Words: Maggie Casey
Photos: Monica Tindall
There is something special about Christmas in the tropics. As a Canadian expat, there always seems to be a part of me that longs for a winter wonderland Christmas but celebrating in Malaysia soon shoos that idea away as here they do the festive season right!
Every year I look forward to the extravagant decorations across the city, and of course, the plethora of holiday food and drinks to help get into the spirit of things. For those looking to enjoy a tropical rendition of Christmas, Troika Sky Dining has you covered with their 12 Days of Christmas Cocktail promotion. Twelve different hand-crafted cocktails, all themed around the comforts and essence of the holidays, is something to be celebrated in its own right.
We arrived at Troika Sky Dining in the late afternoon as the sun was casting a golden glow over the picturesque bar. We were seated at Coppersmith bar, nestled beside a golden Christmas tree watching the sunset on the iconic towers: my mind could not have been farther from my notion of a winter wonderland and yet the magic of the season seemed to fill the air.
12 Cocktails of Christmas – Capturing the Essence of the Festive Season
The 12 Cocktails of Christmas is a labour of love, beverage manager Matt Joseph explains to us. Each cocktail is handmade to represent a different element of Christmas, with many of the drinks going through several makeovers to get them just right. As someone who is wary of drinks that are too sweet (black coffee anyone?) I was a little hesitant as Chrissy themed drinks are often overly saccharine. Yet, each of the cocktails (which contained syrups that were made in-house), were tweaked to the point of perfection. Thus, each drink captures the flavours without the sugar, making for superb drinks that you could sip away all afternoon long.
Grouped into three groups of four, each set of cocktails is available for four days before another collection takes its place. On December 25, however, you really can feel as though all of your Christmases have come at once as all 12 will be served. Each cocktail is priced at RM32, which is a great deal considering they all contain a minimum 45 ml alcohol.
12 Cocktails of Christmas – Days 1 to 4 (Dec 13 – 16)
Agave in a Pear Tree was the perfect start to the tasting as the combination of tequila, spiced pear syrup, agave and sliced pear garnish made for a wonderfully refreshing, gentle cocktail. The fruit adds texture and substance to a drink that goes down all too quickly.
All Day Eggnog was exactly as its name suggests; an eggnog tasting drink that manages to be light enough that you could definitely have a couple without feeling ill. The decision to use half and half milk, combined perfectly with the dark rum, cinnamon and nutmeg were key in making this a lighter version of the typically heavy Christmas classic.
The Night Before represents the childhood glee and excitement of awaiting Santa’s arrival. This decadently sweet, chocolate caramel drink comes with salty popcorn on top. Don’t be fooled though as the potent base of rum is somewhat disguised by the chocolate milk.
In contrast, Christmas Morning is the adult companion; a boozy coffee infused vodka-based drink with a double punch of coconut rum and a hint of Christmas spices thanks to the handmade syrups. This one makes for a very merry start to the day for sure!
12 Cocktails of Christmas – Days 5 – 8 (Dec 17 – 20)
I was delighted to next see a vibrant pink drink on its way! As much as I don’t have a huge sweet tooth I do have a soft spot for a candy cane so I was tickled pink (literally this drink was the prettiest colour) to see the mini candy cane garnish of Day 5’s drink Merry Hendricks. A combination of Hendricks Gin, raspberry syrup, Cassis, and lemon, this drink is tangy and oh so flavorful. The egg white gives the drink a nice foamy finish, without being overpowering. A splendidly merry drink.
Day 6 brought us Comet’s Cooler, or as Monica called it, a “the sun-chair sipper.” She is right, the asam boi infused tequila, Cointreau and calamansi make this drink feel like a nod to all of us who have become accustomed to Christmas on the beach. It’s salty and sour with a definite kick of tequila. I can almost feel an ocean breeze.
In keeping with the tropical theme, Bad Santa is a cool rendition of mulled wine. To keep it chilled, they took all the aspects of mulled wine choosing light reds such as pinot noir and instead of heating it, let the ingredients infuse in the fridge. The cheeky shot of whiskey gives this drink a charge while the orange and cloves keeping it festive and easy drinking.
The Naughty List turned out to be my personal favourite (not just because of the name, I promise I have been good!). The egg white gives the pineapple rum a foamy top and instead of using sugar, a fruit syrup including strawberries, raspberries, and watermelon was used. You can taste the difference; this drink is fresh, tangy, and not too sweet.
12 Cocktails of Christmas – Days 9 – 12 (Dec 21 – 24)
By cocktail number nine we were starting to feel a little peckish, lucky for us Milk and Cookies lived up to its name and this gingerbread vodka drink came with two Oreos! A childhood classic with an adult twist.
Potterheads (Harry Potter fans) of KL will be happy to know that Day 10 is Butter Beer. Made with a buttered dark rum, gula Melaka, egg and a light IPA, I was curious to sample this one. Not surprisingly, it was delicious! The hint of carbonation from the beer works well and the drink is rounded out with a creamy rum that dominates the flavour profile. Creamy, spiced and original!
Day 11 felt like a homage to my grandma as after every Christmas dinner she offers everyone an After 8, which also happens to be the name of our penultimate drink. Minty, with just a hint of lemon this white chocolate drink with a Mezcal base, is definitely a comfort drink.
Finally, the cocktail extravaganza finished with Santa’s Sangria. This tropical sangria complete with gin, coconut rum, red wine, pineapple honey and lemon is the perfect finale to an extended holiday drink list.
For those looking to celebrate with guests from out of town or friends in the city, Troika Sky Dining’s 12 Cocktails of Christmas is a must. The setting is beautiful, the drinks are spectacular and the vibe is oh so festive!
But wait, there’s more! The Yum List and bartender Matt Joseph have a challenge for you. If you can manage to drink and capture all 12 cocktails between December 13 and 24 and prove it by posting on Instagram tagging @theyumlist, @mattmanv3 and @troikaskydining, Matt will reward you with a complimentary bottle of Champers!
Reasons to take on the 12 Cocktails of Christmas challenge: Extensive list of beautiful and delicious handmade cocktails, something for every drinker on the menu, good price point for high-quality of cocktails, bragging rights if you meet the challenge, and it is a whole load of fun!