Learn to impress your holiday guests with SALT’s Merry Time on the Marina mixology classes

By Christina Campodonico 

Burnt cinnamon stick, Castro’s Christmas Nightcap tastes like an iced hot toddy

The Leg Lamp is an iconic prop from the cult holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” and now it’s also a festive part of the seasonal cocktail menu at SALT, the Marina del Rey Hotel’s harbor bar and restaurant.

The Leg Lamp cocktail, true to its name, is served in a glass shaped exactly like the father’s prized lamp from the film. A frothy white mixture of gin, white cranberry peach rosemary syrup, house-made coconut syrup, a shot of Real McCoy rum, BroVo Douglas Fir Liqueur, Fee Brothers Falernum Liqueur  and lemon juice fills up the tall glass — topped by a sprig of rosemary for an aromatic and “Christmasy” flourish, says the drink’s creator, Pacifica Hotels mixologist
Ricky Mendez.

Sip this one slowly next to the waterside fire pit during cocktail hour, or better yet learn how to make the drink yourself during one of SALT’s upcoming Merry Time on the Marina mixology classes, held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Dec. 19.

Other surprising treats on Mendez’s handcrafted cocktail menu for the class include the Candy Cane Lane cocktail — vodka with a mixture of peppermint, white chocolate liqueur and orange liqueurs, plus simple syrup and heavy cream and crushed candy cane on the rim). There’s also Santa’s Midnight Snack: Jim Beam Bonded, Lustau Sherry Port, cacao, dry vermouth and cherry bark bitters barrel-aged together for one month; “the adult version of a chocolate cherry pie at night,” says Mendez.

Feel festive with the pomegranate liqueur-infused Red Ryder cocktail with vodka, lime juice, melon spiced bitters, cranberry rosemary syrup and sugared cranberry swizzle sticks; or, warm up with the Noche Buena, a Mexican-style holiday punch featuring an assortment of fruits with your choice of tequila, mezcal or rum served hot with sugar cane. A decadent daiquiri designed with Santa in mind or a presently off-menu eggnog could also be in store,
hints Mendez.

A rich and boozy hot chocolate spiked with peppermint mocha Kahlúa is a satisfying drink to end the night. For fans of rum, there’s the cheekily named Castro’s Christmas Nightcap, made with biscotti liqueur, vanilla bean syrup and Tiki bitters (nutmeg, allspice, cumin) that tastes like an iced hot toddy. The drink gets an extra fragrant flourish from a burnt cinnamon stick the bartender lights on fire then dunks into the glass. It’s a nod to the Cuban cigar — but one that smells like Christmas.

Merry Time on the Marina classes are held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Dec. 19 at SALT Restaurant + Bar, 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey. Tickets are $45 at eventbrite.com.