This winning entry for the Salon Bar Challenge -- in which we asked readers to come up with drinks to help holiday hosts prepare for or unwind from the stresses of hosting -- comes to us courtesy of Rebecca Farwell. Check out this week's Challenge here.
You've gone and done it: agreed to have the whole stinking bunch over. All they needed was a small opening, and you gave it to them. "Sure," you said, in a moment of weakness, "we could have dinner at our house this year. Why not?"
Food is not the issue; I know you have that covered. What you need is a battle plan for traversing the minefield of dysfunction. That requires a medicinal pre-funk, mid-event funk options, and some post-funk serenity. My advice? Half an hour before the slavering hordes descend, make the coldest martini known to man, pull out your stash of cheese and crackers, and give yourself 15 minutes of quiet consult with Mr. Gin. Hello, sweetheart! Thusly girded, you will be a relaxed yet buoyant host.
In the event of emergency, and by emergency I mean a homicidal passive-aggressive direct hit, go to the powder room, where you have cleverly stashed a vodka mini inside the cardboard tube of an extra roll of toilet paper (not the one that will likely be used next, the one behind that). Toss it down, hold your wrists under cold water and say to the mirror, "Water off a duck. Water off a duck. Water off a duck." You may add, "She has an ass the size of Mount McKinley." You're good now, go on back out there and serve the damn dinner.
Let's say you've survived and closed the front door behind the very last hugger. Hooray for you! If you're like me, the food is stowed, the first load of dishes is in the washer, and the second load can just sit there in the sink until you're ready to go the next round. All you Virgo overachievers close your gaping traps and get busy washing by hand. The rest of us are going to make a cocktail for ourselves, a little something I like to call the "Forgive and Forget."
It's a bit of everything, just like your guests: sweet, simple, bitter, twisted. And, as a bonus for your rattled nerves, it also contains the soothing solicitude of chamomile. Super-delicious.
The Forgive and Forget
2 jiggers chamomile-infused vodka (4 tea bags to ½ liter vodka; soak in a cool, dark place for four hours, strain and store)
2 jiggers pomegranate juice (Not the sweetened juice; try to find "Just Pomegranate" pure juice. If you use sweetened juice, forgo the simple syrup)
2-3 shakes of bitters
1 tablespoon simple syrup
- Shake with ice and strain, toss in the twist and go to your living room. If you have a Christmas tree, turn off all the other lights and sit there with your spouse (or spousal equivalent). It's your time, and nothing bonds a couple more securely than having battled a common enemy.
Now, raise your glass and recite the special Forgive and Forget toast:
Here's to you, Auntie Num Nums, you are a bitter old bat, but your dentures are weak. I forgive you.
And here's to you, sweet but simple Uncle Morty. I forgive your staring at my breasts as though they belong to you and not someone to whom you are related.
Cousin Wayne, your twisted soul and foul mouth belie your gentle fondness for the animal kingdom, what with all your pet iguanas and ferrets and hamster condos and whatnot. I forgive you, too.
With this drink, its piquant pomegranate symbolizing forgiveness and the 364 days (and counting) ahead to do better by each other, I hereby reclaim my happy place and bestow upon each of you a very big break.
We can't all be well-adjusted and fabulous, can we? No, we can't. Now, get another drink and make sure the forgetting is good and forgotten.