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Cowboy Star Has the Ultimate Holiday Drink Experience

Sip a Scandinavian classic gone wrong out of a gnome head


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Cowboy Star's "Gnome on the Range"

Christmas songs make no sense in San Diego. Baby, it’s not cold outside. Maybe you have a circulation problem. It’s 63 degrees, just like it’s been for the last 250 years. We import our snowmen. They last about an hour and sweat a lot.

We’re jealous of you all in Northern California and Colorado who get Christmas snow. We want to steal your snow like we steal your water. We want to wear scarves, and we do. But it’s like that shirtless guy at a December football game in Buffalo. High fashion, low smarts.

Another thing we miss out on is warm winter drinks. Yes, let’s sit on the patio and get a sunburn while we drink hot toddies. For a nightcap, we’ll set ourselves on fire.

Luckily, the excellent drinksman Garth Flood at  Cowboy Star in Downtown San Diego has a solution. He’s taken a classic winter drink and perfectly ruined it.

Glogg is a Scandinavian tradition, just like seasonal affective disorder and military indifference. It’s a warm, mulled wine that you drink during the holidays—typically made with Aquavit, which is glorified toenail polish that helps Swedes deal with their life decision not to move their loved ones south. Traditionally it has raisins and nuts and other trail mix.

But glogg can also be made with vodka or brandy. Flood uses Elyx Vodka (Absolut’s fancypants vodka, made in a copper still like the olden days) for his “Gnome on the Range.” Like Kelly Davis wrote in her “SD Sips” column, it has spiced mulled wine with three different kinds of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, orange zest, and lemon zest. Then he adds fresh-pressed apple juice, apple cider syrup, and bitters.

But it’s how he serves it that makes the difference. First, it’s served on the rocks with shaved ice in a copper gnome.

Yes, a copper gnome. If asked the ultimate things to do over the holidays, most people would say “family” blah blah “annual trip to Bath & Body Works” blah blah “Santa’s unhygienic lap” blah. Those are fine if you want to live life in the middle. But if you want to live on the edge, “sipping a cold cocktail out of a gnome head” is the ultimate thing to do during San Diego’s holiday season.

I asked Flood why he would throw a middle finger to Scandinavian tradition and serve cold glogg.

“Because it’s San Diego and we wanted to use the gnome,” he said.

Good enough. I’ll take seven dwarves.

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