Contributor Jacki Philleo shares a recipe embedded with familial love, and details some toddies from some of Philly’s best craft cocktail bars.
Alcohol has always played a big part in my family’s gatherings. During the holidays, we
almost need hip waders. That half-glass of sparkling wine at Thanksgiving was my first taste. During celebrations past with family in Arizona where I’m from, I looked forward to Uncle Jim parting with a few bottles from his prized tequila collection on Christmas Eve, and Uncle Milo’s perfectly balanced Cosmos that he makes based on nods alone.
When my mom and I made our separate departures to Pennsylvania, traditions shifted. With our relatives out west, we’ve become a small, floating island of our own holiday customs within a vast sea of East Coast culture and the strange ways of the massive, Pennsylvania-bred family she married into a few years back.
Our colorful Christmas Eve spread of homemade tamales, salsas, enchiladas, guacamole, and chicken tortilla soup has been exchanged for monotone, barely seasoned meat paired with polite scoops of snowy white mashed potatoes and recently thawed corn kernels. The first thing we needed to get us through these times of change was a stiff drink.
But first, we had to make necessary adjustments for the weather. On a balmy, 65-degree winter day in Phoenix, tossing back a margarita on the rocks was not a problem. With freezing temperatures now a part of our holiday experience, our new drink of choice had to be a warm one.
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