Holidays are a splendid time for cocktails. In fact, it's the one time during the year when some people do drink, who don't, or wouldn't at any other time. New Year's, especially, is a time when most people will venture a sip or two, if for no other reason than to be cooperative in the spirit of the occasion.
I gave up making resolutions years ago. In fact, the whole idea of resolutions strikes me as silly and pathetic. What more artificial benchmark--than the turn of the year--to declare allegiance to some plan, or to make some pledge.
When I was a kid, we used to mark the arrival of the 4th of July, and New Year's, with fireworks--especially firecrackers, "lady fingers," "cherry bombs" and "salutes" (those last were pretty impressive explosions!). It was a chance to "play with fire" and make some noise, to engage in a slightly naughty (even marginally illegal) activity, without actually getting in trouble. I put making New Year's resolutions up there with making wishes before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake. Quickly forgotten, and seldom (if ever) stuck with.
Here's a sweet mix for the holidays--a kind of hybrid Negroni--if you know the classic drink, which is available on most cursory drink menus across the restaurant spectrum.
Ingredients (by proportion):
3 parts sweet vermouth
2 parts Mandarin orange liquor
2 parts compari
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
Well shaken and served up.
Don't make resolutions you can't keep, and if you do make them, make them modest and easily attainable. That way, you'll have a half-way chance of realizing them. Also, you have the opportunity to achieve something within your grasp.
Last night on PBS they ran another special on Dale Chihuly, the glass-art master, whose latest installations at the De Young Museum were on the theme of gardens, baskets and starbursts. Many of his most recognizable works are like ganglia of colored worm-like projections, sort of post-Modernist chandeliers. Some of them suggest nothing so much as fireworks in a night sky, with colored streams and vectors exploding in all directions from an explosive center.
Here's to you, dear reader, hoping that you appreciate your circumstances as much as I do these days. All signs point to an "austere" year for Americans. Unless, of course, you're already rich, in which case the extension of the Bush tax cuts for another two years comes just at the right moment.