Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stay Indoors. Read Books.


White Bear Cocktail

1 oz. Dry gin (A straightforward London Dry like Beefeater or Bombay does well)
2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Dry vermouth (I used my go-to brand Noilly Prat)
.25 oz. Lemon juice
3 dashes Sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica works great)
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake everything with ice and strain into cocktail glass.

~ Adapted from "Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes"

At some point, the holidays were declared a time when everyone is supposed to be continually on the move. If you aren't manically hustling from store to store buying either gifts or provisions, you're supposed to be caroming from one party to the next. Neighbors, friends and employers traditionally throw all their holiday shindigs in the last few weeks of December, so there's certainly no shortage of reasons to leave the house.

But what if you hate leaving the house this time of year? Extroverts love the kind of relentless human contact that takes place at year's end, but what if you're the sort of person who'd rather just stay inside, lay dormant, and wait things out?

Look, I love a party as much as anyone. I enjoy throwing on the Santa hat and sloshing the nog when the opportunity presents itself. But there's a limit, and it's during these times I can appreciate the wisdom of bears. Hibernation is a very underrated state of being, and it can serve you well.

Case in point: Retreating from the Yuletide maelstrom allows more time to browse old bar guides for worthwhile cocktails. I found a fairly decent one in a pocket-sized tome from 1936 by a guy named Harman Burney Burke. I kicked the tires on the White Bear Cocktail and took it for a couple test drives with the assistance of the Bamboo Babe. Experimenting with a few dry gins and a few vermouths, we declared the drink sound, but lacking in one small area: tartness. The addition of a simple quarter-ounce of lemon juice pulls it out of the doldrums and adds the requisite snap.

(Also, I suppose that having tinkered with the recipe, I should follow the tradition of changing the drink's name. If anyone has a suggestion, feel free to offer it up. However, it's probably too late to propose it to Mr. Burke for inclusion in a future edition, since I'm guessing he's been attending the Great Happy Hour in the Sky for some time now.)

So if you're the type of person who loves the cavalcade of holiday revelry, I raise my glass to you and admire your stamina- Have one for me, and I'll catch up with you sometime in March. Until then, I'll be huddled beneath a stack of drink books* and making notes.

* They're surprisingly warm. Particularly the hardcover editions.