Holiday Drinks

The holiday season is a fun time, quite possibly the best time of year. People don't really expect much out of you at work, Christmas is piggybacked by New Year's, so that's two straight short work weeks, and generally, everyone seems to be in good spirits. And it's spirits that I'm here to talk about.

No, not the kind of spirits that Charles Dickens wrote of, I'm talking drinks. Libations. Or if you're from Brant Brown and Chaim Witz's part of America - "hooch". Like I said, it's a great time of year, but honestly, doesn't Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, all of them pass by just a little bit more smoothly with some alcohol? I thought so.

What better way to ramp things up this holiday than to bring something exotic to the party. Don't be the guy who brings a six pack of Miller Lite bottles with a bow on it. A regular bottle of wine? Please! It's unimaginative, uninspiring and lame. Why don't you listen to what the 'ol Hundley has to say? And if you're the type to question my qualifications on such matters, know that I honed my bartending skills in college - at none other than The American Legion. For those who don't know what those are, it's a lot like the bar in the movie Cocktail, only with way less excitement, far fewer customers, a helluva lot smokier, and instead of flipping bottles of liquor about, I opened cans of Old Style and Pabst.

Here, in alphabetical order, are The Hundley's Top 10 Holiday Drinks:

1. Beer Yes, I did just insult beer a few sentences ago, but that was your run-of-the-mill weasel piss. Bringing some assorted six packs of specialty beer is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Particularly if you can find some Winter or Christmas Ales. Sierra Nevada makes a great Celebration Ale, Anchor Steam has a lovely Christmas Ale, and Sam Adams makes a really good Winter Ale - just to name a few.

Recipe - uh, go to the store and buy it, or delve into homebrewing.

2. Candy Cane I have to credit the patrons of the American Legion for this one. Although there was some discrepancy on the name (Christmas Berry?) of the drink, there is no debating about it's tastiness. Critics would say it errs to the "dandy" side of drinks. I say it tastes great. A good drink to offset the mass of hot holiday drinks.

Recipe: Ice, shot of apple schnapps, shot of peach schnapps, 1/2 shot of peppermint schnapps, cranberry juice to taste or about 1/2 of a glass. Shake, strain into highball glass.

3. Hot Buttered Rum Categorize this one under Anything That's Bad For You Also Tastes Good. This is a pretty classic holiday drink, and one that will get you good and sauced because the alcohol is tough to taste. Who says you can't put butter in a drink?

Recipe: slice of butter, spoonful of brown sugar, vanilla extract, 2 shots of rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, hot water.

4. Irish Coffee Next to a bump of cocaine, is there anything better than a cup of coffee after a big meal? How about you make it even better by adding some alcohol? The true Traditionalists will say that this drink should only include black coffee and Irish whiskey. Sucks to your narrow mindedness, I say! Any whiskey will work, and what's wrong with some Bailey's Irish Cream if you don't like black coffee? Answer: nothing.

Recipe: Duh. Can also substitute Sanka.

5. Meade Ah, here we are. The high falootin' choice for the specialty beer drinker that likes to put on airs. Look for this at the local brew pub, usually being kept hot in one of those old coffee thermoses that has the pump on the top. I don't know how they make it, but the main components are honey and hops. Most places make this with an emphasis on the "oomph" of the drink, so expect some high alcohol content.

Recipe: go to a brewery or pick up a homebrew/distilling kit.

6. Mulled Wine (Glögg) I'll freely admit that I've never had traditional mulled wine. I have, however, had the Scandinavian version, called Glögg. It's served warm, and contains red wine, cinnamon, lingon berries, cloves, blackberries, oranges, apples, raisins, and Everclear. Usually it's slowly cooked over an entire day, causing the liquid to thicken somewhat, and achieving a dark color. Now that I think of it, it kind of looks like used motor oil. We drink it out of shot glasses. Stuff will fuck you up. You can find commercially made bottles if you look hard enough.

Recipe: see above, don't let it boil or it will lose alcohol content. Can also substitute Everclear with vodka or brandy. Varies by family recipe.

7. Punch Not entirely fun or original, but a cold punch still has it's place. Typically brought to the party by your crazy old aunt, sometimes you have to take one for the team and have a glass. You never know, it could be the only alternative to soda pop or wine. Hopefully going in you knew this was going to be a stuffy, teetotaling party, so you traveled with a "heavy coat". That means you have a flask in tow.

Recipe: Varies by person. Here's one variety

8. Smoothie I have to believe this is a regional shot. That's right, a shot. If you live in Iowa or Illinois, there's a chance that the old man bar will know what you're talking about, though be sure to ask what they put in it. A good one to introduce when you're standing around the bar with just the guys, or maybe guys and a husky gal. Easier to drink down in one gulp than a straight shot of whiskey, it's customary to bellow out "Ooooh! Smooooothy!" after you put it down.

Recipe: shot glass - half whiskey, half peppermint schnapps

9. Tom and Jerry When I think of holiday drinks, I always think of these. That being said, it took me 30 years to have one. Another hot drink, this one is great to have when you first get to the party. It's cold outside, it takes forever to grab all of the presents, which you tried like hell to get in one trip, until you realized it wasn't possible, and you had to make two trips, ultimately ending up entirely frozen. A Tom and Jerry will warm you up, and not just with the temperature, but also with the booze. Many get so serious about this drink that they have actual Tom and Jerry glasses and a bowl to hold the eggnog. Yowza!

Recipe: shot and a half of brandy, shot and a half of dark rum. Put in coffee mug, add eggnog and hot water. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and nutmeg.

10. Wassail I confess, I've never had this, but it has to be included because I've always wanted to have it, and they have a song about it for Christ's sake! From what I gather, it's basically a mulled wine, heavy on the apple flavoring and the use of rum. Bonus points if you do the presentation that's served in a hollowed out apple and garnished with cinnamon sprigs. And you thought the only other use for an apple was what you saw in 40 Year Old Virgin! If you could pull off this drink at a party, you'd be the man, no doubt.

Recipe: here's one variety

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