The St. Nick cocktail {a bottled cocktail from Fluid Dynamics}

It looks like Santa’s been bad this year if this boozy concoction, The St. Nick Cocktail, is any indication. This is not your grandma’s genteel holiday quaffer. Though similarly warming, it bodes with some seriously sinister christmas spirit. This pre-mixed bottled cocktail’s story goes a few years back, inevitably intertwined with ghosts of the past…as most nauseating yule tide tales go. Ugh. Bear with me…

The St. Nick Cocktail

This rather unconventional post has a double purpose: to present and review this dangerous holiday dram, and to introduce and set the stage for a series of posts to follow that will document my experience touring one of the distilleries belonging to Craft Distillers and its associate labels Germain-Robin, Fluid Dynamics, and Greenway Distillery, all based in Ukiah, CA in Mendocino County.

Germain Robin Barrel

My cousin, and good friend, Scott Welch introduced me to Germain-Robin a number of years ago. They produce fantastic, cognac-style brandies on a hundred-year-old potstill that they actually brought to California from the Cognac region of France. I was already familiar with this fine brandy because Scott’s father’s local vineyard management company actually grows some of the high-quality wine grapes that go into these artisan brandies, so a chance to discover some of their other offerings–most distilled on the same potstill–excited me. I went to visit Scott and his family in Fort Bragg nearly three years ago over an extended New Year’s Eve weekend. The day before they were to arrive, he offered to bring us along on an exclusive tour of the Germain-Robin distillery. Unfortunately, timing prevented this from happening. He did, however, bring one of his spoils from the tour with him: The St. Nick.

The St. Nick by Fluid Dynamics

This barrel-mixed cocktail, a blend of Germain-Robin Brandy and Clear Creek Cranberry Liqueur was an alien concept to me at the time. I don’t remember appreciating the cocktail itself as much as the rather tongue-in-cheek gesture of buying me a cocktail bearing my namesake. Retroactively, this experience now holds some serious significance. Since this day, my eye has been fixed on Germain-Robin. Now that I’m in the industry, I just had to go on my own tour.

Germain Robin barrels

This past October, I took a short vacation to the area and made sure to arrange a tour–unashamedly pulling every industry card that I had at my disposal. I was not prepared for the magnificence of the experience, the beauty of the products, and the unwavering passion and hospitality of our guide and host, the incomparable Jack Crispin Cain. Cain is a wonderful fellow and is responsible for most of the craft distilling that comes out of the Germain-Robin facility: rose liqueur, whiskies, gins, vodkas, and a breathtakingly unique absinthe. There will follow three more posts to continue this narrative and review some of the other spirit-boons I returned with–but for old time’s sake, I also had to come home with a bottle of this jolly old swill, give it the proper serving technique it deserves, and write about it…finally!

The St. Nick Cocktail - Fluid Dynamics

On its own, The St. Nick is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, However, even at 33.6% abv, it’s hot. Boozy and defiant. I found that giving it a good stir with a few large ice cubes and embellishing it with a few dashes of Angostura and an orange twist significantly rounds out the experience and tames the fire to a well-balanced warmth with contemplative depth. This one to sip with friends or loved ones around the fire…or completely alone. He’ll provide enough company.

The St. Nick Bottled Cocktail

The St. Nick Cocktail, and all of his family, can be purchased onsite or through a limited chain of suppliers. Germain-Robin brandy and apple brandy can regularly be found at Craft Wine and Beer in Reno.

Happy Holidays!!

The St. Nick Cocktail
This boozy winter warmer gets some serious cocktail technique and comes out round and jolly with a hint of mystery.
Recipe type: Cocktail
Cuisine: Holiday
Serves: 1
  1. Pour The St. Nick in a mixing glass and fill with ice.
  2. Stir for at least 15 seconds
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist and be sure to express the peel's oils over the surface of the drink.


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Nicholas Stanton

Bartender/Sales Associate at Craft Wine & Beer
I am strongly rooted in the Reno community. I believe in radically local ethics and the consumer support of micro communities. A large component of this is in the arts to express our realities, outdoor activities to encourage health and a deep care for the environment and food and drink culture to support local producers, farmers, and businesses. When I'm not geeking out and purveying new and exciting products at Craft Wine & Beer, I can be found cycling around town, reading literature of the Americas and dense philosophy and critical theory. Oh yeah, and keeping my two neurotic Border Collies entertained.
Filed under: Spirit Reviews
1 comment… add one
  • Mary November 7, 2017, 10:02 am

    What a lovely festive drink for the holiday season! Pre-mixed cocktails are a bit hot or miss, and its lovely to see a unique one that seems to be tasty enough on its own. The addition of the bitters and orange, though, will definitely take it to a new level. Thanks for sharing your story!


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