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Naughty Santa 

Red Moon, 1500 St. Charles Street, 314-436-7900.

Santa Claus, as you know, wasn't always 68 years old. When he set out to become the king of December, he was a young man paying his dues. At 21, Claus was a coal miner. A lithe arrow of a man, he shot through life like red-hot rails on ice. He looked like that dude from Maroon 5.

Back then, his world was black-and-white.

In the morning he'd skid his sled to a stop in front of a coal mine, strap on his headlamp and descend deep into the black. Underneath the North Pole with a pickax, he'd grind away at the coal and shovel it into buckets. The days were dense. Time crawled. Halfway through the day, he'd stare at his pocket-watch, dumbfounded, shake it and bring it to his ear in disbelief.

But he had a secret. Every afternoon he'd steal away into the darkest corner of the darkest channel and pull from his pocket a tattered picture that he carried with him always. It was of two Eskimo ladies. They were kissing. Each other. And not just nose kissing. Lip kissing. Naughty Santa. He even painted their lips red. Then he'd peel a pomegranate and set the little pearls on his tongue. He'd put a mint leaf over it. From his flask he'd take a swig of vodka, swirl it with the fruit and mint, then crunch, crunch, crunch as he swallowed. He'd chase it with Chambord black raspberry liqueur. He'd do it over and over again, until he was drunk. It was in one of these stupors that he had an epiphany about spreading toys throughout the world.

After work, he shot from the depths of the cave like whipped cream from a can and headed into the night. He ate, ate, ate and pondered toys, toys and more toys. He plotted latitudes and longitudes before he stumbled to bed. Day in and day out he did this. He awakened, headed back to the coal mines, and in the afternoons, he'd peek at his picture. Oh, that Naughty Santa.

Red Moon offers a Naughty Santa, and we can't recommend it highly enough. Its foundation is the new Pearl Persephone vodka — distilled five times and infused with pomegranate. It's a glory to behold, strongly suggesting pom-sweetness without being slutty about it. Bartender Hans mixes Persephone with Chambord black-raspberry liqueur, simple syrup, mint and seltzer. He dumps it into a pint glass on the rocks.

As if that's not enough, Hans adds pomegranate seeds, which drop to the bottom like marbles into a bathtub. They glow down there and can be sucked up by the extra-large straw — just like the tapioca pearls in a bubble tea. It's a drink for the ages, one that's perfect for the season, crisp and fruity, multidimensional and inspired. In a black-and-white wintertime, it will color your person with a pearl of redness that glows within the depths.

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