The Shot

Add a Splash of the Caribbean to Your Holidays

A tropical take on eggnog; Vivian Howard’s new pizza place; and surviving snow

You’re still shopping for presents, addressing holiday cards, and hoping that family vacation will plan itself. It’s beginning to look a lot you’re not ready for Christmas. But no need to panic. We’ve got you covered with a top-shelf mix of recipes, gift ideas, and destinations around the South. We call it The Shot.

Island Eggnog


Compère Lapin’s Cajun Coquito.

Christmas in the Deep South means everything from bow ties to flip flops, so it requires a special kind of cocktail to serve your guests. Look no further than the Cajun Coquito from Compère Lapin, Chef Nina Compton’s outstanding New Orleans-Caribbean hybrid that the Times-Picayune named Restaurant of the Year in 2016.

Created by Compère’s head bartender, Abigail Gullo, this creamy Caribbean eggnog puts a tropical spin on traditional nog with coconut rum, coconut milk, and Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut. Ideal whether you’re celebrating the season on a sandy beach … or just wish you were.

Compère Lapin’s Cajun Coquito
Makes 4-6 servings

4 oz. Coquito Mix*
½ oz. Coconut Rum
¾ oz. Spiced Rum
¾ oz. Dark Rum
½ oz. Liquor 43
½ oz. Hamilton Pimento Dram
1 oz. Cane Syrup (Simple syrup will do or maple syrup is divine)

In a blender, add all ingredients and fill with ice. Blend until smooth. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.

*Coquito Mix

1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 14-oz. can condensed milk
1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
1 15-oz. can Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut

Directions: Mix together. You’ll end up with more than three pints of coquito mix, which means you will have it for days and can use the excess for the kids as a non-boozy option.

Santa Cruise


Mona Lisa by Boatsetter.

Speaking of the tropics, if the boat lover in your life still doesn’t have anything under tree, may we suggest a 60-foot yacht? Or a fishing schooner? How about a catamaran?

This year, they’ll fit under the tree and in your wallet, thanks to Florida-based Boatsetter, the “Airbnb of boats” that connects prospective boat renters and owners online. Just name your destination and choose between sailboats and motorboats, captained or solo, for a four-hour cruise or four-week vacation. All rentals come fully insured with 24-hour waterside assistance in case anything goes wrong, which is more than we can say for that Santa sweater you were thinking about getting instead.

J’adore Decor


Camellia bowls are a pretty way to liven up your holiday decorating.

If you’re searching for ways to dress up your holiday decor with a little Southern flair, be sure to check out G&G’s Facebook Live session with style director Haskell Harris and executive managing editor Phillip Rhodes. From magnolia garland to Moravian stars to camellias in a cut glass bowl, they’ve got tips, tricks, and sourcing options to help you bring the South inside this season without breaking a sweat.

Chef & The Pizza


If you’re a Vivian Howard fan, but a trip to her famous Chef & the Farmer restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina, isn’t in the cards, we’ve got good news. Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, are officially opening their newest spot, in Wilmington, North Carolina, this week. Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, so named for Knight’s and Howard’s nicknames (“Benny” and “Big Time”), will serve a full menu of 14-inch Neapolitan pizzas, antipasti, salads, pasta, and risottos.

Jim Diecchio (previously at Rock Salt in Charlotte and Jose Andres’ Zatinya in Washington, D.C.) will helm Benny’s Big Time as chef de cuisine. He gave a full preview to the NCF&B podcast, which you should go ahead and subscribe to while you’re at it. It’s Howard’s first restaurant outside of Kinston, and the first pizzeria we’ve ever heard of in an old shirt factory. Expect elevated concepts, a relaxed beach-town vibe, and the biggest attraction in Wilmington since Joey and Pacey put Dawson’s Creek on the map.

Parting Shots

Photo: Melissa Allen

Across the South, last weekend’s snow complemented holiday decor.

This week, the team at The Shot is …Declaring victory on behalf of the South in the face of a half foot of snow from Mississippi to Maryland. Snowmen in Georgia? Done and done. … Saluting the Austin American-Statesman for its deep dive into a Southern classic so wrong it’s right—Velveeta Fudge (Sean Brock recipe included). … Reserving judgment on the wisdom of the Grand Ole Opry’s expansion to Times Square. Can country music truly shine a few doors down from M&M’s World? TBD. … High fiving the news that Eduardo Jordan’s JuneBaby has been named Eater’s Best New Restaurant of the Year. We had a feeling. … And we’re signing up for Words with Friends, the online Scrabble-like game that matched an 81-year-old Florida retiree with a 22-year-old hip hop producer from New York for a game last summer. The unlikely pairing turned into a real-life friendship and set the Internet on fire last week with the lesson that even in a world of strangers, you can always find a friend.

Until next week….