What I am Drinking this Festive Season (with bonus recipe!)

Anyone who knows me IRL knows that I adore Christmas. I love the food, picking out gifts, the lights, and feeling like snow is pretty rather than distressing. #CanadianProblems.

As the only alcohol-snob in my family, I insist upon selecting the drinks for the day. Here are my picks for Christmas 2016:

First of the Day 

(Because, really, being a childless adult over the holidays is all about drinking all the drinks without judgement.)

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Fuller’s 2016 Bottle Conditioned Limited Edition Vintage Ale

It’s a personal tradition of mine to enjoy a bottle of Fuller’s Vintage every Christmas. I’m intrigued by beers that should be aged and served at cellar temperature. Last year, I made the mistake of purchasing only one bottle, which I drank with my partner the day of dear Lord baby Jesus’  birth.

To really enjoy Fuller’s Limited Edition this year, I bought 4. Now hear me out on my reasoning for this extravagance. This brew is meant to be aged for 3-4 years, but I want to drink it now, dammit; and geek out over how the flavour changes over time. As well, at 500mL per bottle, it’s really just a wee taste if I share with my partner. This year, I splurged. There’s one for me, one for him, and two to age in our cellar.

Of course, by cellar I mean closet. I’m not that fancy.

Aperitif

Cynar

This mind-blowing aperitif came to my attention via the bar chef/manager at Thoroughbred Food and Drink. Pronounced CHI-narr, this is an Italian liqueur featuring over 13 herbs and plants, the most dominant being artichoke. Does that sound strange? It did to me at first, too. Cynar is Fonzy-smooth, flavourful, and isn’t overpowered by an alcohol bite. Cynar adds depth to cocktails, and alone it’s a friendly sipper. I like it straight up and room temperature, or expertly mixed by Thoroughbred’s chief bartender.

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(If you look real close you can see me in the bottle, hee hee.)

With Dinner

To me, a formal dinner means wine. Sorry, beer, but you can be too heavy and take up too much food room in my tummy.

This year, I chose local VQA wines to have with dinner. I discovered the wines entirely by accident. The Wine Shop recently opened close to my apartment, so my partner and I checked it out while on a snowy walk.

The friendly and knowledgeable wine server offered us some samples of their Christmas features. At her suggestion, we sampled one red and one white: Trius’ anniversary Bordeaux blend, and their 2015 barrel-fermented Chardonnay. We went home with both wines for our Christmas celebrations.

Trius Red the Icon: Anniversary Bordeaux Blend (2014)

French wine, especially Bordeaux, makes my heart and taste buds sing. I think it is exciting how French grapes have the potential to work in Canada, as we are a cold and wet country with a large Maritime region. Of course, there are a lot of issues with wine growing and making in Canada, but that is a different post for a different day.

A Bordeaux blend uses the main grapes of the region, consisting of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It also includes smaller components of Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Trius’s anniversary take on Bordeaux blend is dominated by Cabernet Franc, with ripe black and blue fruit and cracked pepper notes. There’s also undertones of sweet smoke and cocoa. Although colour isn’t a huge factor in the quality of the wine, the ruby red of this wine is gorgeous. With this flavour profile, and pretty bottle to impress the non-drinkers, I was sold. I can’t wait to uncork this with my in-laws, who favour red meats for Christmas dinner.

Trius Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay (2015)

With the white wine drinkers, I will be sharing Trius’ Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay from 2015. New world Chardonnay usually scares me. It typically sees too much oak, making it flabby, obnoxious, and boring. I didn’t have a lot of hope for this wine, and I am surprised by how much I enjoy it.

This Chardonnay has seen some oak in the form of new French barrels. It isn’t overdone. There is a vanilla, warm butter, and clove aspect to this wine, but it’s rounded out by tropical fruit and lees contact. The acid was just right – it evened out the oak, and left a clean finish on my palate. Surprise, surprise: it’s not a life-changing wine, but it’s a wine that made me smile.

Coffee Cocktail

Another personal tradition of mine is to make a coffee/eggnog cocktail for my partner’s parents. It’s a small thank-you for the delicious meal they make me. For serious, my father-in-law could be a gourmet chef. Too bad he’s a banker!

This year, with two jobs and the attempts at writing, I sadly won’t have time to make this drink. But as a bonus for you, dear reader, here is my most requested Christmas batch cocktail recipe for your enjoyment!

  • 1 Small pot of cold, strong coffee (roughly 4 mug’s worth, unflavoured dark roasts are best)
  • 1 Cup EggNog (if you hate eggnog, cream and high-fat milk works just as well.)
  • 5 oz Bailey’s
  • 3 oz Chambord (If Chambord is out of your budget any raspberry liqueur will work.)
  • Ice
  • Raspberries and sugar for garnish

Brew the coffee, add eggnog and let cool. Once cold, gently stir in Bailey’s and Chambord. After stirring, I use a funnel to pour into a bottle for transportation. I just use a dollar store bottle with a flip top, the kind that stone-oven pizza places use. Shake as needed, depending on the brand of eggnog or the fat content of the dairy it may separate. As long as the dairy isn’t expired, it’s fine.

For the garnish, take raspberries and dip in sugar.

To serve, pour over ice. You can float the sugared raspberries or use a skewer. If you don’t have fancy reusable skewers or disposable skewers, toothpicks are a solid substitute.

This is a very forgiving recipe. Meaning that if you accidentally use too much or too little of one ingredient, don’t worry! Taste and adjust the ratios to your own palate.

Happy drinking this holidays!

A Perfect Thanksgiving (or, Thanksgiving is for Hobbits)

Modern Thanksgiving is great – there are mountains of food, days off work, and bright, colourful, crisp weather. December may be the “most wonderful time of the year” but Thanksgiving is definitely the prettiest.

Even though many religious holidays circle around it (Sukkhot, Diwali, and Rosh Hashanah to name a few) it’s a family and food centric holiday an atheist like me can get behind. Plus, even holiday haters can tolerate this one: no one is Scrooge if they sleep through this holiday, and there are sports and German beers for alternative celebrations.

Thanksgiving is great, but this is what my Thanksgiving needs to be completely perfect:

A Basic Walk

I have a confession: I love fall. I love it so much. Transitional seasons are best, but spring is lame because in Canada we can have snow until May. I firmly believe spring does not exist in the Great White North.

On the other gloved hand, fall is amazing. It’s pretty, it smells like wine, and I can eat fattening pastries and savoury meats without worry. Food baby? Layer over! Gross mulled wine stain? Layer over! Fall is amazing, even if it turns me Basic™.

Every Thanksgiving, I must have a walk with my beloved man through a beautiful park. Thanksgiving is one of the last weekends that a Canuck can hope for decent weather, and I insist on appreciating it with a delicious Cinnamon Latte. It’s just not Thanksgiving without a walk through crunchy maple leaves, a warm beverage, and my love beside me.

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Potatoes and Gravy

Thanksgiving food is the best! It’s full of butter and animal fat and herbs – yum! The only negative to Thanksgiving food is that the desserts aren’t as great as Christmas and Easter, or even Halloween. I can forgive the holiday for this, because of the POTATOES.

Coming for an Irish family, we make the best potatoes and gravy. I would eat a bathtub of them if I could. I want to live in a  mashed potato castle with a gravy moat and French fry furniture.

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My Nieces, and their Caregivers

It wasn’t too long ago that my family didn’t have the next generation. Holidays were quiet, and it was hard to get excited about them. Kids change that – being around my wonderful nieces is what I live for, and at Thanksgiving I get to enjoy their company without the distraction of gifts and candy. Have you ever played pretend superheroes with a sweet and sassy little girl? No? Then you aren’t living!

Their parents are pretty cool, too. My sister in law puts up with my crazy family, and is one of the strongest women I have ever met.

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German Alcohol

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love beer and wine. Thanksgiving is the best of both these liquid worlds. Oktoberfest beers flow from the taps of the many craft beer breweries in my neighbourhood, each more delicious than the next. As a bonus, Oktoberfest beers rarely clash with wine at dinner: usually, I can’t switch between alcohols, but going from a Bock to a Reisling at Thanksgiving is delightful. Riesling is amazing with turkey and pie! The Germans make delicious beverages, and this is their time to shine – and my time to imbibe.

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With the feel good things about Thanksgiving, there is also the nasty: this holiday does not have pretty origins. I hope that our Canadian leaders will take this time to look further in the missing and murdered Indigenous women in our country (Wiki article here) as well as our disgraceful inheritance from residential schools. There is a lot to love about being Canadian, but this part of our history is not that.

PS – here is a bonus Samwise gif, since he’s a BAMF and Thanksgiving is for hobbits:

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4 Unique Things We Do As Millennials

Eat Veggies

You know I mean kale.

We are BAMFs because we use our greens to put green back into our bodies. We’re healthy! There is a whole world of delicious things to eat, and we don’t limit ourselves to traditional family meals.

Also, how cool is it that brussel sprouts are trending now? YES PLEASE to sprouts, bacon, and spicy sauces!

Work Really, Really Hard (but only sometimes)

There are less jobs than ever, but millennials are still hustling. We work as baristas, bartenders, and cashiers for minimum wage because kale is expensive AF. It is unfortunate  that many of us will never have a high powered or “respectable” job, but we still find ways to pay the bills.

The weird thing about our work habits is that we give ourselves the freedom to take time off. Weirder still is that the “time off” is usually spent on the side hustle or passion project. Our Instagrams may look like we are bumming around India, but the reality is that the wanderlust sufferer is probably sourcing new materials or inspiration for the side hustle.

Think

We ask WHY, and we do not accept convention as law. We find out where our information is coming from, and why our Twitter crushes suddenly promote products.

We don’t get fooled AGAAAAIINN.

We Create Our Own Cultures and Traditions

Living in one of the most diverse cities in the world, I am particularly proud of this one. Millennials blend traditions to create new ones: I serve my Grandma’s Irish dishes with baklava and French wine, and participate in “Friends-giving” and Festivus.

On the funny side, we have a whole sub-cultures of hipsters and entrepreneurs! We are the generation that creates cultures based on personal identity, not (necessarily) limited by heritage.

Of course the evil side of this is cultural appropriation. Not cool, dudes. Not cool.

 

All in all, we are a weird, albeit financially fucked, generation. It’s pretty cool to be alive right now!