Thursday, December 9, 2010
Hot Booze Edition
This year's fiction Pulitzer was a surprise for many reasons, not the least of which is that it went to a little novel from a tiny press. And while I know plenty of people who were somewhat ambivalent about Paul Harding's Tinkers ("Well, it's great that the Pulitzer went to a small press title, but the prose is really purple" is a typical criticism), I really enjoyed the book. In many respects, it breaks a lot of writerly maxims by indulging in serious word play; by providing so much exposition; and by jumping somewhat precariously into flashbacks that have somewhat heady ramifications for the book's narrative present.
That said, it's a book that takes risks with its language and, in doing so, burned some pretty clear images into my head. The sense of cold, in particular, and the isolation of a rugged, rural winter are viscerally described and sustained throughout the novel, and I found myself leafing through the book months after reading it to re-read certain passages that had stuck. Love thick prose or hate it, this one's well worth a read.
And what better way to enjoy a freezing day and a book that's practically obsessed with the cold than to drink something hot and boozy? Unfortunately, it's all too easy to screw up a hot, boozy drink. The first and worst problem with hot, alcoholic drinks is that we typically make them too sweet. With standard, cold cocktails, we're used to flavor profiles that range from savory (dirty martini anybody?) to bitter (ummmm... bitters much?) to sour (again, obvious), but for some reason, we just love us some hot, sticky, sweet drinks during the winter.
Tis the season for sweets and treats, I suppose, but I'm just not interested in peppermint schnapps in hot chocolate. I'm sure there's a way to make that great, but when I'm feeling cold on the inside and need a quick warm up, I want nothing more than a kettle, a bottle of Jameson, a tablespoon of sugar, a lemon, and some cloves. This is an unbeatable hot toddy recipe that's easy to make even after you've had a couple.
In a sturdy 8 oz. mug or thermal glass, combine the following:
2.5 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 tbsp. sugar
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. hot water
Spike half a lemon wheel with four or five cloves (Stick them into the pith and they'll stay put in the lemon wheel. In the picture, they're spiked through the peel itself, which would also work. I once just stuck them into the flesh thinking that this would allow more of the lemon juice from the wheel to seep into the drink, but when the flesh got warm, the cloves dropped to the bottom of my drink and made my last sip or two particularly bitter and, well, clove-y. It was weird.) and drop it in the glass.
You can add a cinnamon stick if you want, but you know what? That seems needless to me. One frilly garnish is probably enough.