The Feats of Strength cocktail is a clear choice for Festivus, our next important holiday season celebration on December 23. Here at The Drunkard’s Almanac we’re fond of made-up holidays. After all, we covered the Bumbo for National Talk Like a Pirate Day, and Festivus falls conveniently between Hanukkah and Christmas. So today we need a Festivus cocktail.
The Origin of Festivus
Festivus made its first public appearance on the Seinfeld episode “The Strike” in December, 1997. It was by George’s father, Frank Costanza, after an unfortunate toy-aisle scuffle over a doll when George was a kid. As he explains to Kramer inside H&H Bagels, “a new holiday was born – a Festivus for the rest of us!”
Celebrated on December 23, Festivus offers something for those seeking to eschew the commercialism and materialism of other holiday celebrations. The usual holiday tradition of a tree is replaced by a plain aluminum pole. As Mr. Costanza says, “it requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting.”
The New York Times reported on Festivus in 2004. While Seinfeld provided the public introduction, the actual inventor of Festivus is a gentleman named Dan O’Keefe. His son Daniel was a writer on Seinfeld and appropriated the family holiday for the episode. Apparently stunned to hear that the holiday, which he came up with in 1966, was popular, the elder Mr. O’Keefe wondered “Have we created a cult?” Maybe so.
According to the younger Mr. O’Keefe, “It was entirely more peculiar than on the show.” Apparently the pole did not exist early on, but there were airing of grievances into a tape recorder and wrestling matches between brothers. There was also a clock in a bag, thought the younger O’Keefe does not know what it symbolized. We leave that to the reader’s imagination.
A compendium of clips explaining the holiday are viewable here but beyond a plain aluminum pole the two key rituals are:
- The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances. “I got a lot of problems with you people! Now, you’re going to hear about it.”
- Feats of Strength. After the Airing of Grievances the head of the household wrestles opponents until pinned.
Feats of Strength Cocktail
Finding a Festivus cocktail that meets our standards turned out to be difficult. Bars have pulled off stunts like hanging from a pull-up bar for two minutes qualifies as a feat of strength and earns you a free shot. Others have come up with odd recipes like citrus vodka, cranberry juice and gingerbread liqueur garnished with a fluorescent red cherry.
Our Editorial Board rejected these options. Further, we discussed drink themes and concluded that a cocktail named Feats of Strength would be more approachable than Airing of Grievances. So we turned to a professional to ask for a Festivus cocktail.
Chris Day is a Los Angeles native who back in the early 2010’s traded time between studying for his PhD in chemistry at UCLA with another passion of his: bartending. Eventually Chris wound up leaving his dissertation to fully pursue a career in hospitality, which has found him behind the stick or managing at some of the most well-touted and diverse cocktail programs Los Angeles has had, including Redbird, Cole’s Red Car Bar, General Lee’s Cocktail House, and Honeycut. He’s qualified.
Enter the Feats of Strength cocktail. As Mr. Day describes, it’s “a delicious, warming bauble that also offers a solid kick in the pants for anyone enjoying their favorite secular celebration.”
It’s really a variation on Hot Buttered Rum, with a bit more oomph. After all, who doesn’t like butter and spices? And overproof rum.
The Feats of Strength is a favorite butter batter recipe (adding green cardamom for a bit more earthiness) with TWO aged rums, one of which being 151. A delicious, warming bauble that also offers a solid kick in the pants for anyone enjoying their favorite secular celebration.
Feats of Strength
- 1½ oz Rum Ron Barrilito 3 Star or other aged rum.
- ½ oz 151 Rum Lemonhart or Ed Hamilton 151
- 1 tbsp Butter batter (see below)
- Garnish: grated nutmeg
- To make butter batter: Mix together 16 oz of golden brown sugar, 8 ounces of unsalted butter, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and 1/2 ground cloves to make thick paste.
- Add 1 large tablespoon of batter to mug.
- Add rums to mug and top with hot water
- Quickly stir.
- Garnish with nutmeg.
- Rinse and repeat.