With the pending arrival of Thanksgiving next week, it’s an undisputable fact that many of us are about to go home and visit our families, and while we all love our families to some extent, it doesn’t mean all of them are necessarily a joy to be around for extended periods of time. Especially with a recent election in which the divide between candidates was nearly even and incredibly divisive, chances are you and some of your less fun family members aren’t going to see eye-to-eye, making prolonged interaction all the more taxing. But have no fear, dear readers. I’m here to help you make it through the holidays by teaching you how to sneak enough booze to make the family tolerable without any of them realizing that you’ve been playing a drinking game where you do a shot every time you resist rolling your eyes.
My longer-term readers will recall I did something similar a few years back, in which I taste-tested various booze/cereal combinations to find the best option out there. Today, however, we’re going to discuss more than just tucking alcohol away in the cereal, we’re going to find ways to get you through a myriad of different situations.
1) Get Cranberry Sauced
Quick question, what’s the number one Thanksgiving staple that nobody ever eats? You’re right, it’s cranberry sauce! Well, specifically it’s the can-shaped purple blob that jiggles on a small plate, beckoning the daring and suicidal to spoon some of it onto their already crowded plate. Fuck you, cranberry sauce, this is the big eating holiday. Everyone brought their A-game dishes, and you think you’re getting space on my plate? Go hang out with the ambrosia, asshole.
Sorry, might have been venting some stuff there. Point is, cranberry sauce is always there and never eaten, so why not make it work for you? Cranberries, like all fruit, can be soaked in liquor and turned alcoholic. Get yourself a citrus flavored vodka, or a cranberry flavored one if you want to be on the nose about it, and soak those bastards until they are bursting with hooch. Then use those cranberries to make a sauce of your own, or just toss them onto your plate like a garnish. Someone might ask you about them, maybe, but it won’t be more than polite banter at the very most. And even if someone does actually try your sauce, guess what? It will taste pretty shitty, because all cranberry sauces do, and they won’t take enough bites to get even a buzz off it. Sure, it does mean plowing your way through a terrible amount of cranberry sauce to try this tactic, but what are the other options? Sobriety or family judgement? No way, you’re above that. Just close your eyes, shovel it down, and try not to listen to your uncles and cousins fighting about the economy for the fifth time today.
2. Say Jell-O to Intoxication
Much like cranberry sauce, Jell-O salad is a dish that is utterly beyond redemption, and yet will still be present at every Thanksgiving table across the nation. Some say that no one actually cooks the stuff, that instead it is brought upon us all as punishment for an ancient wrong our ancestors committed. What wrong? Shit, I don’t know. This is America, pick up a history book and take your pick. The point is, Jell-O salad is always present, and only eaten by those with trouble chewing, the ones desperate for the dessert course to begin, or you, in this particular situation. Because for once, the curse can skip your house, you are the one making the Jell-O salad this year.
Essentially, you’re going to treat this just like you would a Jell-O shot production, only instead of setting them into easily shootable containers, you’ll pour the mixture of vodka, water, and gelatin into a mold, then toss in the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel fruit options. Now here is where you can get greedy, or play it safe. Unlike the cranberry sauce, someone might actually try the Jell-O salad, but between the awful fruit and the general low quality of the dish, they’ll probably dismiss the alcoholic burn of the flavor as you fucking up yet another thing you tried to do. Soak the fruit, on the other hand, and you’ve got a dish with enough punch to carry you through the whole day, but one bite from an outsider and they’ll know something is wrong. It’s a gamble, I won’t lie to you there, and only you know if it’s one worth taking for your particular Thanksgiving. Either way, let the Jell-O set, toss it onto a plate, and then dig in.
3. Hiding Sins in Cider
Or Eggnog. Or Hot chocolate. The point is, most families have at least one festive drink that they like to make, one that everyone is pouring mugs of and sipping on throughout the day. Now many of these will be alcoholic already, and those are okay, but the best options are the ones sans any booze at all. I know, this feels counter-intuitive, but stay with me. If the drink already has booze, you can’t cannonball through it without getting a few sideways stares. If the liquid is virgin, on the other hand, then no one will say a word when you’re on your fifth mug by breakfast.
The trick here is to be prepared, and to not get greedy. You’ll want to have a liquor on hand that pairs will with your family’s default beverage. So for eggnog, a cinnamon vodka (whiskey would change the color, and that’s risky business) or something cream based liked Rumchata. With cider you’d want to go with Fireball since the color, scent, and flavor match well to the drink. Hot Chocolate is a tricky one: you can alter the color as long as you bury the liquid under marshmallows, but you’ll want to get something mild or chocolatey flavored to keep it secret. Point is: come prepared. Know what your family serves, and maybe be prepared to whip it up yourself if no one gets that train rolling fast enough.
The other part of this is to not get greedy. Unlike the food tricks, your family knows people hide booze in drinks, and ever since you lit the Christmas tree on fire and tried to pee it out they’ve known you are capable of such tactics. The key here is to remember the day is long, and you don’t want to tip your hand early. Go for a little bit of booze with each cup, maybe heavier if you’re using something with a low-proof, but never enough to where someone could tell just from smelling your mug. If anyone asks for a taste, feign an illness coming on and encourage them to get their own, just to be safe. Slow and steady is how you make it through all these conversations and grandma dropping words that aren’t technically slurs, but sure sound like them.
However you celebrate (or drink your way through) the holidays, I hope that you manage to have a Happy Thanksgiving!