Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Advent for grownups - Week 1

I cannot take credit for this idea. This idea was suggested by my friend Chris's little girl, Wendy Darling (she is surrounded by feral boys, including my two boys, so she is Wendy Darling).

Chris was setting up the Advent calendars she'd bought for her three kids, milk chocolate-stocked jobbies from Trader Joe's (um, the calendars, not the kids), when sweet Wendy asked, "But Mom, where's your Advent calendar?" Chris replied that she wasn't really interested in grainy milk chocolate tablets in the shape of snowmen and whatevers, and so she didn't need an Advent calendar.

But Wendy still wanted her mother to share this aspect of the season. She said, "Well you could have a grownup version."

Chris put on the thinking face. "What would a grownup Advent calendar be like, do you think?"

"Well instead of chocolate, your Advent calendar could have different kinds of liquor in it!" And Chris's face turned from the thinking face to the "that's just great, my kid thinks all I do is drink" face. Which morphed into the "wonder what she tells the teacher about us" face.

Chris is still doing better than I am - I forgot about Advent calendars entirely, and now it turns out they make LEGO ones. My seven-year-old was outraged. "Why don't we have an Advil calendar?!"

And given my traditional Scroogey humbugginess, "Advil calendar" struck my fancy. Wouldn't you like an Advil calendar, filled with booze? I know I would.




So here is what you do.

Find a printer's type drawer, one with at least 24 little sections. You could paint it all Christmasy, or decoupage liquor labels to it. There could be glitter.

Tack pieces of twine across the width of the drawer. You want the twine to make little guardrails so things don't fall out of the drawer sections. You can use twine in a festive color if you want.

Go to the liquor store and buy 24 miniatures. Mission Liquors online has a good selection. Take this opportunity to sample oddities and premium brands, not the kind of things you tend to have around for your average laundry day binge.

Put the minis in the drawer sections. Drink one a day, using the recipes below, until it's Christmas Day or you are admitted to a 28-day program, whichever comes first.

Now obviously, we are starting late. Unlike with most prescriptions, you are free to double up (or even triple up) your daily doses until you're on today's date. Or stick with the one a day plan, and let Advent stretch well past the 25th. (My 365-day calendar is going to take a bit more work)


Here we go!

Wednesday, December 1: Absolut Citron 80 Proof

Let's start this project on a festive note, with the Champagne Cosmo:
1 Part ABSOLUT CITRON
1 Part Cranberry Juice
Champagne
Add ABSOLUT Citron and cranberry juice into a champagne glass. Top up with champagne.

We introduced my mom, who is not much of a drinker, to the Cosmopolitan on the weekend she and my dad were in New York City for Bob and my wedding. We took them to dinner at the Boathouse in Central Park to celebrate the fact that they'd both retired that year. Bob had a Manhattan, I had my Negroni and my brother had a Cosmo, which Mom sampled and really liked. Later, when her colleagues took her out for the same reason, she decided that for once in her life she was going to stray from the gin & tonic path and order that pretty pink thing she'd had in New York.

Reaching for the name, the word she came up with was "Continental." Close, but a totally different - totally gross - cocktail. And now she'll never try ordering anything different again. So it is incumbent upon me to mix her drinks whenever I get the chance.




Thursday, December 2: Cabana Cachaca Brazilian Rum


On the second day of xmas we try to stay classy with the Pearl Button. My god this looks good!
8 to 10 ice cubes
1/4 cup (2 ounces) cachaca
4 1/2 teaspoons (3/4 ounce) Lillet Blanc
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup (4 ounces) San Pellegrino Limonata
1/2 grapefruit wheel
Fill 10-ounce Collins or highball glass with ice. Add cachaca, Lillet Blanc, and lime juice. Top with San Pellegrino Limonata and stir briefly. Place 1/2 grapefruit wheel in drink and serve immediately.



Friday December 3: St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

I only watch broacast TV one night a year. Unless it's an Olympic year. Also, sometimes we watch Saturday Night Live. We don't have cable, so I'm not missing much. We borrow Weeds and Dexter and True Blood and Glee from the library so that we're not too culturally illiterate. So anyway, I watch the Oscars every year. Yes, I do. Don't judge. You watch real estate shows, for pete's sake! God.

Last year, I invented a slightly bitter, gorgeous cocktail to go with my night of glamour. I was channeling Glenn Close, I think (nominated 5 times, won zero). I called it the Nightmare in Pink, after one of John D. MacDonald's pulpy, noirish Travis McGee novels. They all had titles with colors in them, which I thought was really neat when I was in junior high and my dad would bring them home after reading them on long plane trips.




1 ½ part Gin
¾ part St-Germain
splash Campari
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a curl of orange peel.

There's a green version, called The Gypsy, which I didn't make up. It's also a little bitter, though less gorgeous. I would drink that watching the Grammys - nominated for seven Grammy awards, Stevie Nicks hasn't won one since Rumours was Best Album in 1977.

1½ parts Gin
¾ part St-Germain
½ part Green Chartreuse
½ part Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thinly sliced lime wheel.




Saturday, December 4: Stolichnaya Elit Ultra Luxury Russian Vodka

"I think I'll call it a Vesper."
"Because of the bitter aftertaste?"
"No, because once you've tasted it, that's all you want to drink."
Pretend you're not way behind on your Christmas shopping, slot Casino Royale into the DVD player, and drink this. It's the last chance you'll get to have a quiet, inebriated night to yourself before all holiday hell breaks loose.

The Vesper
1 part Stoli®
3 parts gin
1/2 part Lillet Blanc
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.





Sunday, December 5: Canton Ginger & Cognac Liqueur

I believe in this variation of a Dark & Stormy, with the ginger liqueur in addition to the ginger beer (Reed's is good, Barritts is better).

Darker and Stormier
ginger beer
1oz Domaine de Canton
1oz Flor de Cana Black Label Rum (or another dark aged rum)
splash of fresh lime juice
Fill a collins or high-ball glass with ice. Fill 1/2 of the way with ginger beer. Add Domaine de Canton, rum and fresh lime juice. Garnish with a lime.




Monday, December 6: Cabana Boy Wild Cherry Rum

What you don't know (maybe you do) is that Your Neighborhood Librarian goes out and whoops it up with her girlfriends Monday nights. Well. Your Neighborhood Librarian sits around with her girlfriends and bitches about her kids on Monday nights. So that's why Monday on the Advil calendar stands for shots and Scotch, and today, something called Cabana Boy Something Something.

Wow. Ok. I just looked at this one a little more closely. We're not going to drink this.

Instead... find a miniature of Cold River American Potato Vodka (it's gluten free!) and celebrate Hanukkah, drinkie style! Jews! You know I love 'em!



Hanukkah Gelt Martini

2 parts potato vodka
1 part Goldschlager

Combine in a shaker with ice, mix gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.





Tuesday, December 7: Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Ok there is NO reason to mix this very fine Bourbon with ANYTHING, but I am going to take this opportunity to throw in an eggnog recipe. It's December 7, you should have been drinking eggnog for a week or so now.

Over the years, my father, and later I, have been known to make eggnog from scratch for fancy occasions. We used our extremely classy neighbor's recipe. About as old as Jesus since the day I was born, Thelma had reportedly been a D.C. debutante as a girl and a famous beauty. She was definitely a very refined cook - made sugar cookies so thin you could read the newspaper through them. So we were very pious about her eggnog recipe.

One year my dad couldn't find Thelma's recipe. Darnit. So he used the one in Joy of Cooking. Guess what? It was exactly the same recipe. Either Irma Rombauer had ripped off Lady Thelma, or Thelma had been passing off the Joy recipe as her own for decades!

1 liter Maker's Mark bourbon
1 quart milk
1 quart heavy cream
2 dozen eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
Garnish: nutmeg

Separate eggs and beat yolks until creamy. Whip sugar into yolks. Beat whites until they stand in peaks, adding 1/2 cup additional sugar, if desired. Beat yolks and bourbon together. Add whites, beat cream. And add cream and milk to mixture. Add nutmeg to taste and garnish each cup with nutmeg.


Stay tuned - Week 2 is coming tomorrow!