Stay toasty, get toasted
life, too, is often a mechanical oppression, and liquor is the only
mechanical relief.” — Hemingway
So, February. What is there to do this month, truly, aside from
getting blitzed while waiting for the weather to clear? Morally
sticky though it may be to advocate crawling inside a bottle until
cherry blossom season arrives, let us be honest – there’s
really nothing else going on these days. Submitted for your approval,
then, are five drink recipes combining two things – liquor
and warmth – that may see you sanely through this final chunk
of winter …
Ingredients: sake; hot
“In general terms,” writes sake expert and Yomiuri
Shinbun columnist John Gauntner on sake-world. com, “sake
becomes dryer and more flavorful when heated, and crisper and more
aromatic at lower temperatures.” (Also, he adds, more potent.)
Tradition, however, demands you refrain from doing anything as gauche
as warming your sake in the microwave – rest the bottle in
a pan of hot water, thank you – and that you serve the stuff
at around 104û F.
Degree of Difficulty: Non-existent.
Serve With: sushi, sashimi.
TOM & JERRY
1 egg, 1 shot of rum, 1 shot of brandy,
1 tsp. sugar, warm milk
Of all the old-school holiday drink recipes (spiced
wassail, peppermint-spiked cocoa), the T & J is still the most
worthwhile. Mix the egg white with the sugar, and the yolk with
the rum and brandy. Toss it together; the milk goes in last.
Degree of Difficulty: Slight.
Serve With: a whopping slice of chocolate cake.
2 to 3 bottles of red wine, 1 bottle of rum,
1 orange peel, 3 to 5 cloves, 1 tightly-packed cup of sugar
Though the equally-German winter concoction gluwein
is also tasty at parties, nothing beats feuerzangenbowle in terms
of sheer holiday showmanship. Heat (but do not boil) the wine in
a pot; tie off the orange peel and cloves in a coffee filter and
hang inside. Place the pot on an open table. Now, put fine metal
grating over the pot, and place the sugar on top. Douse the sugar
with the rum, and set aflame. Melted sugar should drip through the
grating and into the wine in a blue-flamed blaze of glory. Showmanship!
Degree of Difficulty: Horrifying.
Serve With: sturdy sandwiches; a pat on the back
for whoever’s making it.
Shochu; hot water.
Simply cut the shochu with however much hot water
your sensibilities decide on. A recent Japan Times article noted
that shochu – sans mixers – contains nearly no calories,
can stimulate the nervous system and prevents blood clots. Moreover
(though it’s never been scientifically proven), shochu is
said to not give hangovers. Bottoms up!
Degree of Difficulty: Nominal.
Serve With: tempura; umeboshi (separately, or inside
2 shots of tequila, 2 shots of Kahlúa, tiny
amount of brandy.
“Try, try! You will like this drink,”
a short barista once exhorted some time ago in Tijuana. “You
–” grinning now, “– you will like this a
lot.” Deftly mixing the ingredients in large snifters, the
barkeep lit the concoctions on fire and urged everyone to drink
as quickly as possibly through a long straw. (But to watch out for
the fire.) Though this was first enjoyed many years back in mid-July,
considerable research has concluded that the Cockroach is also an
excellent winter drink.
Degree of Difficulty: Tricky.
Serve With: hangover medicine.
BELLY UP TO THE BAR …
Any serious attempt at holiday revelry must begin
with a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Recommendations:
The title of “best” sake is hotly contested, though
Kamoizumi (Hiroshima prefecture), Kubota (Nigata) and Juyondai (Yamagata)
appear on a lot of lists.
Ubiquitous Jose Cuervo; 1800 Tequila; or Patrón Reposado.
Gokujo Mori Izo (from Kago-shima) is regarded as one of
the absolute pinnacles, though its scarceness – the J. Times
once listed it as one of three maboroshi (“phantom”)
shochu – may instead limit your choices here to whatever’s
up for grabs at Lawson.
El Dorado, Captain Morgan or Havana Club, depending on your budget.