Coffee and rich rum bring the holiday spirit to the Hatton Smith cocktail

Todd A. Price
The American South
The Hatton Smith from The Atomic Lounge in Birmingham, Alabama was named after one of the bar's regulars.

This is part of Southern Kitchen's 12 Days of Cookies and Cocktails series, which runs daily through Christmas Eve. Each day, we'll pair fun and festive cocktails with classic cookie recipes. 

A Christmas cocktail for Feizal Valli needs to have the richness you would find in gingerbread or fruitcake. Valli co-owned the nationally celebrated cocktail bar The Atomic Lounge in Birmingham, Alabama, which closed for good last September. When asked for a drink from The Atomic Lounge to pair with classic Kentucky Bourbon Balls, he picked The Hatton Smith.

More:This big batch of Kentucky Bourbon Balls works perfectly for a holiday crowd

Like most cocktails at The Atomic Lounge, it was named for one of the bar's regulars.

“He’s kind of a man about town,” Valli said of Smith. “He’s got so much energy, so he’s kind of bananas.”

Valli included banana liqueur to reflect Smith’s personality. The coffee syrup honors the coffee company Smith used to run. And the blackstrap rum, with its dark molasses flavor, makes Valli think of the holidays.

For the first time in years, Valli will not be running a bar this holiday season. He plans to attend holiday parties like any other “civilian.” He is working on a new downtown Birmingham bar called The House of Found Object, slated to open in April. Next Christmas season, Valli will again spread cheer from behind the bar.

Serves: 1 cocktail


1 ounce bourbon (Bulleit or Buffalo Trace are both good choices)

.75 ounce Cruzan Blackstrap Rum

.5 ounce Giffard Banane du Brésil

.25 ounce coffee syrup (strong coffee combined with an equal parts amount of sugar)

1 dash Angostura bitters


Stir all the ingredients in mixing glass with ice until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist.