Don't ask me out for a drink because, 1.) I'm cheap and 2.) at the height of holiday shopping insanity, I like to leave my house less than Sigorney Weaver in Copycat. So I stay home, watch TV, read and drink. My drink of choice is usually peppermint Schnapps in hot chocolate. Yes, I know this is hardly the sophisticated, urbane beverage that Scott Reitz probably enjoys at home, but there can only be one Scott Reitz and peppermint schnapps keeps me from crying when those St. Jude commercials come on.
This year I wanted to branch out and try a few new drinks, because I'm married and enjoy high fiber cereals and I think that's enough regularity for a lifetime. I decided to try five new holiday drinks and share them with you. My criteria was that it couldn't be too high falutin', otherwise you could just go to a bar, and it couldn't be too expensive, otherwise I would be at a bar.
Here are my findings. I wore a lab coat so this is all very scientific.
Night One: I've never been much of a brandy drinker, but I am a slushie fan, so I chose the brandy slush as my first experimental holiday drink. The brandy slush is a delicious, doesn't-taste-like-alcohol kind of a drink, so much so that I ended my evening with several ill-advised, heavy-breathing phone calls to Chef Tim Love. It would be excellent for a holiday party or forgetting that you just signed divorce papers.
Night Two: Wassail is something that was floating around my tacit consciousness, alongside the gout and Khloe Kardashian and a slew of other things that I find hard to conjure exact definitions for. I knew it was a lauded holiday drink and that was about it, so I decided to give it a shot.
It took over an hour to make wassail, during which I watched the Walking Dead finale. (Spoiler: zombies!) By the time the wassail was ready and Walking Dead was over, I had the anxiety threshold of Barney Fife, so I added some of the previous night's brandy to the mix. I'm not sure if this still counts as regulation "wassail" but it was delicious and the perfect drink for a cold night in. Warning, though: Wassail is a bitch to make, a process probably better tolerated before the invention of television, when all you had to do at night was peel apples and read Dickens and pray for someone to invent a birth control pill.
Night Three: On the third night of my Yuletide Drinking Binge, a friend called and dropped some Glogg knowledge on me. Glogg, she said, is a Scandinavian holiday drink made with wine, brandy (definitely getting my money's worth on the brandy front) and served over lumped sugar. I've never actually mixed wine and alcohol pre-consumption before, and any drink that had the possibility of putting me in a diabetic coma for the remainder of the holiday season was something I simply had to try.
I have to say, despite Glogg's unfortunate name, and the fact that you can't have it immediately, it was by far my favorite drink I tried. It needs to simmer for 45 minutes, but I just got Bob Sturm's ebook so the time passed fairly quickly. Glogg didn't make me drunk, but it gave everything the same pleasant, hazy Christmas glow that you see when you are a kid, before you know the anxiety of Christmas-light electricity bills and holiday spending guilt.
Night Four: The following night I came home to find my husband and a group of friends in my living room, and for a moment I thought it was an intervention, so I went with a non-alcoholic drink that was suggested to me: Hot Dr. Pepper with lemon.
Hot Dr Pepper with lemon is about as "vintage" as a drink gets, as it was used medicinally long before the term "medicinal" was used as a cover to openly buy weed. But now, I was assured, it was a fun, festive "winter warmer!" and a "must try!" And oh, also, it tastes like iced tea that you left in your car for a few weeks in July. Any warm feelings I had from it were negated by my waking in the night with my stomach screaming and cursing at me like Alice Laussade getting a served an undersized sandwich. I'm not sure if it was the Dr Pepper or the stomach flu, but I won't be having hot Dr Pepper again. Ever.
Night Five: While at a holiday party, I was served something the hostess, Becky, called "Sara's Slushy Punch." She said she had been making it for years with jello, pineapple juice and rum and that it was a hit whereever she went. Having never been a fan of Jello, I was understandably leery, but let me tell you: When Jello was mixed with rum and pineapple juice and 7-Up to make this drink, it must have felt the way Scott Hamilton felt when he put on his first pair of figure skates. This drink was cheery and fun, like having the brassy gay guy from Airplane! at your boring white elephant exchange. I loved it.
So there you go: holiday drinks to help tolerate your family guests over the holiday season. I'm open to more suggestions, as I still have unopened bottles of rum and Kahlua and a mom who keeps asking if the Observer is a "pornography magazine."