White Collar Wire Christmas

The year winds down, with its joys and regrets. Here are a few options – books, booze, music – to get you in the Christmas spirit and out the other side.

Books of 2019


There are only so many superseding indictments and illiterate 302s that a beleaguered white-collar practitioner can read. For your consideration, here are a few books I enjoyed in 2019:

  • Francis Bacon, Essays — Mordant seventeenth-century observations on the critical things.
  • David Brooks, The Second Mountain — Second vocations and the moral life. Brilliant diagnosis. Less certain about the prescription.
  • Benjamin Dreyer, Dreyer’s English — Outstanding English-usage book by the copy chief at Random House.
  • Harold Evans, Do I Make Myself Clear? — Another outstanding English-usage book by the former editor of the Sunday Times, editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Monthly Press, editorial director of the Atlantic and US News and the New York Daily News, and president and publisher of Random House.
  • Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Abridged Edition — A crazily influential and timely book. Takes some patience, but Gibbon is actually very funny.
  • Gary Giddins, Bing Crosby: Swing On A Star — The War Years — Der Bingle. We forget that Crosby is arguably the most influential pop figure of the twentieth century.
  • Dashiell Hammett, The Glass Key — An originator of noir crime fiction.
  • Jane Harper, Force of Nature — Excellent Australian crime novelist.
  • William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace — About time I read this. A crime novel that transcends the boundary.
  • Andrew Roberts, Churchill: Walking With Destiny — A doorstop, but worth it. It is shameful how Churchill’s work and role is often treated today.
  • Ian Rankin, Rather Be The Devil — Scotland’s master of crime fiction.
  • William Shakespeare, Macbeth — “Screw your courage to the sticking-place/ And we’ll not fail.”
  • J. Todd Scott, High White Sun — Gritty Texas crime fiction.
  • Sophocles, Antigone — Sister trying to bury war-hero brother. Trouble ensues.
  • Anthony Tommasini, The Indisposable Composers — Accessible bios and commentary by the chief classical music critic of the New York Times.
  • James Woods, How Fiction Works — a bit highbrow, but incisive. By staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer at Harvard.


Holiday spirit, for real. Set out below are several seasonal cocktails. No warranties; I have yet to try them all.

From cocktail writer David Wondrich, a traditional Tom and Jerry. NOTE: it’s a cocktail, not this Tom and Jerry:

Provides a punch.

From the folks at Punch, a recipe for a French 75 punch. White Collar Wire staff loves a French 75, along with oysters, as a snack before Christmas dinner. Never tried it as a punch, though. We have written before about the French 75 cocktail, here.

The Secret Catch

A recipe for The Secret Catch, [right] as described in Imbibe: “In this cachaça cocktail from Leyenda in Brooklyn, the Brazilian spirit meets sweet Spanish sherry. ‘I wanted to play off the denseness and sweetness of fruitcake,’ says Ivy Mix. “It’s subtle and nutty, like the cake itself.’”

The sherry flip.

Finally, a colonial cocktail, again from Punch — the sherry flip [below]: “The term ‘flip’ is said to have been used as far back as the late 1600s to describe a mixture of beer, rum and sugar cooked at high heat, resulting in what is essentially the 17th-century version of the worst hangover instigator imaginable. By the 19th century, the flip had evolved into a fully upright drink defined as a combination of a spirit or fortified wine, sugar and egg—shaken with ice, and served up with nutmeg grated over the top.”


The updated White Collar Wire playlist (“Music for white-collar crime”) is available on Spotify. New entrants include Kendall Marvel, Samantha Fish, Matthew Locke, Chad Cannon and The Black Keys.

Silver and Gold (pace Burl Ives)
Lump of coal, indeed.

And, it is not wholly un-seasonal: listen to Did You Spend Christmas Day In Jail? by the Reverend J.M. Gates, and two versions of “Christmas in Prison,” by Hiss Golden Messenger and by John Prine.

All sorts of Christmas.
Old and new. Cool and swing.
Classical music for Advent and Christmas.
Christmas groove.
Christmas spa music.
Blue Yule.

Next, dive into Christmas music for all tastes, carved into multiple Spotify playlists by White Collar Wire staff: