But for your New Year's party, do you really want to offer just another glass of champagne (we're sorry, sparkling wine) on a night that is ushering in the exciting and new? Well now you don't have to.
We asked five area bartenders to create an original cocktail that you can re-create at your own holiday party.
Each of these cocktails is made with a $20-or-less bottle of "champagne," so they won't break your party budget.
1. Ukon. This is what the Japanese call turmeric. It’s the stuff that makes curry yellow, and it tastes exactly like dirt. I drink it as a tea every day because they say it’s good for the liver and because I apparently like the taste of dirt. But nobody else does, probably because they’ve got taste buds, so I can’t really recommend it as a refreshment. Anyway, the Japanese consume masses of the stuff as a hangover preventative and cure, in tea, capsules, and these little aluminum cans called Ukon no Chikara. I’ve tried it in every form over the years and I can say with great confidence that it has absolutely no effect whatsoever upon a hangover. Zero. If anything, it might even make it a bit worse. Anyway, I still drank a big cup of it, I don’t know why. Tiny reindeer.
2. Shijimi Miso soup. This is miso soup with lots of little clams that are supposed to be restorative and good for the liver. Why mini clams would benefit your liver, and not, say, your appendix I’ve no idea, but whatever. I mean, when is a hot cup of broth not good for a hangover? Never. So it’s good, is what I mean. It’ll make you feel about one percent better. So maybe if you drank like a hundred cups of the stuff, you’d be cured. Actually, you’d probably be literally cured from all the salt, but anyway, it’s not terrible, so I drank a steaming cupful.
3. Shichimi. This is seven-spice powder. A lot of countries associate spicy foods with hangover cures, and Japan is no different. I think theoretically if you ate enough shichimi, your body’s natural endorphins would kick in to block the searing pain in your mouth and thus your hangover, but it never seems to work out that way. Anyway, it tastes good in shijimi miso soup, and it won’t make you feel any worse, so that’s almost a plus.
4. Umeboshi. These are pickled plums. They’re super tart and salty and taste approximately like somebody tried to cross a peach with an olive. They do nothing for a hangover though. But they’re not horrible, so I ate a couple.
5. Pocari Sweat. This is just Japanese Gatorade with a hilarious name. It’s pretty much useless for a hangover, but it’ll get your kidneys back online, so that’s a good thing, I guess. I drank half a bottle and laid on the cold floor for a bit.
6. Persimmons. These are called kaki in Japanese, I guess because Japanese people like to give food hilarious names. Kaki are deep orange and shiny and look like they should taste really good, but actually they don’t. Japanese folks say they’re beneficial for a hangover, but actually they’re not. What they are is like eating a really old apple. I guess maybe if they make you hurl up some booze that’s a good thing, but otherwise they’re worthless. I ate a few bites of dried kaki along with some more Pokari Sweat and felt decidedly worse. Then I laid on the floor some more.
7. A couple of Alka-Seltzer that you brought from the United States like six years ago. Okay, this isn’t even remotely Japanese but it does actually have a positive effect, probably because it’s freaking medicine and not some leftover thing Japanese granny had lying around her kitchen. It can make your hangover go from deathly horrible to plain horrible, and even then you’ll still feel like you’re dying, but at least it’s better than trying to snarl down a persimmon.
Most of the time I'm perfectly happy drinking my bourbon on the rocks (or on the whiskey stones).
But sometimes I want to dress it up a bit so I can feel fancy. Here are ten bourbon cocktails that are perfect for New Year's Eve. Some are simple and some are complex, but if ever there were an appropriate time to pull out your A game it would be New Year's Eve.
This Tequila is for you whisky lovers out there (and anyone who appreciates a truly finely made spirit). 1942 has a very rich nose with sweet agave, oak, cocoa, brûlée sugar, and caramel corn. The palate is full of rich flavor – sweet fruit, vanilla, oak spices, cinnamon, chocolate, almond, orange citrus and a vegetal dirtiness that I really love. A very lingering finish with agave, salt, cocoa powder and butterscotch. This is a pricey bottle but it’s delicious, complex, refined and a clear example of Tequila standing up to Scotch in the highest regard. 92 Points
You should be able to find this Tequila in the range of $100 – $120. It also comes in a beautiful bottle that probably won’t fit in your cabinet but it will look really cool sitting on your bar.
The festive season is in full swing and, despite our best intentions; we will probably all be getting a bit woozy of an evening. Unfortunately, unless you are one of the few lucky ones, that also means hanging in the morning.
In order to combat the inevitable dry mouth, dizziness and nausea, we have looked up a few alternative hangover cures for you to try. If the hair of the dog, water and fry-up solutions don’t work for you – give one of these a shot.
1: As a preventative measure, rub a slice of lemon under your armpits before you start drinking. Apparently the Puerto Ricans swear by this. We’re guessing that it helps with B.O. too. Perfect for those lengthy stints on the dance floor.
2: Russians swear by rassol. This is essentially salty water that has been used to boil cabbage. Make sure to boil those cabbages in advance. You don’t want to be messing around with kettles on New Year’s Day.
3: Wanna do as the Romans did? Pliny the Elder (an expert on all matters) recommended deep-frying a canary and eating it whole. Good luck on finding a canary at your local supermarket – probably best to get down to the pet shop.
4: Heading further south, the Sicilians swore by chewing on dried bull penis as a hangover cure. Each to their own…
5: If you want to be a bit hipster and try a vintage method, take laxatives before bed. We’re not sure how this is meant to help but you should try everything once, right?
6: The Scots love a ceilidh accompanied by lashings of alcohol. No wonder their cure is called The Highland Fling. It is a concoction consisting of a pint of buttermilk mixed with cornflour, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Och aye, sounds rather tasty.
7: Similarly, the New Zealand method is quite delectable: mince and cheese pie with chocolate milk. Mmmm.
8: Less delicious is the pellet tea inspired by hungover Wild West cowboys. It’s exactly what it sounds like: rabbit droppings in hot water.
9: People often feel brave when they still have alcohol in their system, so if your inhibitions are still hovering somewhere out of the window, try the Mongolian-inspired cure of pickled sheep’s eyes mixed with tomato juice.
10: Finally, if you’re in the mood to try out some voodoo, employ the Haitian method of sticking 13 black pins into the cork of the bottle of alcohol that caused your hangover. Avoid your thumbs, especially if you’re still inebriated.
So pervasive was drunkenness in 1787—and the lives of our Framers of the Constitution—that Benjamin Franklin compiled a list of 228 synonyms for it, which is more than an Inuit has for snow. He’s Fishey. Groadable. Nimtopsical. He’s contending with Pharaoh. And my favorite: He’s Been at Barbadoes, which must have been a hell of a tavern.
Franklin might have been describing James Madison, father of the Constitution, who drank a pint of whiskey every day.
Or Constitutional delegate John Adams, who began each of his days with a whole draft of hard cider—“imbibing with the birds,” they called it.
Or he could have been referring to the entire Continental Army. George Washington gave four ounces of the hard stuff to the soldiers he commanded along with their daily ration, insisting that “the benefits arising from moderate use of strong Liquor have been experienced in all Armies, and are not to be disputed.”
In the decades after the Founding, liquor flowed so freely it became cheaper than tea.
In the first few years of the 1790s, the per capita consumption of alcohol grew to two and a half times greater than it was even in the decade before Prohibition.
From the outset of the Founding, we were already becoming the “alcoholic republic” our English foremothers always worried we become. (Even John Winthrop, the English lawyer who brought his fellow settlers to Massachusetts to form a new colony, carried with them a boatload of beer and wine—a liver-whopping ten thousand gallons, in fact—to drink along the way as they traveled across the Atlantic. They may have been Puritans, but they weren’t prudes.)
But it was the men in Independence Hall during the summer of 1787 who really took the cake, especially if it was drenched in bourbon. If they had been celebrating Christmas last week, I’d guess the Framers wouldn’t have put rum in their eggnog; they’d have put egg nog in their rum. And then complained that it tasted “too noggy.”
In the decades after the Founding, liquor flowed so freely in became less expensive than tea.
Madison, who sat at the front of the room hiding his flask, was just the beginning. It was the other delegates at the writing of the Constitution who truly hit the hard stuff. The most tenacious tippler was Luther Martin, a man “of medium height…near-sighted, absent-minded, shabbily attired, harsh of voice…with a face crimsoned by the brandy which he continually imbibed.” Martin showed up drunk so often he became known as the “wild man” of the convention, and when he stood, red-faced, to give one of his usual six-hour speeches the other delegates often knew to tune out. This is a man who once stumbled out into the streets of Baltimore and, when he bumped into the backside of a cow—mistaking it for a woman—he bowed deeply, and apologized to the cow. Now that’s drunk.
As a lawyer, Martin was a valued asset in the convention—when sober. And when his fellow “states men” noticed how passionately he opposed the Virginia Plan that would shift power away from the states, they took a risk and selected him to attack it. They needed a lawyer to give the closing argument of a lifetime. What they got was, in the evocate words of Ben Franklin, a “Prince Eugene” who had “eaten a Pudding Bagg.” Yet he had a hand in the Constitution we know today—one that is a product of passionate debates on both sides, even if those fiery arguments were the product of liquid courage.
Almost all the Framers imbibed. Most didn’t just drink beer, they drank beer for breakfast. They had an excuse; beer was safer than water. They’d tell you they didn’t have a drinking problem, they had a drinking solution. But the fact remains, they drank beer for breakfast.
While writing the Constitution.
Don’t believe any claims they weren’t binge-drinkers and were just letting off a little steam—again, and I can’t stress this enough, they did so while delicately crafting our basic system of laws. After they finished the four months of drunken civic-mindedness, the 55 men who were about to sign the document piled into Philadelphia’s City Tavern on Friday, September 14, 1787 and guzzled enough booze to fell a stack of elephants: 60 bottles of claret, 54 bottles of Madeira, 50 bottles of “old stock,” vats of porter, cider, and beer, and what has been described as “some” bowls of rum punch. So raucous did the celebration get that City Tavern took the unusual step of sending along a bill for “breakage.” The first step is admitting you have a problem, guys.
To some the following may hard to swallow: Our Constitution was written by men who owned breweries and imported whiskey—fine businesses both—but also imbibed those products to an astounding degree, and then humped cows in the streets. The amount of staggering was staggering.
I like to imagine that’s one reason they call the central tenet of the Constitution the “great compromise.” The men writing it were greatly compromised.
I’ll leave it to others to determine whether that drunkenness shows up in the vital American document—although they did misspell “Pensylvania” and they did keep slavery intact for two decades. So there’s that.
They started the tab; as a country, we have simply, and certainly, continued it. When Prohibition came and went, we were so adamant that we be able to keep drinking, we were willing to repeal one of the few amendments this country has ever seen— the only amendment ever to be repealed, by the way. And when it was, FDR was asked when was going to do next. “I think this would be a good time for a beer,” he said.
But I think the most indicative proof that we the people are we the drinkers is this: the deciding state to ratify the Twenty-First Amendment and repeal Prohibition—the state that could have kept us dry—was Utah. A state that won’t even drink caffeine.
Of course Prohibition wouldn’t last. As might have been pointed out by Thomas Jefferson—a man who made rye whiskey, yet still managed to spell “injuries and usurpations” in his letter to King George declaring independence—it’s not really about the alcohol. It’s about free will. It’s about unalienable rights to life and liberty. It’s about, in Jefferson’s words, “the pursuit of happiness,” via the pursuit of hoppiness.
They didn't call Mesopotamia the Fertile Crescent for nothing. Around 6,000 years ago, records suggest that the Tigris-Euphrates river valley was full of party animals -- party animals whose libation of choice was beer. The Babylonians also exported beer to Egypt, making some of us wonder whether it was beer instead of aliens that got the pyramids built. Today, beer is made in almost every country in the world; in the United States alone, we consume 20 gallons per capita of the stuff annually. It was only a matter of time before beer found its way into cocktails.
According to Jacob Grier, lead bartender at the Hop and Vine in Portland, Ore., who's writing a book on beer cocktails titled Cocktails on Tap, "Mixing spirits and beer is a tradition that goes back centuries, but aside from Boilermakers and a few other simple drinks, it's become something of a lost art. With the rise of craft brewing in the United States, the great variety of spirits now available, and creative bartenders looking for new drink ideas, it's no surprise that the practice is coming back."
And coming back strong. Beer cocktails have been popping up on menus all across Los Angeles, in what might be our favorite booze trend of 2013 -- and maybe well into 2014.
When it comes to port, gone are the days of gentlemen adjourning from a dinner table and settling into a smoking room to enjoy a cigar and a delicate, thimble-sized glass of the centuries-old dessert wine.
Although we're seeing a fair amount of attention for both the ruby and tawny versions on fine-dining wine menus, the latest trend is port cocktails.
The first thing to understanding port is becoming familiar with the two styles.
There's either the bold, fruity intensity of a young ruby port — the kind that pairs well with rich chocolate desserts or berries on ice cream — or there's tawny port, which displays a more complex style of barrel aging and nuanced flavors that bring new life to nut-based desserts and strong cheese, such as aged cheddar and Stilton.
Distilling in this part of the world has been established for nearly as long as in China (see the story on Asia for those facts) and it has produced some pretty phenomenal results from various fruit-based distillates through to everyone’s top bar tool, vodka.
The history of vodka is a pretty lengthy affair, with the roots of this great spirit hotly contested between Russia and Poland.
For centuries, vodka has been a staple drink in every bar and household around the world.
A pure, crystal clear spirit, its history is considerably cloudier, being hugely symbolic in the development of eastern Europe over the last several hundred years.
Today, vodka is the driver for many of the world’s biggest liquor makers, with the global market for the spirit being the largest there is: accounting for 20% of all spirits sold.
The market leader is the ubiquitous and much-trusted Smirnoff Red, of which a bottle is apparently purchased every two seconds.
So large is the vodka category that over 30 countries around the world now make the spirit.
Therefore, it would require a book, not an issue, to tell the full history of the spirit from a worldwide perspective.
Far easier is to look at what is widely known as the “Vodka Belt”, an area that runs across the chilly farming lowlands to the north-east of Europe and into Scandinavia.
But who has the right to call their spirit “vodka”?
This question has been asked officially in the courtrooms of the European Union, on two notable occasions.
The first of these so-called “vodka wars” happened in the late 1970s, when the Soviet Union and Poland decided they each held the exclusive rights to label their brands “vodka”.
With both countries having useful historical texts to prove their side of the argument, it was concluded that, no matter how far back the records went, there was nothing conclusive to show rights to either country.
The matter ended in a draw, with both sides keeping hold of their right to having invented vodka.
What we do know is that it is almost certain the term “vodka” can be traced back to the Slavic word “woda” that means water.
We know this from old Polish court documents from 1405, where reference was made to the word.
But it was nearly two decades later before these countries found themselves on the same side, after a European Commission proposal to bring in different categories of vodka.
Under threat from new vodka brands, such as Ciroc (made from grapes) as well as other offering made from other fruit products, the traditional countries of the Vodka Belt came together to argue that only a spirit made from potatoes, cereal or molasses could be classed as vodka.
It took a German, Horst Schnellhardt, to devise a compromise in the courtrooms of Europe, stating that a spirit produced from anything other than potatoes, cereal and molasses sugar beet should be labelled as “vodka made from...”
So next time you see a bottle of vodka in Europe, read the label closely, as it could reveal something interesting to you.
Feeling green around the gills from overindulging?
This medicinal shot from Italy – and its variations – will sort you out
On day three, I emerged for breakfast distinctly green around the gills. Fergus pulled a bottle of brown, bitter liqueur from his pocket and poured me a shot. Fergus tends to use words sparingly because of his Parkinson's disease, but he is one of the clearest communicators I have ever met. "Try it!" he urged, and with one hand traced the imminent internal journey of the drink – warming the throat, soothing the belly, bouncing back up and splashing over the liver. And then a shake of the whole body and a large satisfied smile. I downed the shot, and that is exactly what happened.
What a twisted, wonderful cookbook “Winter Cocktails” is. Oh, it has your mulled ciders and eggnogs. But you can find those anywhere.
A Golden Hog cocktail garnished with bacon is what this golden age of drinks is all about. And “Winter Cocktails,” written by Maria del Mar Sacasa and photographed by Tara Striano (Quirk Books, $22.95), is on board.
Along the way, the author explains why making your own juices is better than buying a bottle or can.
“The fruit will break down and froth exquisitely, and nothing compares to its freshness.”
Of course, no drink deserves to be served alone so there are party snacks and other fare to go with the clever cocktails and classic drink recipes.
The apparent benefits of drinking wine may not be in the wine at all.
People who opt for a glass of wine after work may already be smarter, happier and more well adjusted than their beer-drinking friends, researchers suggest.
The findings indicate that people who choose wine over beer may have certain traits that explain the apparent health benefits of wine described in previous studies, according to researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
At last, we’ve found another excuse (actually, 10 excuses) to have vodka in the house at all times. Not only is it the prime component of our favourite cocktails, but it can actually be used for everything from first aid and cleaning to beauty and bathing.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 clever ways to use vodka. Bottoms up!
Belvedere Vodka, the world's first super premium vodka, announces the launch of its first ever laser cut bottle with LED technology, the Belvedere Silver Saber.
The Silver Saber will be available in 1.75L bottles and in select markets this holiday season with the official launch in February 2014.
The bottle is engineered to illuminate for over eight hours and is also waterproof so that it can be properly placed in an ice bucket.
Throughout 2013 Belvedere Vodka was awarded 23 medals and trophies, including five gold medals for Belvedere Citrus, Belvedere Unfiltered and Belvedere Vodka plus an overall Master for Belvedere Unfiltered from the Vodka Masters.
Currently, Belvedere Vodka is the most awarded vodka throughout the history of the Vodka Masters. Belvedere Vodka has also received two trophies from the International Spirits Challenge and seven gold medals from TheFiftyBest.com.