Each year, every year, December comes and goes too quickly to be fully appreciated. This year, it felt especially blurry: finding the time for all the holiday cheer, travel, and glad tidings, before the 25th arrives and before plunging into the cornucopia quivering with desire and ecstasy of unbridled avarice (thanks Jean Shepherd). Not to mention the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in our front window (yes, we have a nearly four-foot tall replica).
Christmas flashes by, then it’s New Year’s, which for me has never caused much of a to-do. Sure, I used to go out and drink and actually care about doing something. Yet it was never as much fun as hoped and always absurdly expensive. Even the most epic eventualities cannot reduce the annoyance of waiting 10 minutes for a cocktail, delivered weak and in a plastic cup while skinny girls step on your toes to get faster service. Such is hell.
But I won’t get ahead of myself. December, even with its hurry and bustle, still remains and was indeed enjoyable. I spent time off from work, with family near and far, and poured a fine drink or two. So before the clock strikes midnight and 2013 concludes, here are a few late year discoveries and favorites. To you and yours, Happy New Year.
– Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter. Difficult to find a bad brew from this old, traditional English brewery. Much like their Oatmeal Stout, the porter is another fantastic cold weather beer – perfect for sipping in front of a fire.
– Devils Backbone Kilt Flasher Scottish Ale. This wee heavy ale is another hit from this new-ish craft brewery located near Shenandoah National Park, a few hours southwest of Washington, D.C. (Read my take on their Vienna Lager here.)
– Barrel Trolley Amber Ale. Brewed by the Genesee Brewing Company, in Rochester, N.Y., this amber is fairly sweet and light bodied, especially considering the range of amber ales these days. Decent overall, but finishes too weakly.
As per usual, here are a few additional selections, for the interested reader and drinker. Not all booze related, but mostly.
– PUNCH. This new online wine and spirits magazine (punchdrink.com) seeks to “bring the worlds of wine and cocktails together,” as stated in a Wall Street Journal feature earlier this month. The site is a creation of Brooklyn-based writers Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau and is backed by a small division of Random House Publishing. I particularly enjoy the site’s long-form writing, a format similar to my own.
Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary, by Tim Federle. 2013 saw much writing published on the intersection of literature and drinking. Here it continues, but with a more lighthearted touch (a Christmas gift from the wife). Mr. Federle’s short text proffers literary-inspired cocktail recipes: impress your friends the next time you host book club.
Endgame, 1945: The Missing Final Chapter of World War II, by David Stafford. Professor Stafford shines a bright light on several often overlooked months following the Allied victory in Europe. Although formal hostilities with Nazi Germany ended, chaos, uncertainty, and death did not.