The Simon Back Pages
Holiday Elixirs, Part III
By The Simon Editors
Dec 24, 2006

For the past two years, we've asked our columnists what they will be drinking this year to celebrate the holidays. Here's what's going on to celebrate the end of 2006...

Lucia Bozzola: An Ode to Airborne 

When I arrived at my parents’ house for Christmas a few days ago, this was the situation: my mother had just gotten over a cold, but was still hacking up the occasional lung. My brother was several days into the cold, which meant that between managing copious amounts of phlegm, he was coughing. For hours. At night. Right by my bedroom. My father was in the first throes of the disease, snoozing in his knock-off Eames chair. So much for a merry Christmas. There would be no guests on Christmas Eve, no nog, no sherry, no wine, no wassail. And since I would prefer to exit Christmas as healthy as I arrived, I made a crucial decision. My holiday elixir this year would be Airborne.

Yes, that’s right. The purported magic immunity bullet “invented by a school teacher” (so of course it must be effective). I’ve hit the Airborne in the past when I’ve wanted to make it through airplane trips to fabulous destinations intact, and I swear it worked. Either that, or the power of mind over matter is even more formidable than I thought. Anyway, I’m an Airborne veteran, so here is my technique for Surviving a Holiday Visit to the Parental Plague House:

1. A glass of Airborne with my morning coffee. I prefer the original zesty orange flavor, because the lemon-lime tastes like nasty-ass Gatorade. Even though the orange produces a liquid that could only be described as a neon yellow that would never be found in nature, if I concentrate really hard, I can pretend I’m drinking turbo-charged Orangina.

2. A second glass of Airborne in the afternoon. It’s like afternoon tea, only tepid. And fizzy. And artificially flavored. And without the dainty sandwiches. The directions specify taking it every three hours if you have a cold. I prefer not to go overboard if I’m merely trying to avoid a cold. Plus, there’s only so much you can drink before it becomes utterly disgusting.

3. An Airborne nightcap. Here’s where I could get fancy and festive if I so desire because Airborne added a new flavor to the lineup this year: Airborne Nighttime in “Hot Cider.” In addition to the original lineup of nutrients, Airborne Nighttime contains “soothing herbs” to promote sleep. No, those herbs are not hemp and/or some derivation of poppy. These Airborne tabs are supposed to be dissolved in hot water so you can pretend you’re sipping mulled cider instead of carbonated valerian root. And it’s not bad—it certainly tastes better than Theraflu’s melted plastic potion. Add a cinnamon stick if you want. Go nuts.

If it works, I’ll be knocking back the champagne on New Year’s. If not…I’ll be in bed with a steaming mug of Airborne and a party hat.

Joe Dungan: Eggnog 

Call me square, but I just discovered eggnog. I don't mean something
exotic like eggnog with a shot of brandy. I mean eggnog. I'd never had
it before because, as a rule, I don't consume beverages that look like
bile. But I was at a holiday party not long ago, and there it was on
the booze table. I figured it was finally worth a try.

Maybe your recipe is different, but the hostess at this party had her
own version, and you can make it as follows. Open the cardboard carton
and pour some into a party cup. (For less eggnog, use a smaller cup.)
Fine, it's not as festive looking as wine with mulling spices, but it's
easier to make. Plus, it's got protein.

That was the same evening that I discovered that eggnog is better with
a shot of brandy.

Matt Hutaff: Poinsettia

You're sitting alone, enjoying the ambiance of a friend's holiday party. Murmurs of conversation float alongside the scents of expensive perfumes and an expertly prepared meal – and all you can think about is that bottle of ripple in the trunk of your car.

As if on cue, a beautiful woman sits down beside you and presses a drink into your hands. Champagne? It has the full body of a 1995 Krug Vintage, but there's something more to it. That's when it hits you – cranberry. Cranberry and a splash of Cointreau. It may not be Olde English or a bottle of rubbing alcohol, but you can feel the metrosexual in you crying out for this drink. You throw it back and ask for more. "What's that called?" you ask your benefactrix.

"It's called a Poinsettia," she says as she hands you the Riedel champagne flute. "Isn't it simply fabulous?"

You're in no position to disagree. Five Poinsettias later, you're playing the piano and singing "Mac the Knife" – and the crowd is loving you. Maybe being an extrovert has its advantages...

1/2 oz Cointreau or triple sec
3 oz cranberry juice

Dave Stinton: Baileys Irish Cream

I will sit, in my underwear, in my gradually darkening living room on Christmas Eve, glowering at every happy, sweater-clad family in every holiday television commercial.

On the coffee table in front of me will be a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream with a Hint of Caramel.

With each refill, the bulbous bottom half of the bottle will sway more erratically, sloshing the Baileys onto the surface of the table.

My ice has melted?  Who gives a fuck.

My eyes tumescent with hot tears (sorrow? rage?), I will shout "Liars!" whenever the mood strikes me, which will be often.

The hollow sound of my own voice will echo off the gloomy ceiling.

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