Your Guide to Drinking Less During the Holidays

by | Dec 15, 2023 | Food & Nutrition

Call it the end-of-year cheers: On average, men will consume 3.1 alcoholic drinks during specific holidays prior to Christmas, 3.6 during Christmas holidays, and 5.1 on New Year’s Eve, a 2020 survey by American Addiction Centers found.

Two or fewer standard drinks per day for men, according to the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines. Now, the term “standard drink” is actually based on alcohol content, not just volume. So a high-ABV double IPA or full wineglass pour don’t really count as standard. And overdoing it (intentionally or unintentionally) is what leads to a health hangover. While there has been some data showing alcohol in moderation may actually be beneficial, in the grand scheme of health behaviours, drinking less is better than drinking more.

Even the owner of one of the nation’s best bars (and our gracious host for this package) agrees: “I’d rather sip and enjoy one really high-quality drink that contains alcohol than two or three low- or no-alcohol drinks that are just okay,” says Justin Lavenue, the owner and operator of the Roosevelt Room in Austin. To close out 2022, we’ve devised five tactics designed to help you stick to that “one or two” limit—and one just in case you don’t.

READ MORE: These DIY Cocktails Boost Memory, Alleviate Sickness and Take Care of Your Hangover

Tactic #1: If You’re Going to Have Just One, Make It a…

Three full-flavoured drinks, each with a different base spirit, that’ll satisfy you.

Solstice Negroni

This gin-based drink tastes the best fireside, after a long day. The recipe is adapted from a drink on the menu at the Roosevelt Room in Austin.

How to Make It:

In a mixing glass, add 1 oz aged gin, such as Citadelle Réserve, 1 oz pumpkin-infused blanc vermouth,* 1 oz Becherovka, ½ tsp honey, 4 dashes wormwood bitters, and 4 drops Himalayan salt tincture (1 part salt to 10 parts water). Add ice and stir. Strain into a chilled glass. Top with nutmeg.

*In a container, whisk 1 cup pumpkin puree with one 750ml bottle of blanc vermouth. Cover, refrigerate overnight, strain, bottle, and use.

Black & Blue

Try this fresh-tasting, vodka-based cocktail as a holiday party starter. It comes via Sue Stia, a bartender at Roots Ocean Prime in Princeton, New Jersey.

How to Make It:

Muddle 2 blackberries and 2 blueberries in a shaker; fill with ice, 3 mint leaves, 2 oz vodka, 1⁄2 oz lemon juice, and 1⁄2 oz agave syrup. Shake and strain into a glass over ice. Garnish with mint.

C&K Manhattan

This date night, the bourbon-built drink is by Alyssa Trivett, beverage manager at Louisville’s Copper & Kings distillery.

How to Make It:

Add 1⁄2 oz amaro or aperitivo, 1⁄4 oz sweet vermouth, 1 1⁄2 oz bourbon, and 3 dashes Angostura bitters into a mixing glass, fill with ice, stir, and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

READ MORE: Inverroche Bee&Bee Has All The Nectar In a Gin Bottle (Plus See The Perfect Cocktail Recipe for Summer)

Tactic #2: Upgrade Your Tequila

Surprise: great tequila is coming from celebrity-backed brands.

We rounded up eight bottles, blindfolded a panel of tasters, and sipped. The clear winner: Clase Azul Tequila Reposado, which was balanced and beautiful. “Did you know saying who ordered the Azul?” is also a party conversation starter, for sure.

Tactic #3: Enhance Your Holiday Drink

Take your old favourites and elevate them with these more flavorful swaps.

If you like pumpkin beers, try pastry stouts. They are what they sound like: robust, malt-forward dark beers laced with everything from peanut butter to vanilla beans to cocoa nibs. If you like cabernet sauvignon, try Nebbiolo.

This red varietal is bold and balanced until the verrrrry end, where the surprising finish is powerfully dry. If you like hard seltzer, try hard kombucha seltzer. It combines all the fizz of seltzer with all the tangy-sweet flavours of kombucha.

Tactic #4: Your Better-Mixer Matrix

What mixers work well across the board without pumping a drink full of sugar and artificial flavours? We asked bar owner and consultant Johnny Swet to help plot the versatility and healthfulness of popular cocktail modifiers.

Tactic #5: Minimize a Hangover

It might seem as if your hangover gets worse as you age, but the reverse is true, according to a 2021 study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. The researchers speculated that pain sensitivity declines as you get older, so even if the biological effects of a hangover are the same, your perception of the suffering lessens as you mature. So buck up.

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