Ladies and gentlemen, the holiday season has officially begun. Lo, heavenly aromas of roasting poultry and the nauseating voices of a thousand visiting relatives.
Time to break out the booze.
But not the usual stuff. No one wants a Bud Light or eggnog and rum when the dark specter of holiday TV is looming on the horizon. This most festive time of year, as befits its ancient and storied history, deserves only the best of intoxicants -cocktails absolutely guaranteed to knock you on your a– and make you come back begging for more.
So let’s get into the spirits, folks. Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa and Auld Lang Syne. Let’s hope these drinks make sure we enter 2014 not remembering Aunt Gertrude’s prune fruitcake.
1. Night Watchman – The brave men of the Night’s Watch may be forbidden from having sex, but let’s hope they can still drink! This beer/scotch cocktail, inspired by George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones,” is bold, rich and sure to warm your spirits on cold winter nights. After all, the holiday season is dark and full of terrors.
– Imperial Porter, preferably Black Butte
– Two fingers Glenlivet 12
– Splash of cocoa liqueur
2. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Grasshopper – Midwest winters and mint go together like Midwest summers and road construction. This colorful peppermint-and-chocolate concoction celebrates that spirit. And a cherry for color makes it all the more appealing to red-nosed Chicagoans without the good sense to spend the winter in Florida.
– Three parts peppermint schnapps
– One part cr’ÛÎåme de menthe liqueur
– Chocolate syrup drizzle
– Maraschino cherry
– Stirred, not shaken!
3. Bloody Meredith – This old Irish recipe for a Bloody Mary from Chicago’s South Side is like any other gin Bloody Mary you’d find in the city, but for one crucial difference: some beef sandwich au jus mixed in. If it sounds disgusting, why then you can just beat it back up to the North Side.
– Three fingers Beefeater gin
– 4 oz. tomato juice
– 1/2 oz. beef au jus
– Splash of Worcestershire sauce
– Splash of Tabasco
– Pinch of celery salt
– Pinch of ground pepper
– 2 tsp. horseradish
– Two pimento olives
– Lemon and Lime wedges for garnish (optional)
4. Santa’s Pick-Me-Up – After a long Christmas Eve delivering presents to all the undeserving First World children, good old St. Nick likes to relax by the fire with his loving wife, a good book and enough hard liquor to make a polar bear cross-eyed. Here’s to you, Santa! (Hope the hangover goes away before New Year’s.)
– Two parts Goldschl’ÛÎ_ger schnapps
– One part vanilla cr’ÛÎåme vodka
– Hot chocolate (optional)
5. Bloody Ice Queen – C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” series is a beloved children’s epic extolling courage, love and honorable Christian values. This drink is the exact opposite of that. Clear liquor on ice and enough kick to send Aslan packing with his tail between his legs. All hail the Ice Queen! “His Dark Materials” was the better series anyway.
– Two oz. vodka, iced
– Splash of cherry juice
– Repeat as needed
6. Whiskey Pickle – Sometimes the weirdest drinks are the best. This warm cocktail, held in high esteem by Chicago bartenders, is sure to put some hair on your chest and fire in your belly. And if the whiskey doesn’t have you humming “Rocky Road to Dublin,” the pickle just might.
– Two fingers Jameson, hot
– Three oz. hot apple cider
– Pinch of cinnamon
– Butter pickle
7. Poinsettia – A classic spin on the mimosa for anyone who isn’t a rich blue heir, this sparkling wine/cranberry juice mix can add some color to a New Year’s Eve toast or put a cap on any holiday party. Just be careful with the bubbles. Anything that’s so bland it needs to be mixed with fruit juice is not something to be overdone.
– Quarter-flute sparkling wine (any kind will do)
– Half-flute cranberry juice
8. Sapporo Shogun – Japan’s far north is famous for three things: its beautiful cast-iron teapots, its heavy winter lagers and its red-faced snow monkeys. This cocktail celebrates the former two and makes you resemble the last. Drink and be merry, honorable Drunk-san! And see if you can get those monkeys to make some room in the hot spring.
– One finger cold sake
– Two oz. green tea
– Sapporo Premium
9. Sparkling Wines – Sparkling wines are the Jaguars of the alcohol world. Swank names, jank flavor and flashy and expensive with no substance. But for some reason, people love to drink this fancy swill whenever New Year’s rolls around. So if you have to pollute your mouth on the 31st, you might as well do it with as with as little toll on the wallet as possible. Courtesy of the Huffington Post, here are some “great” sparkling wines for less than $20.
– Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut ($13.99)
– Gruet Brut ($14.99)
– Segura Viudas Brut Cava ($11.99)
– Mionetto Prosecco ($16.99)
– Stellar Organics Extra Dry Sparkling Wine ($9.99)
– Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava ($7.99)
– Michel Freres Brut ($15.99)
– Korbel Brut ($15.99)
– Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut ($11.99)
– Chandon Blanc de Noirs ($16.99)