003: Happy Fucking New Year

We're drinking!

Hello! Happy last day of 2020! We both ended up writing about booze this week, which feels fitting.

We also hear that we’re supposed to be ~engaging~ on the social medias, so join us for an Instagram Live tonight at 5pm ET. Come in your pjs, come in your best dress, come naked, whatever. Just come! We’ll be chatting about what we’re drinking and answering any burning questions you feel like dropping us about makeup, cheese, or literally anything else. Afterwards, we’ll be heading to our favorite celebrity couple Emily Schultz and Will Ryan’s 8pm IG live where they’ll chat, taste seltzer, and donate to The Locker Project. It’s like a real NYE where you have multiple parties to go to, but on the internet!

And now, our feature presentation.

Part I: To All the Cocktails I’ve Love Before

Taylore: Lately, I find myself stuck in another pandemic time loop: the home-for-the-holidays edition. I work until six-ish, cook dinner for the family, work out, then watch TV and shop online until 4 a.m. I got a promotion last week, so I treated myself to a mint green three-piece Agent Provocateur set that I am choosing not to link to. (The plan is to wear it around my apartment under this insane Anna Sui robe some anonymous angel sent me, set my hair in hot rollers, and drink something lethal out of my new coupe glasses.) I also indulged in some sensible pieces from Everlane—in my defense, I’m typically a more prudent shopper and I had a reserve of unused gift cards—and a small book haul so my brain doesn’t completely smooth over:

But on to more festive things! For obvious reasons, we’ll be talking about alcohol this week. And thanks to a little digging in my parents’ liquor cabinet, I’ve found the cocktail with which I’ll be ushering out the shittiest year of our lives.

My uncle was the U.S. ambassador to Estonia awhile back, and one Christmas Eve, he brought some bottles back from the capitol. One was Kümmel, a caraway liqueur I quickly became obsessed with, and the other was Vana Tallinn, which we ended up taking home. Rum-based and spiked with citrus, warming spices, and a touch of vanilla, it’s like winter in a bottle. So whenever a boozy mood strikes, I shake up a what’s essentially a whiskey sour with a Baltic twist:

2oz Woodford bourbon

3/4oz Vana Tallinn

3/4oz lemon juice

3/4oz fig simple syrup (plain will do just fine here)

1 egg white

While we’re on the subject of drinking, I’m going to take a moment and wax poetic about a few of the New York cocktails I’ve been missing the most lately.

A Vesper, The Polo Bar: In my humble O, this is the best martini on the island. It’s elegant and perfectly balanced and no matter how often I order one elsewhere, nothing compares to The Polo Bar’s interpretation. Still, I’ll take what I can get, so the vesper has become my friend group’s dinner party cocktail of choice: we mix up a punchbowl full, let go, and let God. The next morning, my apartment usually looks like shit and there are bloated lemon peels hammocked in every unwashed glass. I miss it.

A New York Sour, Prune: Oh, to be sitting alone at this bar vibing to Kate Bush with a plate of fried pistachios and figs. Hi, Karla! My last apartment was a few doors down from the restaurant, so I spent a hefty chunk of my salary here (I actually used to live in the unit next to Gabrielle Hamilton’s, and I was utterly uncool about it. I’ve never been more intimidated in my life.) I often have a hard time choosing between a whiskey and a glass of red, and the NYS remains the perfect compromise.

An Espresso Martini, Hotel Delmano: I’ve had a lot of crappy espresso martinis. They’re often oversaturated with cloying liqueurs, tragically uncaffeinated, and somehow kind of warm? This one, however, is elite. It’s well-rounded and perfectly bitter, and it’s impossible to say no to another round.

A House Gin and Tonic with Extra Lime, literally fucking anywhere: Things have gotten so dire that I’ve been craving one of those too-strong well drinks I used to hate overpaying for but would now do anything to nurse. And yeah whatever, I can make one at home, but do you know what I can’t recreate? A dive-y bathroom that smells like piss, Robyn playing full blast with a hundred people crammed together singing along, and a welcome kiss from the nearest warm body when the ball drops.

Anyways, fuck this year. Cheers to 2021!

Part II: And Now, Champagne

Christine: For someone who is decidedly middle class, I drink an ungodly amount of Champagne. It feels celebratory, glamorous, and also happens to be great with just about anything you could possibly be eating.

I know that, for many, Champagne feels like a ridiculous splurge. Granted, I spend more per bottle than some folks budget for their at-home wine—usually $40ish is my Champagne average. But, you get 5 or so glasses out of said bottle, meaning it’s $8 a glass. When’s the last time you paid $8 for a glass of something extraordinary?

I grew up very Mormon, and in my super orthodox childhood, never expected that I’d even taste wine, so I feel especially grateful to have a life that includes Champagne. Every glass is a reminder that I get to craft my own life, and that doing so is very beautiful indeed.

I especially love grower Champagne, meaning the people who grow the grapes make the wine (as opposed to the big houses, who make their wine with grapes they purchased). It has more character than your Dom and Veuve and also tends to be more affordable.

I know it’s not an inexpensive purchase (even if you have a sense of how many styles there are and which you prefer, which most of us don’t), and I’m lucky to have worked in a cheese + wine education program where I tasted lots of wine that I didn’t have to personally shell out for. But, if you’re willing to try it out, drinking real Champagne is such a dream. And, don’t we all deserve a dreamy 2021 after the trash fire that’s been 2021?

Here are a few of my favorites   

Perseval-Farge, 1er Cru Brut Réserve at Astor Wines

This in magnum is what I bring to parties (remember those?). Astor usually has the 750mL bottle for $30, which is a total steal. This is my friends with benefits Champagne—I don’t want to marry it, but I sure do like to hit it up for a good time.

Made by Isabelle & Benoist Perseval in the village of Chamery, Astor’s tasting notes for this are “Judicious servings of citrus, toasty bread, a touch of cream, and sculpted minerals.” In other words, everything you’d want from a weeknight bottle of Champagne. At least 40% of this is reserve wine (wines from past vintages), giving it the loveliest layers of complexity. But, it’s not something you have to sit reverently and ponder to enjoy. It’s there to show you a good time, and I can tell you from lots of firsthand experience that is, in fact, a very good time.  

J. Lassalle, "Préference" Brut 1er Cru  at Astor Wines

This one feels soooo luxurious while still being reasonably priced ($6.60 per glass at that sale price!). I love anything from J. Lassalle, and this bottle is the one I tend to keep around the most.

The magic behind it, aside from being made by glorious Champagne dames using traditional methods, is that it’s allowed to complete malolactic fermentation (sometimes called malo). This means that the malic acid (think crisp green apple) transforms into lactic acid (think milk, cream, etc), giving your wine a richer, creamier feel. 🍏 ➡️🥛

Red wines almost always complete malo, some white wines do, and bubbly sometimes does, but it’s not common with true Champagne. 

Thanks to that extra opulence—think of the difference between a cotton sweater and one made of cashmere—it pairs especially well with just about everything. Lovely with cheese, of course, but also with any fried food. I love a good bodega burger with fries + J. Lassalle situation. But, I think it’s best enjoyed with pancakes and bacon for breakfast, especially with a friend or someone cute who slept over.

Coulon "Heri-Hodie" 1er Cru, Brut at Astor Wines

This Organic Champagne was a 2020 find for me and wow is she a beauty. It has each of the three primary Champagne grapes: 60% Pinot Meunier, then about 20% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Pinot Meunier is kind of the Solange of three grapes, as opposed to the Beyoncé status that both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have, and I honestly think it deserves more credit. Here is Wine Folly’s graphic on the primary flavors of Pinot Meunier, each of which I find in this wine.  

It’s elegant, fruity, and floral (major Oscar De La Renta vibes, y’all) and I think the prettiest of the 3. It’s a little pricier at $45, but well worth your time. And, depending on how many folks you’re drinking with/how much you personally want to drink, I think it’s both very fun and very intellectually interesting to taste this next to something like either of the two previously mentioned to start to understand the depth and range that Champagne has to offer.

If you join us tonight for the live, I’ll be drinking one of these three! I don’t have Coulon around at the moment, but am deciding between the other two.

Cheers to more Champagne in 2021!

Part III: Some Poems to Start 2021 Off Right

Christine: Poetry has been so important to me this year. I read it like I used to read my Mormon scriptures—reverently, gratefully, and often. It’s sustained me, uplifted me, and perhaps most importantly, made me feel less alone on hard days. We’re all silly overgrown monkeys with a relatively short time to experience the joys and confusions that are mortality and poetry has helped me remember that suffering is inevitable, but joy and meaning are mine to pursue. That paragraph is going to leave me with a vulnerability hangover after I send this, but it’s all true!

One of my favorite ways to discover new poems this year has been the incredible Instagram account Poetry is Not a Luxury. This is neither the first nor the last time that I will rave about them. Anyway, we asked them to curate a few poems for us to start out the new year, which they kindly did (THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN!), and I’ve been giddy all week at the chance to share them with you. They sent two pairs of poems, and without further ado:

The love poems

Decade by Amy Lowell 

A Drinking Song by W.B. Yeats

The self love for a new year poems

Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye

Love After Love By Derek Walcott

What more is there to say? Happy New Year, friends. Thank you for reading Creamline, and we’ll see you in 2021.