The colder the weather, the darker the beer. Porters and stouts offer a counterintuitive warmth that can last well though the walk home. Many of these beers contain spices that evoke Christmas: cloves, hazelnut, coffee, caramel . . . and while Guinness doesn’t have any of these to speak of, it remains a suitable cold-weather drink and the most accessible dark beer you’re likely to find.
Bartender’s explanation “Guinness is good every morning.”
My companion’s reaction [laughing] “That’s exactly what I wanted him to say.”
River Gods, Cambridge
9) Seadog Hazelnut Porter
The Seadog Hazelnut Porter is a perfect example of a holiday beer. Dark and warming with notes of chocolate and hazelnut, the Seadog Hazelnut Porter is as good for cold weather as it would be bad for warm. It’s an easy Christmas drink for those who want to regulate their level of sobriety, as the rest of them taste so good that it’s easy to forget they’re all at least 80 proof.
Bartender’s explanation “It’s festive and nutty and not too heavy.”
My companion’s reaction “Mmmm ... nuts.”
10) Hot Port
1-1/2 oz: Warre’s Heritage Ruby Port
1/2 oz. honey
lemon wedge stick with fresh cloves
fill hot water
Red for Christmas, this is a drink specifically designed to make you feel good all over. The port is half the strength of Jameson and much smoother, so the Hot Port tastes like alcohol tea. It has the same holiday spice with the cloves, and drinking it is a wholly soothing experience. If a Hot Toddy is to calm yourself after the Christmas melee, a Hot Port is to ready yourself before.
Bartender’s explanation “It’s what I drink at Christmas.”
My companion’s reaction “I wish I was drinking this when I didn’t have absinthe in my stomach.”
Jason O’Bryan has been running around apologizing to people and rambling something about Step Four ever since he submitted this article. When he’s not off at one of his “meetings,” he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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