A Hollow Tree Happy Hour

As channeled to Henry and Betsy Cordes by Albert Bigelow Paine

One night, in the House of Many Windows, when the Little Ladies were all snug in their beds, their mother came into the drawing room to sit by the fire with the Storyteller.

“I wonder,” she mused aloud, “whether the folks at the Hollow Tree Inn ever have a little night cap?”

“Well,” said the Storyteller, “I’m fairly certain they must. Have I ever told you the story about Mr. Dog introducing them to the fine art of cocktail mixology?”

“Why no,” she chuckled, “I don’t believe you have. It sounds delightful. Why don’t I pour us both a sip of brandy and we can sit here together for a spell while you tell it to me?”

The Storyteller nodded his ascent, and in a moment his Mrs. was back with two judiciously-sized glasses of golden-brown liquor. They paused together to sip and savor before the Storyteller cleared his throat and began.

Well… The Hollow Tree folks were all sitting around the fire one dark December evening, with not much to do. They had each told their best stories three or four times, and even some of the not-so-good ones once or twice, so that they were all pretty tired of each other’s company. And yet there wasn’t any activity outside either, and it was dreadfully cold besides.

Mr. Possum was all stretched out latitudinally on the sofa, and the Old Black Crow was settled into a nice deep rhythm in his rocking chair. Mr. ‘Coon kept pacing back and forth, and peering out the windows into the darkness. And each of them was secretly wishing he were more tired, so that he could just fall asleep, so bored and restless were all three.

Well by and by Mr. ‘Coon noticed something out there in the blackness. It was a tiny little light, flashing on and off as it passed among the trees, getting brighter all the time.

“Look there!” said Mr. ‘Coon. “I think someone’s coming our way!”

“Really?” said Mr. ‘Possum with a hint of trepidation, as he lifted his head to peer over the back of the sofa.

“Mmbrghrrmm,” grumbled the Old Black Crow, as he rousted himself creakily from his chair.

The light came closer and closer, and soon enough revealed itself to be a lantern, swinging back and forth in the paw of some large creature.

Mr. ‘Coon hastily pulled the door’s latchstring inside, and swung the window out on its hinges, calling warily into the darkness, “Who goes there?” But when the visitor cried out, “It’s me!” they all recognized his voice at once.

“Why, that’s Mr. Dog!” said Mr. ‘Possum, spilling himself off the sofa and upright.

In their excitement they all three ran for the door, which they had a bit of difficulty opening, being a good deal tangled up. But open it they did, and fairly yanked Mr. Dog in out of the cold.

Mr. Crow, ever the gentleman, took Mr. Dog’s coat, and Mr. ‘Coon brought him some house slippers to keep his paws warm. It was just that moment that Mr. Possum noticed Mr. Dog’s enormous knapsack.

“What have you got in there?” he said, pointing to it.

As Mr. Dog swung the bag from his back, it emitted a very musical chorus of clinks, and when he flipped open the top he revealed a robust complement of unusually-shaped glass bottles, each filled with a mysterious liquid of its own peculiar hue.

“I got the idea last Friday night,” said Mr. Dog. “I spied Mr. Man and his friends having what they called a ‘happy hour,’ and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. The very first minute I had a chance, I borrowed these things from the cabinet and set out for the Hollow Tree.”

So they commenced to laugh and hurrah, they were so thrilled to have this new entertainment to look forward to. And I wish I could tell you all that happened that evening, but I can’t, because this brandy is making me very sleepy. But before I nod off, I’ll share the recipes of the ‘Coon, the ‘Possum, the Old Black Crow—and, of course, Mr. Dog’s, too—so you might try your own Hollow Tree Happy Hour sometime this December.

Mr. ‘Coon’s “Eggnog Grog”

3 oz. coconut milk
One egg yolk
1 oz. dark rum
1 tbsp. simple syrup, or to taste

Nutmeg (whole clove, for grating)
Cinnamon stick

Pour the coconut milk, egg yolk, dark rum and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker along with a good deal of ice. Rattle the shaker about vigorously, for as long as you can stand it. Strain the contents into a Nick & Nora glass (or a duck egg cup, which is what Mr. ‘Coon prefers). Use a very fine-toothed grater to sprinkle freshly-ground nutmeg generously over the top, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Mr. Possum’s “Dark Delight”

2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. elderflower liqueur
Generous handful of ripe blackberries

Fresh mint

Reserve one especially plump and luscious blackberry for garnish, and muddle the rest at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the gin and elderflower liqueur and shake until your paws are frozen, nearly to the bone. Strain into your finest china cup and saucer and garnish with a sprig of mint.

The Old Black Crow’s “Devilish Green Sour”

1.5 oz. Pernod

1.5 oz. gin
0.5 oz. Velvet Falernum
0.5 oz. lime juice
1 egg white

1 stick black licorice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake (no ice) for two minutes, to blend and allow the egg white to develop a lovely foam. Add ice, and shake until your wing feathers are tinged with frost. Strain into a martini glass (or a festive parfait cup, which is what Mr. Crow’s favors for this beverage) and garnish with a stick of black licorice. You’ll get extra credit for artfully carving your licorice into the shape of a crow quill!

Mr. Dog’s “Long, Low Growl”

1.5 oz. blended scotch
1.5 oz. strong ginger beer

Blood orange

Pour ingredients into a rocks glass (or borrow one of Mr. Man’s antique Toby mugs, as Mr. Dog likes to do!). Add a jumbo ice cube, stir for a moment, and garnish with a generous slice of blood orange. Now take a bite out of your toothsome libation!

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