The holiday season is a magical one.  It’s one of giving thanks, of celebrating good food, of sharing meals and gifts with one another, and it’s hopefully a time to relax.  And, of course, it means family.  You know the one, that family.  The one that came with your special someone.  The “strings attached” family.  The Ball and Chain of your Ball and Chain.  The critics.

Your in-laws.

You could be thinking, “Well, wait a minute here, Nick.  I like my in-laws!”  That’s great, but we don’t need your denial here.  Also, I’d like to point you to “Stockholm Syndrome” in the dictionary.  The good news is, even if you love your in-laws and wear ugly sweaters unironically, you can still use this list.  Just cross out “in-laws” and replace it with “That weird neighbor who smells funny” or “The monthly dinners you have to go to with your boss” or “That guy on the airplane that clearly doesn’t understand that the middle-seat-sitter gets first dibs on the arm rests.”

See?  It’s a list for everybody.  Now let’s get started with our Six ways to dealing with turds:

  1. Hot Buttered Rum

I don’t know who the madman was that invented this drink, but I’d like to shake his hand.  One part Rum, one part Butter, One part… Hot.  This drink is perfect for the holidays.  It’s a rich, smooth beverage that tastes like a bit of heaven.  It’s ideally enjoyed over several rounds, and at a place where you don’t plan on driving anytime soon.  Hopefully in front of a fireplace, and preferably while wearing a turtleneck or hand-knit sweater (Thanks, grandma).

Here is a great Hot Buttered Rum Recipe:

What you’ll need:
2 Quarts hot water
2 1/2 Cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
Pinch of Salt
4+ Sticks of Cinnamon
6-8 whole cloves
1/5 Teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg
Heavy Cream
Oh and rum.  2 cups of it.

Flemish painter, Ariaen Brouwer’s rendition of a Son-in-law receiving an Essential Oils kit as a Christmas gift, despite a clearly itemized list that contained no such thing.

Directions:

Mix Water, Sugar, Salt, cinnamon and cloves into a crockpot or slow cooker and stir.  (Add or remove Cinnamon/cloves to desired taste).
Cook on High for 2 hours
Turn down heat, insert rum and stir
Serve from pot into mugs.
Top with whipped cream and nutmeg.  Add a cinnamon stick if you want to be really special and convince people that while you may not be an adult and have no idea what you’re doing in life, at least you know how to garnish a drink.

  1. Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is a fancy way of saying, “I’d like you to cook off everything but the booze, please.”  It’s pretty easy, you start with wine. You heat it up.  You add a bunch of cloves and cinnamon and maybe an orange peel and maybe even a shot of spiced rum, because why the hell not?  It’s your weekend, you’ve worked all year for this time off.  Also, if you have to hear Uncle Bert talk one more time about his new timeshare in Saskatchewan you might lose it.

Here’s just one option:

1 (750ml) bottle of red wine (not sweet)
1 Orange (sliced into rounds)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of brandy
1/4 cup honey
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise

Directions:

Combine everything and bring to simmer.  Something like Medium-high heat, but don’t boil it (that’s how you lose alcohol and therefore patience for that special in-law in your life).
Cook to desired flavor.  Some cook as short as 20 minutes, other will slow cook that puppy for 3-4 hours.  The longer it cooks, the more intense the spiced flavors will be.
Once finished, strain out the schmutz.
Pour and garnish with a citrus wheel, some cinnamon or cloves or all four.

  1. Barley Wine

Here’s the deal about Barley Wine: it’s not actually wine.  It’s beer.  But it’s aged a hell of a lot longer with a boat load of delicious spices.  Barley Wine is the type of beer you sip on, doing keg stands with something like this will get you a visit to the ER, pronto.  It usually sits between 11 and 15% abv.  Meaning you might only need one or two to be able to tolerate listening to your father-in-law’s story about that time he thought he met John Cleese but it was just a guy that only looked like him.

Typically barley wine is sold in bombers, 22oz glass bottles, and usually has a pretty hefty price tag slapped on it, because it’s seasonal.  More importantly, because it’s effective.  Wanna know how to properly feign happiness when you open a magic trick set from you mother-in-law as a twenty-seven-year-old?  You get sauced.  And  for the efficiency of a 15% beer, really there’s no price tag that isn’t worth paying.

  1. Regular Wine

A classic.  There was a Greek God of Wine.  You know what Dionysus didn’t have?  In-laws.  Enough said.  This beverage is best enjoyed in a glass.  It’s OK to drink a bottle in a single night, but not from the bottle.  That’s how you make a scene during Thanksgiving.

  1. A Baltimore Eggnog

Look. At. That. Fucking. Garnish. Holy shit, right? For all we know, that glass if filled with milk so spoiled that we should call it yogurt. But the garnish, see how it just makes everything look good? Note: this only works on drinks.  Do not, DO NOT, pepper nutmeg on your face and post it to your Tinder Profile.  The powder gets everywhere and it burns.  In the likely case that you’ve already done this and you’re currently reading this blog from behind watering eyes, just play it off as irony and hope that someone of the opposite sex takes pity on you.

Baltimore is great at two things: crime and Eggnog, apparently.  We’ll stick with the Eggnog.  Here’s the beauty about eggnog: Sometimes it’s not alcoholic.  That means that when you’re stumble-drunk and knocking over picture frames in the living room, you can just blame it on a bad case of vertigo after taking a tepid sip of your, “Child-friendly, alcohol-free eggnog.”  Note: this only works if there is also alcohol free eggnog being offered.

Eggnog is also great for finding out who the square is.

“I’m sorry, is there alcohol in this eggnog?”

“Yes!  Of course, there is!  What are you, six years old?”

“Actually, yes.”

“Hands off the eggnog!”

Here’s a delicious recipe that I didn’t take from another blog:

12 eggs, separated
2 cups of SUPERFINE sugar
1 pint of brandy
1/2 pint of light rum
1/2 pint of peach brandy
3 pints of milk
1 pint of heavy cream
Nutmeg.

With Egg whites separated, beat the egg yolks with sugar until thick.
Slowly stir in the good stuff (brandy, rum, peach brandy, milk and the cream) then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled or until you lose your patience.
Move to punch bowl.
Beat egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the eggnog.
Grate nutmeg on top and serve in 4-ounce glasses.  Nutmeg make it taste a bit better and people think you have your shit together.
Enjoy.

Note: consumption of raw eggs can lead to food borne illnesses.  In other news, consumption of alcohol can make you a bit tossed.

  1. Spanish Coffee

Being a bartender is really fun.  Plus, I think it’s the coolest position in the restaurant.  There’s a reason Tom Cruise didn’t play a busboy and the women on Coyote Ugly weren’t fry cooks.  But here’s the problem with bartending: it’s so cool to start with, it’s hard to elevate it’s coolness even more.  There is a way, however, that your awesome factor can go through the roof.  (Note: this works in almost every other capacity of life to make things cooler.)  How is it done, exactly?

You light that shit on fire.

Spanish coffee, on its own, is just a bit of rum, coffee and a sugared rim.  But when applying flame, the cocktail becomes way cooler.

Look at that damn drink. Isn’t it inviting? Doesn’t it just scream, “I want these holidays to feel OK”? It’s so good looking, you didn’t even notice Tom Cruise in a Bear suit. Stare at it long enough and you’ll see him appear!

What you’ll need:
GOOD coffee (not that instant crap)
Whipped Cream
Kahlua
151 Rum
Cinnamon Sugar
Orange
Nutmeg

Run a orange slice along the rim of your coffee mug, then coat the rim with Cinnamon Sugar
Pour 1/2 oz or less of 151 Rum.
LIGHT THE RUM ON FIRE!
Swirl the mug around until the flame starts to caramelize the sugared rim. (Do you feel cool yet?)
Smother flame with a bit of coffee (not more booze)
Add 1.5oz of Kahlua
Top with coffee
Top with Whipped cream
Sprinkle on a bit of nutmeg for the Instagram photo
Feel like Tom Cruise

(Impress all your friends with this drink, just don’t burn the house down.)

There you have it!  If these six techniques don’t help you deal with the in-laws this holiday season, you might want to seek mental health counseling or consider a medically induced coma for the duration of their stay.