Christmas: Cocktails and Crime, Choirs and Cool

No coal lumps here.

A few notes, as Christmas is upon us.

First, what to drink?

I don’t care for Bloody Marys; they’re too acid.  The best Christmas drinks for morning or lunch are milk punch and the French 75.

Here is a Garden & Gun article about (and recipe for) milk punch:

Holiday Milk Punch

And, just this past Thanksgiving, I shared notes about the French 75:

Thanksgiving Cocktails, Truman Capote, Puritan Poetry

Second, what to read?

Bells about to jingle.

This blog dwells on crime fiction, so consider these “best of 2017” lists from the New York Times —

— and from The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and The Rap Sheet.

Third, what to listen to?

I first read about jazz pianist David Ian at Wall Street Journal jazz critic Marc Myers’s Jazz Wax.  It’s wonderful Christmas jazz: soulful but clean, quiet but not boring.

Here is Ian’s take on “Good King Wenceslas”:

Crown was on sale Cyber Monday.

From the British Library, here is a fascinating post on Christmas coronations:

Throughout the Middle Ages, Christmas was a season of festivities and celebrations, just as it is today. 25 December was certainly a high point of this festive season, beginning the twelve days of Christmas which would last until Epiphany. On three occasions in the early medieval period, the Christmas Day celebrations may have been more extravagant than usual: on Christmas Day in 800, 855 and 1066, merrymakers also celebrated the coronations of the very first Holy Roman Emperor and two English kings with interesting legacies.

Read the entire post here.

Fourth, what to believe?

Few things match the choir of King’s College, Cambridge and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols:

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King’s College Chapel. The Festival was introduced in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world.

The service includes carols and readings from the Bible. The opening carol is always ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, and there is always a new, specially commissioned carol. It is distinct from Carols from King’s, which is a carol service pre-recorded for BBC television, also broadcast on Christmas Eve.

Get the details here, and then listen below:

And what to make of Christmas Day itself?  I have considered it:

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: A Marshmallow World

Even if you don’t read my Advent post above, you need to watch a sharp-dressed Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra work through a classic of Christmas cool, it’s a “Marshmallow World”:

Merry Christmas.



Milk Punch for Christmas Morning (via Garden & Gun)

Milk punch for Christmas morning

Milk punch for Christmas morning

This Martha Foose’s Milk Punch recipe (from Garden & Gun magazine) looks like a fine replacement for eggnog:

“A little cup of old school milk punch will keep the holidays merry and bright

The first time Mississippi chef Martha Hall Foose tasted milk punch, she was at the Chart House in New Orleans, and now the drink is a staple on her holiday menu. Foose, the author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea and a James Beard Award-winner, may have found the key to surviving the holidays. “We drink milk punch on Christmas morning after the presents are opened,” Foose says. “Then we all get back in our beds with a big glass while brunch is cooking in the oven.”

Made from half-and-half, superfine sugar, vanilla extract, ice cubes, freshly grated nutmeg, and bourbon or brandy, milk punch is a little bit like a traditional eggnog—minus the raw eggs.

If you try out the recipe, just remember two things. First, the freshly grated nutmeg is sprinkled on top of the punch, never in it. Second, just like eggnog, it’s real easy to find yourself two glasses deep in a hurry.”

Milk Punch
Serves 1
1 ½ ounces good bourbon or brandy
2 ounces half-and-half
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Drop of vanilla extract
Ice cubes
Freshly grated nutmeg

Combine the bourbon, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly until the mixture is cold and frothy. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with a grating of nutmeg.