Merry Christmas from New Hampshire! I am happy to have returned from Iceland and Canada in time for Christmas. Did you know that it is nearly impossible to buy alcohol in Iceland on the weekends? (Except in a bar).
As promised, I’m back from Iceland from a business trip, so what better time to get drunk? At a funeral? Yes, but no one I know has died lately, so this will have to do. And since it’s nearly Christmas, I ventured to the local State owned liquor store (conveniently located on the highway) to outfit myself with everything I’d need to share the spirits with friends.
When it comes to Christmas, most people think of the food, but there’s a long history of booze that comes along with the season, and why not cram all that history into one bender?
I wanted to ease myself into this thing, which is to say that the idea of hot buttered anything sounded gross. But a can of cider couldn’t hurt me, right? My choice was some manner of Honeycrisp cider, because that sounded pleasant enough. The drink itself, room temperature as it was, was not horrible. It tasted like apple juice that someone left outside for too long and maybe it got rained on a bit and maybe there’s a bug or two in it, but by and large, it’s still apple, so it’s mostly non-toxic.
I don’t know anything about cider except what Ned Flanders told me once, and that doesn’t really explain much, especially about how this became boozy. I guess it’s just fermented, so maybe my impression of it tasting like juice someone left outside isn’t too far off.
Holiday Spirit: Yukon Cornelius
#6. Mulled Wine
I should have known anything named “Warm ‘n Cozy” was going to try to screw me like a slippery hobo hopped up on gas fumes. So instead of buying and drinking the pre-made swill. I made my own GLOGG (from an old family recipe – at least that is what the recipe said on the internet). The smell was something like dirty ditch water with an old sock stuffed with bad fruit nearby. The taste inexplicably was pretty good. Wine, Brandy, assorted fruit and nuts. What could go wrong?
Holiday Spirit: The Ghost of Christmas Past from Scrooged, better known as Buster Poindexter
#5. Hot Buttered Rum
I got this recipe from Rachael Ray, so if I ever see her, expect that I’ll spit on her. It requires spiced rum, and then some brown sugar creamed with some butter and spices. Heh. Creamed.
Once you mix all your stuff together, you add the rum and then hot water. The resulting brew looks like mud. I don’t understand why people invent drinks that take a bunch of satisfactory ingredients and combine them into trash, but here we are. It’s the hot water that ruins this. There’s too much hot water, such that the whole brew is watered down. Have you ever watered down alcohol and tried to drink it? It’s just water with a terrible aftertaste. That’s what this was. Brown water with that stringent booze aftertaste that everyone loves to get when they lick a Stridex pad.
I thought that maybe it needed to sit for a spell and that would improve things, but mostly the opposite happened. The longer it sat, the more it split into layers. I made this diagram to help you appreciate what that means.
Holiday Spirit: Santa with Muscles
#4. Hot Buttered Beer
According to the website on which I found the recipe for this grog, hot buttered beer is from medieval times, and this recipe is actually from the year 1588. Pro tip: people in 1588 either had no taste buds or were secretly courting the blessed sweetness of death at every turn. This was like drinking hot toilet.
For those not in the know, the process for making this is a bit laborious, which makes the final product ever so much more disappointing. You need to boil some ale with spices in it, then whip sugar and egg yolks together before mixing it into the beer and then melting butter into the whole nasty brew.
I followed the directions from 1588 pretty closely, and even got a bit of an arm cramp whipping that yolk and sugar by hand, because I didn’t want to clean my electric mixers.
This drink looks appetizing when it’s done. It’s creamy and off-white and frothy — it looks like something Starbucks would charge $7 for and then sprinkle with cinnamon like I’m a baby or something. The taste, on the other hand, is like beer filtered through someone’s butter-infused beard.
If you’ve ever tasted beer that’s gone off, then you’ve enjoyed a beer tastier than this. It was so bad that I am forced to believe either the recipe was wrong or I somehow screwed it up without realizing it, because there’s no way it was supposed to taste like it did. And if I did make it right, then I hope everyone from 1588 responsible for creating this monstrosity is still licking a chamber pot in Hell.
Holiday Spirit: Cindy Lou Hoo
I had no idea wassail was a drink before doing this. Is it common knowledge? I totally missed it. I’d heard that song about going a-wassailing before, but I just figured it was the kind of gibberish you put into songs when you don’t know what else to say, kind of the way Robin Thicke does things.
It turns out that wassail is what you’re supposed to give to carolers. I think back in the day, caroling was just a scam made up by the destitute to get free shit from neighbors. Anyway, my recipe called for a slow cooker. My wassail was made from apple cider, cranberry juice, and assorted spices that are exactly the same as all the other spices everyone uses at Christmas — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, shit like that. Then you put some cloves in oranges, heat that shit up, and add brandy. Not too shabby, right? Right!
For a fun change of pace, wassail didn’t taste like boot nectar. It tasted like someone juiced an apple pie, and that’s not terrible. With the added brandy, it still tasted like someone juiced an apple pie, but with an aftertaste that said, “Hey, we’re going to be hungover for work tomorrow.”
I can’t say I have much of a fondness for warm, alcoholic apple juice (this would have been better over ice), but I’m not an 18th-century Englishman up to his hose-clad nuts in snow singing about the Lord on my neighbor’s lawn either, so there’s probably some perspective we need to keep. All things being equal, wassail isn’t half bad.
Holiday spirit: Sexy Mrs. Claus
#2. Unspiced Eggnog
Nothing says Christmas like eggnog, or so the shelves of eggnog at the store would have us believe. It’s like drinking cake. If this stuff were really good, we’d drink it all year. I can’t say that I’m a fan, purely because it has the mouth feel of milk that someone put on sugary cereal, drank, held in their mouth for a long while, and then spit back into the carton. I invite you to think of that the next time you have a mouthful of ‘nog.
I had to double down on the ‘nog this year because I doubled down on rum. I didn’t know what kind of rum you’re supposed to put in it (my recipe didn’t say), so I bought both spiced rum and white rum, just to ensure I maximized my chances at vomiting .
My first go-around was with the white rum. Would Captain Morgan lead me astray? The man was a pirate, and so was Johnny Depp, and he’s absolutely charming, so this should have been great. Sadly, by this time in the evening, after consuming what I’m guessing was maybe 10-12 shots worth of booze, plus a can of cider, a beer, and a little pre-article party I’d had, my brain was not on my side any longer, and was getting sloppy. To wit: I neglected to mix my drink. I poured both substances in one cup — I just didn’t mix them. So I had ‘nog with a solid layer of rum on top.
Rum-topped eggnog is not an entirely enjoyable beverage when you’re not expecting it, and it kind of sours you on the idea altogether. I tried to mix it afterwards, but I think I just drank the whole shot first, and the result was just virgin ‘nog. I was so discombobulated by this turn of events that I went for the spiced rum next.
Holiday Spirit: The Grinch’s dog
#1. Spiced Eggnog
The spiced rum I bought was called Kraken, and I bought it solely to say “release the Kraken” as I poured it, which I did, every single time. I recommend you a buy a bottle at your earliest convenience, as not only can you say that, but it was actually good stuff. My spiced rum ‘nog was the smoothest drink I’d had all night. A Christmas miracle! It took that eggnog and my ambivalence towards it and said, “Tony, it’s time to get funky” in a bit of a Barry White voice. I drank three.
It’s safe to say I was pretty drunk at this point. As I write this nearly a day later, I can recall eating Taco Bell along with my ‘nog, watching Maleficent, and thinking this may have been the best night of my life. It wasn’t, but it seemed like it at the time.
Holiday spirit: Kumar when he got that Waffle Bot
Putting a Bow on It:
I think it’s clear who the winners here are — you go get yourself some brandy and spiced rum and whip up wassail and ‘nog for your friends this Christmas. Wait for someone to mention hot buttered rum, and then bury them in the yard. Those who want mulled wine can be locked in the cellar until their screams grow hoarse and weary.
Merry Christmas to everyone, unless you don’t celebrate Christmas, in which case I’m sorry to hear that you hate joy and fun.