Serious Eats: Drinks
Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Cocktail Rx Holiday Shakers
Last Friday Bottom Shelf research coordinator Emily and I kicked off the holiday party season with our annual two-person celebration of Larry Bird's birthday. We ate deviled eggs and sausaged chicken and drank all manner of fowl-themed things, including Old Crow, Eagle Rare, and Bluebird Bitter. We contemplated having some friends over to share our bird bounty and our YouTube clips, because we're sociable enough creatures and Larry was the ultimate team player, but in the end we decided we needed one more calm night alone before the rest of the holiday party schedule slaughted on.
This is the time of year when the more socially responsible and user-friendly generators of Internet fluff tell you about "12 Unorthodox Uses for Leftover Cookie Glitter," "14 Ways to Avoid Drunken Scandal at Your Boss's House," and "Your Company's Interns Ranked In Descending Order of Tolerance for Your Bullshit Outside Normal Business Hours." But I think you all know how to decorate and behave just fine without my help. Maybe I just go to really simple, underproduced affairs, but in my experience it's pretty easy to host, attend, and (ugh) "survive" all kinds of holiday parties.
That's not to say that all parties are created equal; some hosts and guests overachieve. Saturday night we went to a party to which Emily's pal Allegedly Carolyn brought beet-dyed pickled deviled eggs. Then on Monday we went to my work Christmas party, which is always a good time since I work in a bar staffed by lots of friends and a few entertaining enemies. Emily and I went above and beyond the call of duty that night, as both of us remembered to eat and neither of us got sucked into doing Jager bombs with the mad Irishwoman who owns the place.
Tomorrow night is Emily's office party; she works with doctors or astronauts or some similarly grand group of people who serve high-end hors d'oeuvres in nice homes, so I don't anticipate any problems there. Then Saturday night we're commemorating the birth of an unspecified non-Jesus person she knows; I'm not sure what's expected of me with that one, but I've prepared a couple of vaguely uplifting poems and alibis that should get me through whatever duty is called for.
But that's just my easy life. What if you find yourself hosting or attending a more complicated party and you don't have the good sense to pickle and bedevil red eggs? Perhaps you want to jazz things up with fancy drinks but lack independent access to a shaking device, colored sugar, and sweetened juice blends? Then you might consider the Holiday Shakers line from drink-mix slingers Cocktail Rx.
A Cocktail Rx Shaker is a reusable plastic shaker that comes with a two 3-ounce pouches of concentrated flavor syrup and a packet of red rimming sugar. Each Shaker also comes with a recipe that calls for adding 6 ounces of alcohol, 6 ounces of water, and ice to the syrup; shaking festively; and decanting into rimmed glasses (each $8 Shaker makes 8 servings). It's certainly not something designed to appeal to even a semiserious cocktail person, but when I got the package in the mail I decided it could be great for my aunts and their friends or anyone else who likes the idea of homemade cocktails provided the mission is rendered foolproof.
Of course, I can't recommend it if the resulting drinks are unbearably candied or otherwise offensive, which is a real and present danger whenever you head down the novelty premixed drink path.
The results were mixed. For starters, I wouldn't bother with any of the rimming sugars. The drinks are, of course, plenty sweet enough without the messy extra step. As for the liquid portion of the operation, the Pomegranate Martini tasted like strawberry Pop Tart filling. The good news is that this drink could handle twice as much vodka as prescribed; the bad news is why does a pomegranate drink taste like fake strawberry pastry filling? I'd recommend only using half of the allotted syrup here, and you might also replace the vodka with gin or tequila. The Cranberry Margarita was similarly flawed: Way too sweet, though at least identifiably cranberry-flavored. Tequila was a good call for this one, as the flavoring would have walked all over vodka or another less assertive spirit.
In happier news, I liked the Peppermint Martini, which is also way too sweet but which benefits from the relative novelty of the over-the-top mint flavor. If you're a mint lover who's not afraid of a little extra sugar, then Cocktail Rx Peppermint Martini Holiday Shaker can liven up your party.