Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pomegranates Make Easter Cocktailing a Joy: PAMA Nog

This light and fruity nog, made with three pomegranate expressions, will make your Easter celebrations an affair to remember. And because of its low-alcohol content, you can have two (or three).

Pomegranates ten years ago were exotic to most Westerners, especially to us East Coasters. Sure, we’d seen those burnished red orbs piled up in a produce-section crate at the grocery store, their crown-shaped nipples beckoning us to get a little closer, but by sheer ignorance we shuttered our eyes to their beauty. We just didn’t know what to do with them except make a mess with the arils, those pip-like seeds coated with the sweet juice that gives the pomegranate its distinct enchanting flavor.

The arils, pips, or seeds of the pomegranate (call them what you will) are the paragons of contrast: sweet and soft on the outside, hard and slightly bitter on the inside. Nibbling them can become an addiction.

Mythologically, the pomegranate, which originated in Iran, has bewitched many a soul, the most famous being Persephone, the Goddess of the Underworld in Greek tales. Poor Persephone. Abducted by Hades, god of the Underworld, she was forced to take a seat by his throne whilst he lorded over the dead. Her mom, Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, was thrown into a deep depression, so deep, as a result, winter enveloped all with its bitter chill. All vegetation shriveled up, and nothing new grew. Well, this didn’t sit well with Zeus, king of the Gods, so he ordered Hades to return Persephone to terra firma so that the shrubs and trees and flowers could once again bloom. But Hades, being devilish and cunning, tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranate seeds, so that she would be forced to stay—you see, the Fates had decreed that anyone who imbibed anything while they were roaming the dark and gloomy caverns of the Underworld were doomed to live eternity there. Six seeds were hardly enough to merit eternal damnation, so it was decided that six months a year would suffice. And during those six months, Demeter’s mourning chills the Earth, forcing the greenery into early retirement.

How dreary. And you thought pomegranates were life-affirming because of all the hullabaloo about its antioxidant properties.

But after six months of bitterness and cold, hope springs eternal. Yes, spring, the season of renewal and life, returns with the release of Persephone from Hades’s corpsy clutches. And what better symbol to promote this renewal than the egg. Going way back in Teutonic Mythology, the egg symbolized, you guessed it, renewal. Ēostre, the Goddess of spring, represented by the egg and the rabbit (yes, the bunny represents fecundity, so we get the Easter Bunny from her too), lent her name to the holiday. So eggs and Easter somehow become intertwined forever, as lovers united in a common vision of resurrection. Easter + eggs. The two words fit so well together, we can’t imagine an Easter without them. And after a gloomy winter, the more decorated these eggs are, the better.

Which brings us to the drink. We’ll call it PAMA Nog (we get nothing promoting the brand, it just sounds good). Look at the photo: It’s like a wee present, dappled in little jeweled seeds, life’s beginnings. These little ruby eggs of sweet and bitter, floating atop a cloud of pomegranate–blueberry juice laced with a hearty dose of PAMA pomegranate-flavored liqueur, when we bite into you and take a sip of your smooth and creamy essence, we become one with all mythologies that hand down their circle-of-life fables to the generations; we are cradled by their stories. (It’s that good.)

So what we’re trying to say is Steve’s drink, PAMA Nog, is a celebration of this life-cycle, and what better holiday than Easter to fete the renewal of life. In Christian mythology, Jesus rises from the dead after a nasty run-in with the Roman authorities, and it is on Easter that Christians commemorate this event — much like the Ancient Greeks would pay homage to Persephone, and the Northern Europeans would honor Ēostre — in song, dance, parades, dramas, and special holidays.

We just chose to add some liquor to our medium. But you will find the whole egg in there — yolk and white separated at first, then reunited in bibulous bliss. Mmm. Happy Lip-Smacking Easter.

(created by Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz)

Serves 2.

2 ounces PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 egg, divided (yolk and white separated)
5 teaspoons sugar, divided (4/1)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup pomegranate–blueberry juice (or just pomegranate juice)
nutmeg, freshly ground
pomegranate seeds, as garnish

In a bowl, beat the egg yolk and 4 teaspoons of sugar with a mixer until it lightens in color and sugar is dissolved. Add PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, milk, pomegranate-blueberry juice, and stir to combine.

Place the egg white and the 1 additional teaspoon of sugar in a bowl and beat with mixer until soft peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill. Whisk before serving. Divide between two glasses and garnish with pomegranate seeds and freshly ground nutmeg. Enjoy.

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