Last week brought the sort of bitter cold that makes one reconsider a four-year commitment to the prestigious Yale University. As my friends and I slowly defrosted around the dining hall table one night, we discussed the few things out there that might warm a soul in such wintry weather.
“A roaring bonfire,” suggested one. A bit of melted snow slowly trickled down his face.
“A hot-blooded young stud,” another said wistfully.
Much more feasible.
Though New Haven is chilly these days, it is nothing compared to that of our next-door neighbor. Thus, when in doubt, do as the Russians do, and drink some good vodka to warm yourself up. Veslovsky in “Anna Karenina” praises the vodka given to him by peasants as the best he’s ever had, but if you lack acquaintances from the Russian countryside, try Zyr or Jewel of Russia (around $35 each). Drink it straight from an ice-cold shot glass that has been chilled in the freezer. Do not substitute with Smirnoff or Absolut; though more widely available, they are generally of a poorer distillation since they are meant to be consumed in a mixed drink.
Unfortunately, with the snow and slush comes the cold — the kind that takes campus by storm. A better remedy than your typical Dayquil is “the cure,” a mixture containing bourbon that is especially useful for sore throats. In a coffee mug, mix a tablespoon of honey and a shot or two of bourbon. Squeeze in a slice of lemon and fill the mug with boiling water. Stir and sip. You’ll be feeling better in no time.
For those who prefer something sweeter, there is nothing more satisfying or delicious than Bailey’s and hot chocolate after a day out in the cold. This concoction is fairly straightforward — I leave the proportions to your discretion. Godiva liqueur is a more-than-adequate alternative, especially for those chocolate-lovers.
Next time you go out for dinner, opt for hot sake instead of the perennial favorite, sake-bombing. At Miya’s on Howe Street, they have a wide-selection of house sakes that are for the most part well-made and memorable. The Chinese firecracker sake, infused with aged hot chili pepper and citrus, is particularly good, a perfect combination of sweet with a slight tinge of tanginess. It burns pleasantly all the way down to your stomach and, as the menu states, is “not for the meek.”
Another classic for the cold-weathered times is, of course, mulled wine: red wine that has been sweetened and infused with spices. Though it may be hard to make your own at Yale, it is too much of a winter tradition to ignore, and one of the few good ones to boot. Here is the classic recipe from “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management.” There is now a reason to discover those kitchens within the depths of the residential colleges.