Christmas in Old Santa Fe

Christmas in Old Santa Fe is a delightful experience. The cool, crisp winter air is perfumed with smoke from piñon and native cedar fires. On Christmas Eve, many Santa Feans travel south about 40 miles to a wonderful American Indian pueblo called San Felipe for a very special occasion. The little church is lit with oil lamps, and American Indians dance up to the altar in a prayer ceremony, followed by a midnight mass.

At The Fort, we follow a lovely tradition adapted from New Mexico at our annual Farolito Lighting and Pinecone Ceremony. Farolitos, or little lanterns, are easily made by filling small brown paper bags with sand or cat litter, folding down the tops of the sacks about two inches to stabilize them, and then inserting a long-burning candle in each bag. When placed along walkways, around porches or on the roofline of a building, the farolitos shine a cheery light in the chilly night.

A large crowd gathers in the courtyard of the Fort restaurant for the annual lighting of the farolitos.  The Tesoro Cultural Center celebrated the tradition of the lighting of the farolitos, a yearly event at The Fort restaurant in Morrison Colorado, on November 28, 2011. The southwestern tradition of the lighting of the farolitos has been celebrated in Colorado for the past 24 years.  Families gather from all over Colorado to participate in group caroling, food and drinks and the traditional pinecone lighting ceremony.   Manuel Martinez/Viva Colorado

Manuel Martinez/Viva Colorado

The Fort has also been known to celebrate the holiday season with a festive libation known as Yard of Flannel. An acquired taste, it marries the hoppy taste of beer with the warmth of rum-based eggnog. When Sam Arnold researched this historic cocktail, he discovered the Yard of Flannel takes its name from its soft texture, and the warmth it provides. Once a favorite among coachmen, outriders and wagoneers, tavern bartenders would pass up a yard-long glass to the freezing drivers perched high above, who were quickly warmed by this delightful concoction. The recipe sounds far more complicated than it is, and in our opinion, is worth the effort in the resulting warmth of body and soul.

 Yard of Flannel

Serves Four

  • 1 quart good ale
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 4 oz. Jamaican dark rum
  • Grated nutmeg, for sprinkling

Heat the ale in a saucepan. In a blender, beat the eggs with sugar. Add the ginger, followed by the rum, and blend well. When the ale is almost boiling, slowly combine the two mixtures, pouring the hot ale (a little at a time) into the egg mixture and blending well, to prevent curdling. Alternate pouring a bit of each mixture back and forth between the saucepan and the blender until the drink is silky. Serve in a large glass, sprinkle with nutmeg, and enjoy!

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