How Hanukkah Harry hasn’t helped us delay gratification

My Fellow Inebriates,

Surrounded by Gentiles in Langley, Canada, I almost forgot that today is the start of Hanukkah.751_menorah_325 copy

My Jewish uncle (who wraps the best-looking Christmas packages in the whole family) emphasizes that Hanukkah is a small occurrence on the Jewish calendar—not a “me too” answer to Christmas but a celebration in its own right. Uncle B is a good sport about Christmas even though he cultivates a broad misanthropy that blankets all faiths and he would happily downplay both Christmas and Hanukkah if his Catholic-raised wife (my mum’s sister) would permit it.

Another thing I haven’t mentioned—Uncle B doesn’t talk to bears. Despite our obvious animation and partial intelligence, he doesn’t see the bears at LBHQ. He’s like that kid who sees dead people, except the dead people are bears, and he doesn’t see them. So he’s actually not like that kid who sees dead people. But Uncle B has more brain cells than I do, so maybe he’s right, and Scary and I aren’t really here.

"You bears are actually not real."

“You bears are actually not real.”

Which is to say, Uncle B doesn’t care what my Hanukkah plans are (harassing Hanukkah Harry for eight gifts). Nor is Uncle B going to show up with eight gifts.

I was thinking this when Christine arrived last night with her famous canvas bag. Eight days’ worth of gifts sounds great, but they are very small gifts—arguably the sort that make you crave larger gifts. (A teeny bottle of Patron, for example, would just foster rabid desire for a large one, but perhaps HH should bring it anyway as an experiment.)

Eight days of moderate satisfaction. Eight days of relative restraint.

So when Christine rang the doorbell I decided to throw my lot in with her rather than Hanukkah Harry, who actually forgot to visit us altogether last year. What could be in her canvas bag?

She’d brought stuff, and we had stuff waiting. While the kids gobbled pizza, we sampled eight things, unconsciously shooting the eight-present wad before we even remembered it was Hanukkah Eve.

cannery scotch ale

Cannery Squire Scotch Ale

Hazy dark copper with a soap-sud head, this ale gives off a woody, malty, butterscotchy aroma with perceptible peat. It could be chewier on the palate, but it delivers a mellow sweetness that goes down easily. Pretty ordinary, though. I’d get it again, but only if it were cheaper.

Capitão Rayeo Reserva (2009)

capitao raeyo reservaA blend of Syrah, Trincadeira, and Aragonez, this Portuguese red wine is aged six months in French oak barrels and weighs in at 14% alcohol. It would benefit from decanting, which we didn’t bother doing, only to find that it had developed into a gem by the time our glasses were finished. A cheap gem too—at $14 bucks, it serves up rich fruit, supple tannins, and some unexpected depth.

Ola Dubh 16

OLA DUBH 16The product of a collaboration between Harviestoun Brewery and Highland Park Distillery, this dark “black oil” boasts 8% ABV and exudes oak, smoke, peat, and molasses. On the tongue it’s surprisingly moderate in weight, Scotch-like characteristics becoming more pronounced and diverse. Roasty-toasty with vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, the overall sensation is velvety and marvelous with a nice boozy burn.

Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

innis_and_gunn_rum_caskBeer with a rum-cask finish? OMG! Why aren’t more brewers doing this? The malty, enveloping INNIS & GUNN—but pirate-style. Rich mahogany bronze with gorgeous clarity, this 7.4% elixir fills the mouth with toffee, smoke, candied fruit, vanilla, and the promised rum essence. Every taste bud is rewarded with a symphony of masterfully harmonized flavors. What a treat. We knew whatever we had after this would suffer by comparison, so we switched gears…

Canadian Cream

We’d been thinking our homemade hooch was barely a success, but it surprised us by being pleasant and drinkable. While all of us agreed it wasn’t exactly Bailey’s, it wasn’t nasty either.

Canadian Cream II

Bailey's and Homemade side-by-side comparisonUnbeknownst to me, my mother made a second batch of Wiser’s whisky–based cream liqueur, this time tasting and tweaking as she went, loosely following a much simpler recipe reliant on fewer canned items and therefore ending up fresher-tasting and more successful. Still not a match with Bailey’s, but totally yummy. But why the hell didn’t my mum invite me to help???


DSCN2695If we can drink rum-flavored beer, we can eat whisky-flavored balls. I promised I wouldn’t describe Christine as “eating my balls,” but we all agreed my balls could use more booze. Even a spray-misting with more whisky would have helped them. But then again, perhaps Wiser’s just doesn’t have enough character to carry a whisky ball.


Highland Park 12

Cue angel song! Cue God-rays! Ahhhhhhh, this was what Christine’s canvas bag contained. Silky and palate-coating with a teasing honey sweetness, HIGHLAND PARK 12 lulls you with malt, then surprises with delicate smoke and vanilla, barely perceptible peat, and an endless finish. Christine, Christine, Christine…sigh.

You see, I passed out after our wee dram and didn’t wake up until the next morning. Christine had had coffee and left, sensibly opting out of the family’s planned “breakfast with Santa.” I awoke alone, with a furry tongue (like every day). And I was sad. I would have liked to hug her good-bye.

So there you have it: eight days of gifts, all in one day—the day before Hanukkah. We did the opposite of what scientists advise for optimal emotional and intellectual development: hastened gratification rather than delayed it. If you’re familiar with the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, you’ll know that, of preschool children offered a marshmallow along with two options (eat it immediately or wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows), those who chose the second option grew up to have higher SAT scores, more self-assurance, higher social competence, and better reasoning abilities.

By taking our eight gifts before Hanukkah, we didn’t take option 2. We didn’t even take option 1. We took option 0, which probably explains a certain brain-cell shortage in yours truly 😉

Happy Hanukkah, my fellow inebriates.


Harrrrryyyyyyy! I’ve got a Gelt Martini chilling for you!

So I’m wondering where Hanukkah Harry is, and realizing something is wrong. You got it, my fellow inebriates—I’ve been forgetting to leave a treat out at bedtime.

How could I forget? We do this every Christmas Eve for Santa, who, it turns out, is probably my dad scarfing down the cookies after midnight.

But Hanukkah Harry is real; other, more reliable people than my parents have attested to his existence. So what sort of drink would make him feel welcome in our house? Why, a Hanukkah Gelt Martini.

Now, we’re talking! But what is gelt? Ahhh, money, often distributed as part of the Hanukkah tradition. So what makes a martini a money martini? Why, Goldschlager, of course! So why don’t we have any of this festive, gold-flecked booze in our house?

My mum won’t buy Goldschlager because she says it’s frivolous and no one wants cinnamon schnapps (excuse me? no one?). My dad won’t buy it because he doesn’t want to ingest any heavy metals. This seems like wussing out to me—back in the 1970s this guy staged-named Monsieur Mangetout ate all sorts of metal objects, piece by tiny piece. Over the space of two years he ate a Cessna 150, for crying out loud. So if some wingnut can survive consuming a plane, I don’t see why my dad couldn’t knock back a few gold flakes.

Gold is inert, which means it passes through the body with no consequence. You don’t even have to lube up your digestive tract the way Monsieur Mangetout did with castor oil before he consumed bikes and televisions. The Goldschlager flakes are 24-carat, so they pass harmlessly through you, and they’re so tiny they don’t even give you sparkly poo.

Now, if Goldschlager contained gold salts, it would be a more toxic matter. Then you’d be looking at falling hemoglobin/platelets, proteinuria, pruritis, rash and—OMG—diarrhea!

Monsieur Mangetout claimed he never had diarrhea, although he did die at 57, which isn’t so hot. That dude sometimes ate a pound of metal a day. So why is my dad being such a lightweight?

A 750-mL bottle of Goldschlager contains less than 0.1g gold—about $6 worth. Not only can my dad afford to buy it; he can afford to drink it without getting diarrhea.

Anyway, the Goldschlager’s not for my dad; it’s for Hanukkah Harry. Here’s how you make a Hanukkah Gelt Martini:

  • 2 parts chilled potato vodka (Luksusowa if you’re my parents; Schramm if you have more money)
  • 1 part Goldschlager (not kosher—hope that’s okay, Harry)

Combine in a martini shaker with ice, then mix and strain into a chilled martini glass. Come and get it, Harry! If you arrive tonight, I’ll think of another, non-diarrheic drink for tomorrow.

Move over, Oprah! LB’s “Favorite Things” are here!

My Fellow Inebriates,

It’s no secret that Oprah Winfrey likes bears, so I know she won’t mind if I hijack her annual much-anticipated “Favorite Things” for my own purposes.

Without further ado, an LB selection of favorite things for this gift-giving season:

PacMan wine charms. That little dude gobbles like there’s no tomorrow, so he’d probably make a good drunk too.

Brut Gold Champagne, Armand de Brignac. To quote Miss O herself: “Jay-Z has a head for business, a soul for poetry, and a taste for luxury. He sent me this glorious Champagne, and I’ve since sent 25 cases to friends.” OMG! How do I get to be friends with Oprah??

Lava Lamp Shot Glass Collection. Wow, the glasses light up when you pour liquid in them. The lights go out once the glasses are drained. Good reason to keep filling ‘em.

Houdini Automatic Wine Opener. Yes, yes, YES!!! For my ever-defeated, pathetically thumbless paws, this is a long-sought-after boon. For obvious reasons my parents will ban it from the house, but…ahh. You just press the button and it pulls the cork out for you. When it’s not doing waiter duty, it recharges.

Whiskey Stones. The perfect way to keep your scotch cold without diluting it or imparting additional flavor. Chill these Vermont-milled stones in the freezer, put them in your rock glass and pour. Remember not to crunch them.

Hakutsuru Premium Sake Selection Gift Pack. There’s more to sake than heating it up and slamming it before the taste comes through. These premium sippers are lovely enough to savor cold.

Jezebel wine bottles. Take these to the U-Vin next time you whip up a batch of cheap plonk. Six weeks later, when you’re stuck with 80 bottles of barely drinkable vino, you’ll at least be able to enjoy the different colors.

Liquor Bottle Christmas Ornaments. OMG, why don’t we have these on our tree?? My parents tell me it’s because the kids would be running around with them. Sigh.

Liquor Bottle Nightlights. I get scared at night just like anybody, especially when I start thinking about zombies coming to get our chardonnay. If I had a booze nightlight I wouldn’t have to grind up against other, unwilling bears when I get frightened at night.

Dan Lacey's Susan Boyle and Cat Duet

And lastly, a wish for art. Sadly, this painting has been auctioned off on ebay, but I can dream.