They drink, the saying goes, when times is good … and they drink even more when times is tough. As our economic slump continues, fiscal belt-tightening abounds. Nevertheless, you have a duty as a drinker — nay, a tippler's mandate — to cavort and cocktail right on into the economic apocalypse. To help you maintain your lush ways even amid these lean, dry months, we've assembled some no-nonsense tips for maximizing your BAC (blood alcohol content) without taxing the ATM.
These two words bring to mind drink specials and free hot wings, but when you're short on dough, even $2 PBRs can add up. Hence, the at-home Happy Hour. For the price of four Can Can martinis, you and your lovely can splurge on top-shelf gin or vodka, a bottle of Vya vermouth and a jar of gourmet olives as you enjoy the fixings for a dozen domestic martinis — and you don't even have to tip. To ratchet up the fun, make a standing date with friends/neighbors and rotate hosts. Those with tots get the double bonus of earning a buzz and saving scratch on a babysitter.
You've got to eat. And chances are, that once-in-a-while aversion to cooking will nag you into making reservations. Presuming you don't want to skimp on entrées, one way to lighten the bill is by dialing back the booze. Wine with dinner is still a must, but ixnay the pre-meal ocktail-cay by shaking one at home first. Restaurateurs might not appreciate this advice, but hey, at least you're stepping out for a bite. (Note: This is not an excuse to hit the sauce and the gas pedal with unusual vigor.)
Barring a holiday from your social life, you'll be entertaining guests this season. Unless those friends are teetotalers, you'll need to fill their cups with something more potent than Christmas cheer. In lieu of flinging the liquor-cabinet doors wide open, limit your offerings to a couple of signature cocktails. Assign your creations festive names, and all of a sudden no one's asking where the 18-year-old Scotch is hiding. For instance, a splash of pomegranate juice in a flute of bubbly turns ordinary sparkling wine into red-hued Poinsettia Punch. Or add a restrained touch of crème de menthe to a bit of whiskey and simple syrup and call your abbreviated julep a Mistletoe Cocktail. Some savings from a scaled-back bar should be invested in once-a-year delicacies (blood oranges, persimmons, kumquats) and stylish accessories (handsome stir-sticks, themed stemware). If things are really tight, save the $3.95 cover price by tearing this page out of the magazine. [Editor's note: Please ignore our would-be Abbie Hoffmans and buy the magazine.]
Casey Brynildsen, the fetching bartendress at Buckhead's Restaurant & Chop House, has introduced two cocktails for the blustery season that you may or may not be able to replicate at home.
Peppermint Bark Martini
Lighter than expected, it smells like chocolate-dipped candy canes and finishes with minty coolness.
2 ounces of Stoli Vanil
1 ounce of White Crème de Cacao
1 ounce of White Crème de Menthe
Splash of half and half
Shake and strain into a martini glass rimmed with crushed candy canes and garnished with chocolates.
This creamy, frothy, wintry drink is dusted with cinnamon.
2 ounces of Level vodka
Splash of cream
1/2 ounce of ginger syrup*
Shake ingredients and strain into a cinnamon-rimmed cocktail glass.
*To create your ginger syrup, combine 2 cups of simple syrup, 4 tablespoons of whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons of ground nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a simmer, turn off the heat and let sit for 20 minutes. To finish, strain and cool.