Remove zest and star anise (star anise can be rinsed and reserved for cocktail garnish), puree, and funnel into a container with a lid. Chill. Syrup will keep for 1 week sealed in the fridge. Makes about 1 1/2 cups syrup.
- To make persimmon Collins cocktails, fill a cocktail shaker and two Old-Fashioned glasses (or Collins glasses if you're a stickler) with ice. Measure vodka, syrup, and lemon juice into shaker. Seal, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into glasses, top off with seltzer; garnish with persimmon and lemon slices and a star anise.