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Adding a touch of Newfoundland and Labrador nostalgia to Christmas cocktails

Shown here is the Jam Jam Martini.
Shown here is the Jam Jam Martini. - Contributed

There are many things Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are known for, such as our humour, kind spirit, hard-working nature and, of course, our love of food and drink, especially when sharing those with family and friends.  

This love of gathering over delicious dishes is particularly evident during the holidays, when kitchens fill with smiling faces, drinks are poured and plates are piled high.  

Blueberry beverage 

Blueberry grunt, a popular East Coast dessert, has numerous names and variations, but simply put is a dessert made using cooked blueberries and a steamed pudding or dumpling. This dish is believed to be a version of an English steamed pudding and the term “grunt” was believed to be given to the sound the dumplings make when they are steamed.  

“I had this idea to recreate a traditional Newfoundland staple, which I recall having often as a child. Some places refer to it as a blueberry grunt, while others call it a blueberry buckle,” says Sheldon O’Neill. A St. John’s native, O’Neill has been creating cocktails and designing and consulting on bar menus in the city for decades. Now, he owns and operates St. John’s Charcuterie, a booming custom charcuterie board business, but he still loves creating cocktails with local ingredients.  

“This is a playful take on the blueberry buckle and to relate the obvious presence of alcohol in the cocktail, I named this The Buckled Blueberry. It’s a fun, drinkable blueberry grunt [or blueberry buckle], depending on where you’re from,” O’Neill says.  

The Buckled Blueberry  

For rim: 

Purity blueberry jam 

Recipes, traditions and more in our Holidays section
Recipes, traditions and more in our Holidays section

Graham cracker crumbs 

Directions:  

Dip the rim of a coupe glass into blueberry jam and then into the graham cracker crumbs. Be sure to get an even line around the lip of the glass.  

For base: 

Iceberg Vodka (2 oz) 

Pure, concentrated blueberry juice (1 oz) 

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (2/3 oz) 

Fresh blueberries (2 oz) 

Simple syrup (1/2 oz) 

Directions:  

In an empty Boston shaker tin, muddle the fresh blueberries. Add the remaining ingredients. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the rimmed coupe glass.  

For float: 

Fussell’s Thick Cream (2 oz) 

Simple syrup (1/2 oz) 

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/3 oz) 

Lemon zest 

Cinnamon sugar (half sugar, half cinnamon) 

Directions:  

Whisk all ingredients until the cream is airy enough to float on top of the liquid base (can use an electric mixer) and float the cream on top of your prepared cocktail. Lightly sprinkle the cream with cinnamon sugar (half sugar, half cinnamon). Gently torch the top of the cream float (if desired). Garnish with a skewer of fresh blueberries. 

From cookie to cocktail 

Purity Jam Jams are a beloved Newfoundland and Labrador treat, often shared with friends over a cup of tea (and often dipped into said tea). They remind many people of a visit to their nan and pop’s home or a care package received while living away.  

O’Neill was tasked with creating a cocktail for the St. John’s Fish Exchange, in response to a request for a sweeter-style addition to their cocktail list.  

“As Jam Jams are another staple of Newfoundland and Labrador pantries, I thought this would be a great addition for those with a bit of a sweet tooth,” O’Neill says. “Following the trend of all of the signature cocktails for the Fish Exchange, this one features several Newfoundland products, as the recipe demonstrates. The Jam Jam Martini makes use of Newfoundland’s famous Screech dark rum, Crosby’s molasses and Purity raspberry syrup. The finished product is a drinkable Jam Jam, with the iconic cookie perched atop the glass. Enjoy!” 

Jam Jam Martini 

For rim:  

Crosby’s molasses 

Graham cracker crumbs  

Directions:  

Dip the rim of a martini glass into the molasses and then into the graham cracker crumbs. Be sure to get an even line around the lip of the glass.  

For base: 

Screech dark rum (1.5 oz) 

Purity raspberry syrup (1 oz) 

Apple juice (1/2 oz) 

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/2 oz) 

Directions:  

Add all ingredients to a Boston shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a Purity Jam Jams cookie. 

This content originally appeared in YULETIDE PREPARATIONS, a SaltWire custom publishing title. 

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