Holiday drinks, much like candy canes and pfeffernusse cookies, have only survived as long as they have because humanity spends eleven months each year forgetting how disgusting they are. We allowed barely edible seasonal treats to gain traction in our culture because we tricked ourselves into thinking we enjoy them. Our sense of taste and smell is so closely tied to fond holiday memories and the serotonin rush of getting free shit that now we can chew our way through quarts of eggnog each December while sincerely believing it tastes like anything other than pure punishment.
"I want to hurt you."
And that's fine. Tradition, even when it's torture, is still tradition. But for anyone out there who is new to drinking this holiday season and doesn't have nostalgia wrapped up in cocktails made of chicken embryo, I'm creating this guide with you in mind. It's for your sake that I intend to make and ingest every awful festive cocktail I can find online and offer an objective review of each, in real time. I have already been to the grocery store as well as the liquor store and a pile of ingredients is waiting in my kitchen. I'm doing it in part because I hope the cycle of frothy whiskeys and warm chocolate wines will end with you, and also because I have to write a column on Christmas Eve and my only recourse against our Editor in Chief is to write it drunk.
Merry Christmas, Jack. This one is for you.
#1. Feel Like Holiday
* Grenadine Syrup
I'm warming up with something simple. There are only three ingredients here and two of them will hopefully be working together. Carbonated drinks absorb through the stomach faster than non-carbonated, so really the champagne is sneaking vodka in through the backdoor to my bloodstream. The grenadine makes this drink look pretty innocuous by coloring the whole thing a pale shade of pink. Still, there's no way this drink was invented by anyone other than a panicked drunk with limited options. Even the name sounds like a grammatical accident, unless of course it's a command, ordering me to feel like a holiday must feel, which c'mon, is clearly drunk logic.
OK, bad start. Already off to a bad start. I think champagne and vodka might be natural enemies. They have clearly had a fight to the death in my glass because all I can taste is the corpse of something doused in sugar. Part of the problem might be that I didn't have time to chill the vodka or the champagne but the whole thing is a warm, syrupy mess with subtle notes of nail polish remover. To the Feel Like Holiday's credit, the more of it I drink, the less startlingly bad it seems. This is particularly true when I skip the tasting portion and just swallow as much as I can at once, which, now that I think about it, may be the reason so many holiday parties rely on miserable drinks like this one.
#2. Scotch Holiday Sour
* Scotch Whiskey
* Cherry Brandy
* Sweet Vermouth
* Lemon Juice
* Slice of Lemon
I don't have any cherry brandy because my local liquor store doesn't cater to 72 year old woman. I was able to Frankenstein some together with regular brandy and the grenadine from the last drink. Mixing all the other ingredients in, the Scotch Holiday Sour looks like something I would intentionally consume. In fact, it looks cool and refreshing, which is exactly what you'd want after a steamy day out in the December heat, I would imagine.
Not as refreshing as I had anticipated. You'd think with all the other ingredients piled in there, something would cut the smokiness of the scotch, but you would be wrong. Maybe it's supposed to be reminiscent of the smell of a wood fireplace on a cold day but it honestly tastes like hard lemonade stirred with a lit cigarette. The vermouth and the brandy aren't doing it any favors either, and I think that might be partially the grenadine's fault. Scotch just doesn't go well with fruit, or sweet things, or really anything other than ice and tweed jackets. Even at the last drink when ice cubes were hitting me in the face this cocktail never got any more palatable. There are very few cocktails that announce with such clarity, "I am made of toxins and you shouldn't be drinking me."
#3. Frosty Noggin
* Creme de Cacao
* Vanilla Ice Cream
There's no way someone drinks these earnestly. The rum makes the ice cream curdle immediately and disintegrate into bubbles of dairy that float on the surface and cling to the walls of the glass. There are also particles of either eggnog or ice cream settling at the bottom and a big expanse of pure liquor in the middle. It's possible that this would have come out better in a blender but after mixing it with just a spoon I can earnestly say that it looks like someone threw up in a glass. The good news is that a single serving is the equivalent of a meal. It's over a thousand calories and 145% of the daily recommendation for saturated fat. I imagine at least half of that is in the stagnant skin over the top.
It's actually pretty delicious, I didn't anticipate it being this good. If I drink it fast enough, I get a little of everything at once and all the flavors go well together. Consistency-wise, it still feels like a dare inside my mouth. It has the same feel and chew as cold, watery ketchup and my body immediately wanted to reject it out of habit. I also had a precarious moment at the end when the foam was the last thing to seep out of the glass and it tasted like spicy milk, something my body has also been taught over the last twenty nine years to refuse. I managed to get it all down and now I feel the same kind of full I get after eating fast food: regret-full. Ha! (Probably should delete this later.)
#4. Hot Holiday Punch
* Egg Yolks
* Warmed Milk
No. No way. I thought for sure the recipe must be wrong but several different websites agree this is a real thing people deliberately put inside themselves. Incidentally, if you didn't click on that last link, it leads to a website for dealing with newborns and now I'm jealous that I didn't think of a drinking website for parents first. Also a little depressed. I have such great ideas but I never follow through on them. I'm always doing this.
It's called Hot Holiday Punch but I'm privately suspicious that it was invented by someone who doesn't know what any of those words mean. To the touch, this drink is tepid at best, and if I had to guess what the opposite of fruit was, I would probably go with dairy. I don't think anyone would choose to dri-
Wait. Go back to that website for a second.
Holy shit, I can't tell whether I'm supposed to feed this to a baby or not. The Age field at the top says, "Baby." That's mistake right? There's no way babies can have eggs. This website is awful. I really should have thought of it first.
"Who the hell has my keys!? No, JK, I'm a mess."
Finally, a warm drink. It's good, I'm pretty sure. Or maybe my taste buds have finally accepted that this is just our life now, forever. Aside from the ugly taste of the yolks and the hot milk, and the sugar, this is delicious. I would even serve it at a party minus the miserable ingredients. As it stands, I barely want to throw up with each drink so I guess that's something. I bet babies would love this shit. They'll drink whatever you put in front of them. If you don't believe me , try it. Try it.