Tag Archives: Christmas

The Chop’s Père Noël Cocktail Recipe

We would have liked to get this up before Christmas, when we were talking last week about ’tis the season for amaretto, but Christmas will sneak up on you quickly… like the Krampus. Anyway, this is the time of year when you seem to see bottles of amaretto floating around everywhere. Since taking that stuff straight is about as enjoyable as drinking maple syrup, you’ve got to know how to mix it if you don’t want that bottle to collect dust and become something of an annual holiday joke.

An obvious choice in dealing with amaretto is cranberry juice, which is very seasonal this time of year and which has the tartness to offset the overly sweet taste of amaretto. Although the folks at DiSaronno and their vaguely ethnic, very homosexual spokesman would have you think differently, cranberry alone is not a suitable mixer for amaretto. Mixing two things that are gross will never make something that is good. It’s going to take a little more mixing to come up with something drinkable. We did a little more mixing, and the result was the Père Noël cocktail.

If it comes out red, it's got too much cranberry in it.

The Chop’s Père Noël Recipe

  • 3 parts bourbon
  • 2 parts amaretto
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 parts cranberry juice

Pour ingredients in that order into a double old-fashioned or highball glass full of ice. Stir once or twice and sip.

It’s important not to use too much juice in this. It’s a cocktail and not a highball or juice mixer. When you get it right, it should taste surprisingly similar to the inside part of a chocolate-covered cherry. (Cherry cordials are one of the Chop’s favorite things about Christmas, by the way.) That said, this drink goes really, really well with dark chocolate, so if you’ve got some lying around after the holidays, mixing up one of these is a great way to complement it after dinner, or if you’re in a diet, instead of dinner.

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Photo and more on amaretto at Liquor Snob.

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Today is Christmas

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Holiday Edition

It may be very near Christmas, with everyone taking off from work, and being preoccupied with , uuh, Holiday Cheer, but the country is still facing major issues, and the important work of barstool punditry does not cease. Baltimore’s Drinking Liberally chapter will be meeting as scheduled tonight at the Laughing Pint.

Firstly, we’d like to say thank the little baby Jesus that most of that War on Christmas nonsense is well buried beneath a mountain of yellow snow where it belongs. Those fuckers at Fox have tried to sneak in a few War on Christmas stories this month, but for the most part they fall on deaf ears these days. Better than that, they all sound pretty ridiculous at this point.

Drinking Liberally meetings are open to all. 7 pm.

Secondly, we’d like to point out that every year some asshole congressman in the leadership (from either party, either house) likes to make a big blustery show of saying something along the lines of “I don’t care if we have to extend the session all the way through Christmas night, we’re going to stay in Washington and get this bill passed for the American people.” And every year it’s bullshit. Congress will always vote itself pay raises, always be in the business of pork barrel politics, and always always always take a nice vacation at Christmas.

We don’t even have a problem with any of this. It’s all fine by us. It’s the way the world works. But for Christ’s sake don’t insult people by pretending it’s not. We’d love to see congress in session through Christmas. For any reason. We’d eat that shit up like fruitcake and gingerbread. To hell with the yule log, at next year’s party we want to see a miserable John Boehner gavel his way through an all-night floor debate- preferably on some intriguing, fascinating, crucially important legislation like which font should be used in the Federal Register.

Finally, the biggest story this week, and one of the biggest of the year is the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We watched it live on TV and all we could think of was “Jesus H. Christ was that so fucking hard?” Seriously, was that really so fucking difficult to do? It wasn’t. Giving people basic human rights, dignity and respect is as easy as a bunch of guys sitting in a room pushing a button marked ‘yea.’ The whole thing is over quickly and quietly and the country is better off than it was an hour ago.

We still don’t know what the hell took so long, but all things considered we’re going to miss this congress. It was fun while it lasted, and at the end of the day we’re a lot better off than we were two years ago. It’s been nice seeing laws get passed and business get done, but we’re not holding our breath for any more of that in the next session.

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Laughing Pint is located at 3531 Gough St. in Highlandtown.

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The Chop’s Sweet Russian Cocktail Recipe

The holiday season is that time of year when the Amaretto rears its ugly head in homes and hearths from Highlandtown to Upper Park Heights. In cookies, candies, hot chocolate mix, or liqueurs, the stuff is bound up with Christmas just as much as eggnog and greeting cards.

Whether you’re forced to keep a bottle on hand for Aunt Marie, find yourself at a party with off-brand booze, or have the great good fortune to be entertaining a snowbunny with questionable cocktail tastes, it’s helpful to know how to use amaretto.

'Tis the season for amaretto.

This is a cocktail we’ve been calling for occasionally for a few years now. It’s good as an after-dinner drink, nightcap, that sort of thing. It’s as simple as it gets, tastes sweet and smooth, and being all liquor, it’ll knock you down if you’re not careful.

The Sweet Russian

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part coffee liqueur
  • a splash of amaretto

Stir in a shaker and serve up or over ice.

Yep. A Black Russian with a splash of amaretto. You’ve got to love a cocktail that you can call for in any bar in America, and make at home with no effort at all. You can even get one at the Chinese restaurant on Christmas night.

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Best Bets: Best Christmas Gifts under $10

Maybe your workplace is doing a secret Santa this year. Maybe you got an invite to a holiday party and want to bring a gift for your hosts (which is proper and good form). Maybe you need something for the mailman or your kid’s teacher or someone else you don’t really care about at all. Maybe you’re just cheap.

Whatever the case may be, we all sometimes need to find gifts that cost as little as possible. Just because you’re not spending much though doesn’t mean you’ve got to give up on good taste. They say it’s the thought that counts, and if you put a little thought into your smallest gifts, you can make them count, too.

Magazine Subscriptions

You’ve probably heard by now that print media is dying, and that iPads and Kindles are the wave of the future. All that aside, light reading is as enjoyable as it ever was. Magazine subscriptions are ridiculously cheap right now, with most running just over the cover price of one issue, and in most cases you can get two full years for around $10. The Chop recommends Esquire, Baltimore Magazine, Interview, W Magazine, The Atlantic, and Juxtapoz. It’s a breeze to order gift subscriptions online, although shipping of the first issue typically does take some time.

Alarm Clock

Ikea is well known for three things: good design, low prices, and shoddy materials. Their DEKAD alarm clock is two of those three things. Made of nothing but glass and steel, it’s as solid as it is stylish. Clean, classic design and a $6 price tag put it right at home in any room. Alternately, their lower level has a ton of housewares, textiles and decor items at budget friendly prices.

Handkerchiefs

A tie may be the default last-minute generic gift idea for men, but a set of handkerchiefs is a fraction of the price, and he’ll probably get more mileage out of them than any tie. This set of Dockers handkerchiefs from Kohls is on sale for $10, and presents well in that cylidrical package which might double to hold pens, change, or whatever.

Christmas Ornaments

A Christmas ornament is another pretty standard go-to gift, but the ones available at Ten Thousand Villages in Fell’s Point are anything but ordinary. This set of three is handmade in China and marked down to the ridiculously low price of $5.00. There are also options from India and Nepal as well as other handmade gifts from all over the world.

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Whether you’re stuffing a stocking, sticking to a budget or treating yourself, any of these gifts will be money well spent. Have you received something inexpensive that made you smile? Come up with the perfect solution for secret Santa, maybe? Post your own economical gift ideas in the comments.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Christmas Lights

We’re forgoing any Christmas decorations this year. Call it an austerity measure. Call it Grinching. Call it (most accurately) laziness. With the amount of traveling we do every year, and not knowing when we’ll next be home for the holidays, it didn’t seem prudent to invest time, effort and money in decorations that may not see the house-front again for another 3 or 4 years, especially with no wife or children to share in their enjoyment.

With Christmas just 10 days away, we’re guessing that everyone who’s going to decorate already has, so we may be a bit late with this, but we’re certainly not too late to judge the good, the bad, and the ugly as far as Christmas lights in Baltimore go.

We’ve noticed that the vast majority of inner-city rowhouse dwellers are disinclined to decorate at all, and most will only bother with a tree if there’s a Santa-aged kid in the house. It pains us to admit that the County’s got it all over us as far as decorating goes, but no matter which side of the city line you’re on, you can’t go wrong if you’ll follow our advice to the letter.

This house on Peacock Lane in Portland is a masterpiece of taste and understatement. It's warm, welcoming, and wonderful.

Do: Use white lights. When you light your house, the idea is to show off the house not the lighting itself. Colored lights have a way of clashing with each other, and with the features of most houses. With white lights, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong. They can be accented with small strands of red or green lights if you’re really craving a little color, but white effects the soft, warm glow that makes a home look most inviting in the dead of winter.

Do: Work with the symmetry of your house. If you’re going to light up the door, be sure to light up the full length window next to it. Any architectural features like gables or overhangs should be lit, otherwise you run the risk of an incomplete aesthetic. If you have an attached garage, that should be treated as part of the house as well.

Do: Understand that less is more. Resist the urge to compete with your neighbors or add just one more ‘finishing touch.’ Too many lights, wreaths, bows, etc. can go from festive to cluttered very quickly.

Do: Take note of what your neighbors and others are doing. If someone with a house style similar to yours gets it right, don’t be afraid to borrow some of their ideas. Just because you’ve always done it some specific way, doesn’t mean you can’t try something new this year.

Do: Place your tree in the front window. This isn’t mandatory, of course. Some people will want to set up their tree in a non-fronting room. If you’ve got the room and the right windows (bay windows, picture windows) placing the tree at the window will serve to bring the inside out a bit and make the whole effect that much more unified, cozy, and inviting.

Yes, there is actually someone's house under there.

Don’t: Buy any of those giant inflatable snowmen. Just look at the picture. Even with only one of those, your house is a considerable fraction of being that ugly. All those inflatables that light from the inside and require you to run an air compressor half the night are always, always, always tacky. The first Clark Griswold who ever bought one of those probably thought he was pretty clever, but now that Wal-Mart is moving them by the truckload in every town in America they look more ridiculous than ever.

Don’t:Put a bunch of wire statues all over the yard. All those little deer skeletons are junky and trite. One look at them and all we can think is “Welp, that’ll be in a landfill somewhere sooner or later.” That’s not the thought you want in your head at Christmas time. Also, along the same lines, we’d like to mention that we fully endorse natural wreaths and trees.

Don’t:Light deciduous trees. If you’ve got an evergreen, go ahead and light that. Most types of bushes and shrubs are good for lighting as well. Once they lose their leaves though, deciduous trees look dead and have no symmetry. Lights tend to look more like they’re tangled than neatly strung.

Finally Don’t: String all purple lights and football decorations. Christmas is supposed to be about the little baby Jesus. It’s not about the little baby Ray Lewis. Harbaugh, Reed, and Flacco are not the three wise men. The Yinzers in Pittsburgh may have a memorabilia-based economy, but as Baltimoreans, this kind of thing is beneath our dignity.

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The Chop’s Holiday Egg Nog Cocktail Recipe

We like egg nog. We’ll make no apologies for that. If you’re one of these people who does not like egg nog, look at this, because that’s all we can do for you today.

For the rest of you, we’ve come up with a damn near perfect way to mix up an egg nog cocktail that’s actually thinner than pea soup, and tastes so good you might even drink more than one of them.

This recipe is guaranteed to have you feeling extra *jolly.*

As a bonus, this mix is a great way to use leftover coffee. We have leftover coffee in out home pot nearly every day (which doesn’t end up burnt and tarry because we bought a very good coffee maker) and we hate to see it go to waste, which it usually does.

The Chop’s Egg Nog Recipe

  1. 1 part liquor
  2. 1 part egg nog
  3. 1 part cold coffee
  4. a dash of simple syrup

Pour it all over ice and shake the hell out of it. Strain it over new ice. Swear at relatives, ruin Santa myths and topple Christmas trees accordingly.

Step 1 calls for “liquor” because you have a few choices here. We’ve tried this recipe with bourbon, brandy, and dark rum to good effect. Each base liquor is dramatically different, and although the Chop prefers bourbon the year round, our favorite take on this recipe was when it was mixed with the Kraken dark spiced rum.

Do not, we repeat, for the sake of the little baby Jebus at Christmastime do not use light rum, vodka, blended whiskey, or anything else that’s not a very sweet, very brown liquor. Bourbon, brandy, and dark rum… it’s all you want for Christmas.

Shake yourself up a few of these and the only worries you’ll have this holiday are remembering which wills you’re named in, and whether she’s you second cousin or your third cousin twice removed by marriage.

Happy Holidays.

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