12 Book and Booze Pairings That'll Get You Through The Holidays

Booze and the holidays go together like milk and cookies. (Speaking of milk and cookies, you should definitely add milk and cookies to every single one of these booze and book pairings.) Anyway, the right combination of book and booze can pretty much guarantee that you have a holiday that you won’t forget, or… well… one that you will, if that’s what you’re looking for.

The first 21 (let’s be real: 16 ) years of your holidays was all hot chocolate and sitting at the kids' table, but now you’re all grown up and heading home means sitting at the big kids' table, complete with all the melodrama and explaining why you still aren’t married that comes along with the privilege of being an adult. Happily, this also means that you’re allowed to indulge in “big kid” treats as well. And you’ll need them after the fifth time Aunt Mary tries to set you up with the poor young co-worker she managed to drag along to the family holiday party.

And seeing as you can’t possibly trust your loved ones to gift you books that you’ll actually read, you should probably bring your own reading material as well. So, to perfect your holiday experience, make sure you’ve got the right book and booze pairing for the holidays situation you're trapped in. Try some of these.

1. Hot Toddy and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

You’ve had a long year, not unlike Santiago’s 84-day unlucky streak in The Old Man and The Sea. But it’s almost over now, and, unlike Santiago, you don’t have to fight a big mean fish and about 50 sharks on the cold sea to break 2015’s streak of craziness. Nope, you just sit there in front of the fire place with your hot cup of sweet whiskey and tea while the family argues over which “grown ups” still have to sit at the kids table. Keep the spirit of Hemingway alive and double the dose of whiskey in that toddy.

2. Hot Milk Punch and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

You haven’t seen the fam all year and you just want to bask in all the hugs and happy. Keep the warm fuzzies going with a sweet, fluffy book like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (it’s very different from the movie, but also really really great), and sweeten things up even more with a cup of hot milk punch (with a solid helping of sugar and an even bigger helping of dark rum or sweet bourbon). With the proper hot milk punch to Fried Green Tomatoes ratio you’ll have the whole fam full of the mushies, and it’ll make the next day’s goodbye’s delightfully awkward and easy, since you’ll have gotten all the hugs out in a boozy mush-fest the night before.

3. Mulled Wine and Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

When you need to be a little more sophisticated in your holiday celebrations, you can’t go wrong with a nice glass of mulled red wine. Mulled wines mix of sweet and spicy is the perfect for any professional situation, and while Vanity Fair might not fit into that stylish clutch you brought to the party, studying up on Becky Sharp’s keen observation and perfect charm (maybe minus the soulless social climbing) before hitting the office holiday party will put you in the perfect mood to charm a raise out of the CEO.

4. Hot Buttered Rum and The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker

So your family’s idea of the holidays is less casseroles and carols, smiles and singing, and more drama and not-so-subtle criticism of your life choices? Dorothy Parker’s got just the right dose of attitude and wit for exactly that situation (and plenty of others). Bring the snark this holiday season with a little Dorothy Parker and pair it with a nice spiced rum that’ll match Parker’s spicy wit, and you’ll escape the holidays stylishly and unscathed.

5. Eggnog and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Maybe you’re a Christmas junkie. Maybe your whole family does Christmas to the traditional T — the lights, the stockings, the caroling, the nog, the chestnuts roasting on an open fire... In that case, you can’t go wrong with a good old classic eggnog and the classic Christmas tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the resilience of the Christmas spirit.

6. Chocolate Martini and Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

There’s something about the holidays that makes you nostalgic for the good old days of footie pajamas and praying that a Barbie dream car shows up under the Christmas tree. Ocean at the End of the Lane is a great mix of fantasy and nostalgia, perfect for the trip home. Pair it with a chocolate martini (hot chocolate for classy grownups) and you’ll feel a big kid again, but manage to keep all of your adult sensibilities.

7. Mimosa and A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

A fizzy mimosa is a great way to cure your hangover and stave off any unpleasant memories of all the embarrassing things you did last night. A Scanner Darkly is just the book to make you feel better about yourself. The novel’s main protagonist Fred/Bob, who’s into whatever substance D is, is definitely into harder stuff than you are. Next to him, you definitely don’t look like the family black sheep/wino.

8. Gin and Tonic and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

What else says winter wonderland better than a glass of liquor that tastes like a giant Christmas tree ground up and stuffed in your mouth? Pair it with a novel in which a substance called Ice-9 literally freezes over the world’s water supply making Earth a permanent winter “wonderland,” and you’ll have a darkly humorous story that’ll remind you to find a way to laugh even when the world outside is brutally cold.

9. Mead and The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper

This is one you can read with the kids (or your little cousins). You can both enjoy the Christmas adventures of 11-year-old Will Stanton as he uses his newfound powers as an “Old One” tasked with protecting the world from evil. With it’s Lord of the Rings/Arthurian England setting, a nice mug of mead will be just the thing to wash down this fun adventure, and probably make you a more exciting narrator for your young cousins.

10. Spiked Apple Cider and Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

Following the lives of twin sisters, the daughters of Russian Jewish immigrants as they grow up in the Lower East Side in a world of Eastern European immigrants, Unterzakhn is the kind of book that will put you in a nostalgic reverie, even feeling a certain warmth about the not-so-great times. The vastly different tracks that their lives take and the ways this pushes them apart and draws them together will have you wanting to catch up with your own siblings over a warm drink. Make that drink a spiced apple cider and you’ll both be reminiscing about the old days and catching up on the new ones in no time.

11. Bourbon, Neat and Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston

One of the best parts about the holidays for some families is the elders. They’ve got all the good stories and after a glass or two of their favorite drink they’ll tell them all — the wild, unbelievable stories, the stories about the old days, and the embarrassing ones about when you were a kid. Mules and Men is sort of like being in a room full of your favorite uncles and grandparents as they tell all these wild stories. Get in the spirit with grandpa’s favorite drink — a simple glass of bourbon, and you’ll be feeling the holiday spirit in no time.

12. Bailey's Spiked Hot Chocolate and Chocolat by Joanne Harris

The holidays aren’t just about family and warm feelings. They’re also about desserts! Milk and cookies and pies and hot chocolate! So indulge your sweet tooth with a Bailey's spiked hot chocolate and add a little chocolate-infused magic with the fantastical story of a chocolate shop that enlivens a whole town.

Image: personal creations/Flickr