Over indulgence on holiday cheer may be an even bigger hazard than the serial eating ritual we perform this time of year. The trouble with booze is that unlike food you don't get full. More than likely your appetite will increase. After all it's never the person who has too many pieces of cake that embarrasses themselves at the office party. And with social media watching our backs there's even more reason to be cautious (or maybe Facebook is just the motivation people need to keep themselves in check).
I have a unique view of this phenomenon in the wild. At Clover Club, December is party mania: We must have at least four private parties a week. After working them for three years, consistent patterns have emerged. Most groups tend to want two drinks in them as fast as they can absorb the ethanol making parties who show up en masse a guaranteed 45 minutes of sustained insanity. (Seriously, how are 40 people traveling together in New York? Did the rent a tour bus!?) Inevitably my casual observations of people's drinking morphs into mild judgment. "I just gave that guy a drink five minutes ago what did he do with it?" If I notice someone starting exceptionally fast out of the gate I'll start counting their rounds to see how far they'll push it. When the party is clearly over, they'll often be the one who makes the ill advised round of scotch order in a desperate attempt to revive it. I'm thinking "dude, you've had 10 port of calls. You do not need scotch night now." Of course I never serve people too the the point of dangerous inebriation. My job is to protect people's safety. I just wish sometimes it was to protect their dignity too.
But it's probably the house holiday parties where heavy pouring anarchy reigns free that are the most challenging to regulate. Being the designated bartender at all family events I can personally attest to this. One of my first ever experiences making cocktails for a group was pre-dinner Thanksgiving at my parents in 2008. I was so excited that people were enjoying my drinks I never even considered how much I was serving, or worse, how strong the drinks were. The room was gone by 1. I know better now, but I'm in the business of drinking. I find that there are many people out there who don't know their limit. And if they do know their limit, imbibing, like everything else, clouds that knowledge.
Restraint: It's not easy and often feels like you're missing out. Walking the line of the pleasant buzz without going over it is a tough one. Finally, after years of a twisted exercise in trial and error I think I can say I've got a solid grasp on my limitations.
My main tactic is delaying subsequent rounds (since it's challenging for me to not consume whatever is in front of me). It's practically a knee jerk reaction to immediately fill up your glass after finishing it, but what's waiting 15-20 minutes? You'll have another one in a few minutes and often you go over your initial deadline. Or maybe you're like my mom who says she always likes having something in her glass. Her approach is to stretch the drinks out, adding ice and seltzer water. (Only recommended for white wine and appropriate cocktails. I'm an advocate of prudence, not barbarianism).
Whether drinks are stretched or delayed, the bottom line, for me at least, is the holiday festivities are much more festive when you remember all the festivities under a cheerful, not dreary, influence. Drink. But drink smart. You will still have fun.
So you know this isn't temperance propaganda, here's that drink that got my entire family hammered. Enjoy!
1 ounce Bourbon
.5 ounces Fresh lemon juice
.5 ounces Cinnamon syrup
Shake with Ice
Strain into a Champagne flute
Top Champagne or sparkling wine
Garnish with a cinnamon stick