Stumbling Through The Snow

Greg Libby SWQ Holiday 2013

It’s 12:48 a.m. Rochester time. After circling the airport in the sky for the last 45 minutes due to horrible weather conditions, the plane touches down. You wake the elderly gentleman next to you who has been sawing lumber for the last hour just in time to wait another half hour to exit the aircraft. You help the elderly gentleman with his baggage, leave behind the shrieking baby three rows behind who is still shrieking, wave goodbye to the poor flight attendant who has to turn around and do it all over again, and you’re off the plane. The terminal greets you with a warm Muzak version of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”; you’re “home.”

The parents have sent your siblings to pick you up.

Hugs. Kisses.

“How was the flight?”

“I need a f#*king drink.”

And we’re off…

Here is a list, in no particular order, of my favorite holiday beverages. Not all of them are holiday related; they all just seem to surface around this time of year. And I drink them all.

We at the Tap and Mallet look forward to the arrival of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, a seasonal India Pale Ale, every year. While Celebration is available, we make a special exception to our rotating draft line policy by dedicating a single draft line to this beer and this beer only. The staff drinks as much of it as the customers. It’s that good. Victory Storm King Stout is perfect for a cold winter night. Throw this dark, rich, potent beer into a snifter and let it warm up a little bit before you enjoy it by the fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, then you can always just set something on fire and enjoy the beer. Delirium Noel is a spicy Belgian Christmas brew - dark, smooth, and weighs in at 10% ABV. A bottle of this will have you feeling nice and toasty. Don’t forget our local breweries’ seasonal offerings. Always support and drink local. There’s no shortage of craft breweries in our area that do great stuff. Standouts include Naked Dove’s Nice & Naughty Xmas Ale and Three Heads Brewing’s Amalgamation, the latter not being a holiday themed beer but has just been released in time to induce some holiday cheer. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA makes the list because I always look forward to me and my brother (a California resident who lives just miles away from the brewery) throwing a 12-pack of this in the snow and drinking all of it before we start in with the liquor.

I always look forward to the temperature dropping below 60 degrees. This is my excuse to drink way too many of my personal favorite cocktail, the Jack Daniels Manhattan. It’s just a rocks glass with Jack Daniels, two drops of sweet vermouth, ice, and a cherry. Done.

Need something simpler? Basil Hayden’s Bourbon. Neat. Done. Sensing a theme here? Or you could go to Lux and order a hot cider with your spirit of choice. I like Jameson in mine. I like whiskey.

Ever since I was a kid, we would split our Christmases between our two parents' households. As long as I can remember, everyone out at my dad's house would look forward to his wife Linda's "Home Made Baileys." I couldn't wait until I turned 21 to get a bottle of my own. Turns out I had to put in 8 more years beyond 21 of running back and forth to the garage and up and down the basement stairs for various things before I would get a bottle of my own. Why? Because she's evil. Not really. Love you, Linda.

The Wicked Stepmother Linda Libby’s Homemade Irish Cream (I can’t believe she’s letting me publish her recipe. You’re welcome.)
  • 1-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz Canadian whiskey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp coconut extract
  • 2 tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp freeze-dried coffee (optional)
Blend in a blender, refrigerate, and shake well before use.


And a good use for this Homemade Irish Cream is the Frozen White Russian, a dessert drink for all you Lebowskiphiles out there. Blend 2 parts Vodka, 2 parts Irish Cream, 1 part Kahlua, some chocolate Syrup and few scoops of vanilla ice cream in a blender and serve.

And now, for those of you who brought home what you thought was a brand new plasma TV and Blu-Ray combo at last call and awoke to a crappy pair of socks that you already wore a few years ago, a couple of hangover cures:

  • Milk Thistle – Take one of these herbal supplements before you hit the bars and wake up the next day feeling more like a champion and less like a failure.
  • Emergen-C – While most people take this in the throws of flu season paranoia, I find chugging this vitamin punch after a night of serious drinking will improve an otherwise dismal day before it even starts.
  • Quit your complaining and have a Bloody Mary.

And with that I bid you all a happy holiday season full of food, drink, merriment, and more drink.

Oh and get a cab, you dumbass. You’re drunk.