When the staff at The Commoner started thinking about Christmas, they wanted to pick a beloved holiday movie for its theme.
Last year’s was “A Christmas Story.” But this year, the staff immediately picked “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
“It’s not Christmas until you see the movie,” said Christa Maffei, director of food and beverage for the restaurant and Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
Plus, she said the movie is full of inspiration for holiday food and drinks. Maffei teamed up with Alex Dando, the lead bartender at The Commoner, and Aaron Grinnell, the restaurant’s operations manager, to create the seven-drink menu.
“Get the three of us in a room, and it’s comical,” Maffei said, adding that the final results were full of fun and whimsy. So how did they come up with three of those cocktails?
The obvious choice
Maffei said Grinnell has a family recipe for eggnog that he starts preparing in August. The Boss’ Nog is “lots of booze … a few eggs … decades of family tradition,” according to the menu.
Maffei said the eggnog had to be on the menu. And, of course, it had to be served in moose mugs just like the ones the Griswolds have. Maffei said she found the mugs online and bought several dozen right away.
Tacky *and* classy
Also on the menu is a jello shot — Aunt Bethany’s Jello (Shots) to be exact.
“We’re not a college bar,” Maffei said. “… This is the only time you’re going to see us serve jello shots.”
But, they are jello shots that are both tacky and classy, she said. They’re served with a fork, after all. And if you want to say “grace” before your jello, we won’t stop you.
The drink you’ll struggle to say (maybe)
The most hilarious, though, Maffei said, is a drink that is a mix of Plantation Dark Rum, orange marmalade, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and nutmeg meringue. Maffei said it’s funny to watch customers order the drink. Some even try to whisper it to the bartender, she said.
It’s called the S#!T*R’s Full!
But saying it at the bar can’t be any more embarrassing than having cousin Eddie outside your house on Christmas morning, right?
Although she loves eggnog, Maffei said she can’t pick a favorite holiday drink. “It’s all so good. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have made it to the menu,” she said. The goal is to give people something to keep talking about, even through the grey January months, she said. Although these drinks are only available through Christmas Day, she said next up is a list of “bubbly specials” between Christmas and New Year.
Plus, The Commoner is having an ugly sweater party at 10 p.m. Thursday till 2 a.m. Friday with cocktails, food and a live DJ. Wear your ugliest sweater, and order one of these.