Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Kahlúa Gingerbread

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


It brings Bottom Shelf research director Emily and me great pleasure to invite you all over for Thanksgiving dinner. The seating plan is still a bit up in the air, as our eating table has only nine square feet and two chairs, but we can repurpose the bedside tables back into bar stools and the bed back into a bar, plus we can take turns sitting, and a few of you will flake anyway; this will work.

We were going to be cautious and only invite the A through M portion of the Internet, but it turns out that turkeys are monstrously large. I briefly considered cooking only a turkey breast or maybe even a smaller kind of bird altogether, but the Pilgrims didn't invent football just so I could turn around a couple of centuries later and thumb my nose at their traditions, so we settled on getting the smallest turkey we could find and opening up our home to the entire Internet.

Now that we've got the guest list and turkey tonnage settled, all that remains to negotiate is what time I get to start drinking. My usual rules of thumb are the same as everyone else's: Whenever you get your missions accomplished on a workday, and noon on a play day. Easy enough in general but this Thanksgiving presents a definitional gray area between work and play. On the one hand, it's a super major holiday that practically demands leisure, but you could describe cooking for the entire Internet as a pretty heavy workload, too.

I respect my wife's leaning toward the latter interpretation, but there's no way I'm cooking for the whole Internet before I have my first drink. What if, say, the Huffington Post decides en masse that they all need seconds on mashed potatoes? I'm supposed to deal with that stone cold sober while simultaneously explaining to the YouTube commenter table why their Native American jokes are racist even though they're just funnin' around?

So while the sobriety suggestion was a cute one, I think the more reasonable compromise is that once I get the turkey in the oven I'm allowed to sneak a little extra patience into my coffee mug. I probably won't go with beer until afternoon, because even though I like the pacing of building up a slow, unsteady beer buzz throughout the day, morning beers always taste a little too much like camping and divorce, both of which I try to avoid. I don't care for most traditional morning alcohols: a persistent tomato juice aversion takes away the bloody Mary, mimosas and bellinis are wastes of bubbles, and accidentally swallowing a pint of mouthwash gives me heartburn.

I don't drink a lot of Kahlúa, but I love coffee and sneakiness, so I'm certainly not opposed to adding it to the rotation. Last month Andrew had decent luck with the new 70-proof Midnight offering, so I was happy to accept their offer to send me a bottle of the Gingerbread version.

Kahlúa Gingerbread has the same vital stats as the base model—40 proof and about $17 per bottle—and it tastes good. The Kahlua interpretation of the traditional gingerbread flavors leans heavily toward brown sugar and cinnamon, and it's better in coffee than on its own. It would do well with soda water or cola, too, but it strikes me as more at home in a hot morning drink.