When temperatures dip, make sure you have something hot (and boozy) to sip

December 22, 2019
Cold weather drinks

Have you been very, very cold at any point in your life? I don’t mean just Brrrrrrrr or even frozen-nose-hair cold. I mean involuntary teeth-chattering, “I could just lay me down to rest in this snow bank and die, and it would be sweet relief” cold. If you have, there are only three rational explanations for your experience — you were destitute, you were a war refugee, or you are at times bewilderingly stupid on a level that would make me reticent to admit that I know you if I weren’t an even bigger dope than you.

As a young moron, I caddied during Philadelphia winters when a majority of the frozen ground and greens were not covered in snow. My older brothers did, too, but they were working their way through college — they had a reason. I wasn’t even in high school. My off-off-season wanderings were mostly pointless save for three things I remember thinking at the time: “Where did these weirdos for whom I’m humping purchase those bizarre plastic tees that resemble a spider with three legs?” “Oh, fun, the lake in front of the green is frozen and the green is frozen, so these weirdos have no choice but to bounce the ball off the ice and onto the cement green, an attempt that will go spectacularly and delightfully awry!” And “If these weirdos are so desperate to spend time away from their presumably awful wives and smelly children, why don’t they just sit in the club bar and drink like normal people?”

Those rounds were needless, self-inflicted misery for me, but they weren’t that cold — more of the “Boy, it will be nice to be done and get warm” variety of cold. Not many years later, I was working a summer job installing conveyors in factories and such. It was better money than weekday looping, and by then I was a father to my favorite child (are you other two reading this? As if you can actually read! Hey-oh!). One particular installation required us to spend a week or so in a frozen food warehouse. My boss, Al, was a lovely man, and one of my father’s drinking buddies.

On the first day at the freezer warehouse, Al said we’d work in 20-minute bursts, then exit and warm up for a few minutes before plunging back into the subzero world. “Oh, and whatever you do,” said Al, “don’t take your gloves off in there.” Five minutes later, I took a glove off to get a better grip while I drilled or hammered something about 20 feet above the floor, and my hand instantly superglued itself to the metal conveyor (stupid hand!). Naturally, I pulled my other glove off with my teeth, and just like that had two hands welded to the steel. In short, to this day, if you eat anything stored at that warehouse there’s a chance you’ll be gnawing on a few layers of human flesh I left behind. Bon appétit!

Surely, I believed, once that job was finished I would never again be a popsicle. I would forever dance in sunlit and bee-loud glades. Then one of our daughters — and when I say our, I mean my wife and her favorite nincompoop, not you and me, friend — moved to a forsaken glacial mountaintop by a quite large lake in the middle of the middle of nowhere. I would have been content to let her amuse her inner snowwoman and never visit, but when her home became home to our perfect granddaughter, well, you can see where this is headed.

More “Rounds” by Michael Corcoran:

Want to live on Island Time? A Dark ‘N Stormy is just the ticket
A classic Manhattan is the perfect post-round potion
For a perfect summertime post-round libation, you can’t beat a muy fria sangria
How to make a highball

One event during winter carnival is golf, played on the frozen lake, using tennis balls and a collection of clubs rescued from a garage sale in 1951. This should be our fifth major."

After five outdoor minutes in February in this actual snow globe, even Nanook of the North’s snowballs would’ve headed south if he weren’t already buried somewhere in permafrost. When you live in such an environment, it’s necessary to invent things to keep you from going gaga in the depths of winter. There is, for example, the ice harvest, when countless blocks of lake ice, each several feet thick, are sawed from the lake and transported to the only bar in town, where during the summer the massive cubes provide “air-conditioning.” There is also the winter carnival, which is as aptly named as a firing-squad happy hour, were that a thing. One event during winter carnival is golf, played on the frozen lake, using tennis balls and a collection of clubs rescued from a garage sale in 1951. Here’s a Babe Zaharias cleek, go have fun freezing your ass off.

You will not be surprised to learn that two years ago at winter carnival, when the temperature was approximately   –478° F, I agreed, after a few indoor cocktails, to participate in this tournament, which really should be considered our game’s fifth major championship. It would, I thought, be a good idea to take a can of beer with me, so I cracked one open. Within two seconds of stepping outside, the air crumpled the can in my hand. No more beer. Why I didn’t head back inside that very instant, I cannot say. Instead, because this is what idiots do, I traipsed through the piles of snow on the lake for an hour, beseeching the Grim Reaper to take me.

So here’s a holiday wish for you: May you move to where it’s always warm. If you can’t, may you always stay inside where it’s toasty, and if you must go out, have a hot cocktail when you return (like the one below). It’ll fix what ails you.

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WARMING TO THE OCCASION: HOT TODDY!

1. Put some cold water in a kettle. Don’t fill the thing up – maybe four cups of water. Heat on high.

2. Slice a lemon in half.

3. Ransack the kitchen cabinets, locate honey.

4. Uncap the bottle of Dewar’s you should always have on hand. (Dewar’s really is the perfect home-bar staple — satisfies whisky snobs, amazes normal people, plays well with other ingredients, doesn’t require you to refinance your house.) Fill about half of whatever mug or fancy coffee glass you choose.

5. Squeeze in half a lemon.

6. Add a hefty squirt or spoonful of honey. Sugar will also do.

7. Fill the cup with hot water and stir it with a cinnamon stick till the honey (or sugar) dissolves. 8. Burn your lips and tongue. Enjoy.

Michael Corcoran suggests that the next time you walk into a bar on a cold day you borrow his old pal John Byrne’s line: “It’s colder than a hooker’s heart out there.”