Critical drinking

Life of the party
002 Hotpants Criticaldrinking
Michael Hanlon
Hot Pants

Every year, right around now, the holidays begin to take up a huge portion of our lives and wallets. It’s difficult not to get overwhelmed with the expectations put forth on us all, as it seems everyone exists solely for the sake of everyone else during this time. 

Everyone has a different approach to handling it. Some of us relish this time of year as if our entire existence has been leading up to it. Others quietly accept that it is a necessity in our culture as a celebration of all that is good in our lives. And others, unfortunately, buckle completely under the pressure and lose traction around every turn. This is the person we’d all rather not be, even if we always seem to end up in those shoes. I take that back—if you actively desire the sweet release of losing articles of clothing and hearing stories about yourself you can’t recall, then I suggest you just keep on doing what you’re doing. To each his own, I say!

If, however, you seek to keep yourself in check, please continue reading—this article is for you. During this season, there will be many gatherings. At gatherings of people there will be booze. There will be overindulgence. There will be accidental overindulgence! Here are a few suggestions on how to cope:

It’s medication. Human beings, in order to more quickly slide into proper social interaction, will often take in a couple of adult soda pops. It makes the conversation a bit more interesting and loosens the lips. If we view this alcohol intake as a kind of medicine, we begin to realize that there’s a certain dose that’s effective, and past that it’s all detrimental. Consider that when you need to wake up early and get a ton of work done, you drink a cup or two of coffee. After a pot or two or three, you’re just twitchy and grumpy. When you have a headache, you take some aspirin. But you don’t go wild and take the whole bottle, right? That would just be silly. Get to your happy place and stay there!

Reverse cocktails. My go-to cocktail is a proper Manhattan or Martini variant. But I’ll rarely have more than one since they’re so darn booze heavy. Even at a 2:1 ratio of booze to vermouth, they’re quite heavy after the first. And they go down so easily. A quick trick to making a nice cocktail enjoyable for more than just one of them is to reverse the portions. If your typical martini is a bunch of gin with a little vermouth, try two parts extra dry vermouth and one part your favorite gin (or whatever is available at this holiday party). Making the drink heavy on a fortified wine reduces the amount of high proof spirit in your belly and maybe even increases how interesting your drink is. 

This of course depends on the spirits and vermouths available, but even your normal drinks vary based on that selection. if you typically like “blank and blank” drinks like vodka and soda or whiskey and soda, maybe try a fortified wine with soda. Aperitifs like sweet or dry vermouth, sherry, or port can make fabulous mixers with soda water, or even, gasp, cola. Your first few bouts with this might be failures to your palate, but it’s likely you’ll eventually find something that’s safe for you in most circumstances. 

These tidbits might help you when you have the faculties to keep them in your brain, but if all else fails at your work holiday party and your brain defaults to never having read any of this, remember this one final note: Stay Behind Your Boss(es). This is quite possibly the most important element of holiday season survival information. Never be more drunk than your boss. When all hell breaks loose and you just can’t avoid doing shots with the team, and everyone is buying you drinks because they’d like company in being wild for a night, play a game with yourself and see how much less drunk you can secretly be than they are without sacrificing having a good time. You’ll be surprised how much fun it is when you remember everything and have a productive day the next day. Then you can be the one telling everyone how crazy they were the night before while you earn yourself an extra day of productivity, or, if the gods will it, an actual day off with a clear head!

Drinking is fun. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to thoughtfully make decisions while you were buzzed or maybe even feel decent in the morning? If we’re to properly celebrate all that’s good about our lives in this beautiful world we’re lucky enough to inhabit, it only makes sense not to destroy ourselves in the process. I’m most certainly not telling you how to live your life—just trying to bring to light a few options, in case you should care to hear them. What’s the old saying? “Work smart, not hard”? Well, let’s then say that we might drink smart, not hard. Do whatever you see fit this holiday season but do it relatively safely and have fun with your friends. This is a great time of year. 

Now let’s get drunk! 


Donny Clutterbuck is the bar manager at Cure. 



A Desk Jockey: Averna

Had too much dinner at a family party, and you just can’t imagine fitting another beer into your body? Averna lives in the family of Italian bitter liqueurs. It tastes a bit like a bitter and flat cola, and will speed your digestion and function as booze and dessert—all at the same time!


Middle Management: Cocchi Americano and Soda

You’ve just arrived at a happy hour or family party, and the sun is still in the sky. You’re in the mood for a glass of water, but, more importantly, you want a martini. But hold it right there. You’ve got six hours of schmoozing left. Do the right thing and mix this gentian-bittered, fortified wine into some soda water, and bam!—you’ve got enough hydration and booze and flavor to make every friend you can. Throw an orange peel in for bonus points.


Your Corner Office: Hot Pants Cocktail

This is a treat made and served at Cure. It’s a combination of Forty Creek Canadian Whisky, Miro Extra Seco and Dolin Blanc vermouths, Fino Sherry, and Strega. Its roughly one part high-proof alcohol to two parts fortified wine, so it fits into the “backwards Manhattan” category. Colored bright purple by butterfly pea flower extract, it looks as rich as it tastes. Use this one during or post dinner, or when you need the aggression that a stiff drink provides but without the over-the-top intoxication. She’s an end-of-the-night kind of gal.

Categories: Taste