As we learned from The Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home. But while many of my expat friends travel home this time of year, a fair amount of us don’t. For those who aren’t living where we grew up, the holidays can be difficult. It seems that over the years I’ve forgotten or postponed many of the traditions that accentuate the meaning of being together for the holiday season. When my son was born last year, I started thinking about the seemingly small things that my family back home incorporates into their celebrations and started to implement these traditions here. Many of these dutiful deeds include drink.

Bringin’ It Back Home
My dad is known for his Christmas-time eggnog. Our good friend Ron is just as well-known for his New Year’s blended Gin Fizz. These treats have become iconic to my sense of what makes the holidays real. It was almost a decade after living abroad that I decided to make Dad’s eggnog. Despite the fact that it was 38 degrees outside, no one seemed to mind! Out-of-whack environmental cues aside, it was wonderful to share this traditional drink with my family and friends here, and we’ll be whizzing up some of Ron’s Gin Fizzes come January 1st!

Hijack Someone Else’s Holiday ‘Cheers!’
Are you feeling left out because you can’t think of any unique potent potables from your Christmases past? Never mind! There are plenty of worthy bevvies already out there! I recently unearthed this doozy: the Coquito. This Puerto Rican specialty (Puerto Rican friends: where have you been hiding this all these years?) seems right in tune with the weather and ingredients we have here in southern Vietnam. They blend up spiced rum (locally, Captain Morgan’s is available – or refer to last month’s column about infusions and concoct your own!), coconut milk, ginger, ground nuts and those Christmas-y kind of spices – like nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves – served over ice. Lots of cultures have their own holiday specialties, like mulled wine, glögg or Wassail. There are myriad possibilities!

Better to Give
Like the old saying goes, ‘It’s better to give than to receive.’ This adage holds true no matter what date is on the calendar when it comes to a good drink. If you have a special seasonal tipple to share or want to borrow someone else’s, it’s all good! Shaken, stirred, blended or muddled, it’s up to you. Follow the old, or bring in the new – the most important part of the season is sharing. Cheers!

Michael Kloster is a locally-based hospitality consultant with over 20 years food and beverage experience. He can be reached at luckydogvn@gmail.com.