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Last year Em and I made a bowl of punch to bring to Family Christmas. We bought some decent brandy. We painstakingly prepared an oleo sacrum of demerara sugar and lemon zest. We used good water and grated fresh, whole nutmeg over the top before we set little glass mugs next to my parents’ big, crystal punch bowl (probably a wedding present). It was nice. It flopped.

Okay, it didn’t totally flop — it was gone by the end of the day. Yet had I really thought it through, I would have saved the punch for another day. It’s not that my relatives didn’t appreciate the effort, but when there are fifteen people in the room and four pounds of peel-and-eat shrimp lounging icily next to a battalion of black-olive penguins wearing red-pepper scarves, who has the bandwidth to appreciate an old English punch recipe? “Who knows — one of Trepky’s concoctions. It’s good — try it. Hey, do you think Grandpa will sing 'Silver Bells' this year like he always does?” You get the idea.

So what pairs well with kielbasa and Molson Canadian and Marcy, Margie, and Marlene all wearing coordinated sweater dresses? There are only two types of options I think: classic or on-the-nose.

A classic option would be mulled cider or eggnog or something in this vein. The Burl Ives School, let’s call it. We’ll do eggnog next week. Make sure you have an extra belt notch available.

Conversely, we have The TBS-A-Christmas-Story-Marathon School. This option is directly on-the-nose (and a glowing red one, to be sure). At least in the social sense, American Christmas is not a subtle holiday and we’re gonna embrace that exuberance with this reindeer sweater of a drink.

Santa’s Little Helper:

1 bottle (750 mL) Spirits
6-8 candy canes

Get a box of candy canes, the classic red and white variety, and a bottle of booze. Vodka is simple and works here, but brandy or bourbon would work well too. Pour yourself a shot to clear out a little room in the bottle (Merry Christmas!) and stuff in the candy canes. Re-cap the bottle and let it sit for a few hours, shaking once in a while to help everything dissolve. Tie a festive ribbon around the neck of the bottle, and pour it out for holiday shots; mix it up with a little club soda for a candy cane sprits; or pour some in your hot cocoa.

That’s it. It’s fun, it’s easy, people like it, and the mustard matches the hotdog, so to speak. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Have fun out there, you jolly gents.

Drink well.

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