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Dec. 19 Secret Santa

I never know what to get. Is there anything worse than a Secret Santa gift exchange at your work's holiday party? You spend hours every day with these people, yet you never really get to know them. When in doubt, I used to always reach for my own personal cop-out gift, a bottle of something to take the winter sting away.

Hello again, my thirsty readers. 2020 has reared it's ugly head in so many ways, it can be hard to find the silver lining at times. We can't really see our families, and any holiday fun is almost surely canceled at this point. Perhaps one of the only positives would have to be the elimination of those awkwardly drunken office holiday parties. Let's take a little trip back in time to see where this debauched tradition began in the first place.


Okay, so maybe the mid-century idea of the office party was fading long before COVID made an appearance. One thing is for sure though, this pandemic has shown a lot of companies they don't even need the physical office in the first place. I wouldn't be surprised if working from home becomes a constant for more Americans as we move forward. If that's the case, how will they embarrass themselves once a year?

During their peak in the 1950s and 60s, office Christmas parties were when all employees would let loose twelve months of pent-up frustration drowned in cocktails and tiny snacks. Remember that episode of Mad Men when they filled the water cooler with gin and creme de menthe? Yeah, that's the kinda stuff I'm talking about here. Originally intended to boost moral, most people generally stuck to their already-established office friends, hence the need for free-flowing booze.

Office Christmas parties culturally became an obligation. It was thought, at one time, that skipping the office party was like telling off your boss. That same boss, after all, shelled out all this money for food and drinks, just so you could feel uncomfortable and make a fool of yourself. Gee thanks boss! It was just expected you'd be there. It was this crude form of corporate schmoozing. Over time, of course, this whole tradition thankfully fell out of style.

I haven't spent much time in the corporate office universe myself. I'm a spirit shaker afterall! I only have restaurant Christmas parties to go from, but these, as you can imagine, were never tame either. Oh the stories I could tell. I've walked in on coworkers having sex in the bathroom, drugs being consumed in the walk-in, and one time, a drunk coworker even tried to fist-fight me over a game of beer pong. Yes, the decadent land of professional drunken revelry is still alive and well in my line of work. Luckily, I stepped away from that some time ago. I have skipped holiday work functions for years now, and I still have to hear about it. Maybe some things never change.

It's easy for us to romanticize those Mad Men eras. It was a time where we felt unstoppable. Cost of living actually reflected a salary you could achieve, and hard work might finally be rewarded with that oh so glorious idea of the American Dream. You'd better not skip that holiday party though. In our current virtual world, these walking-lawsuits of office mixers are probably never going to return though. Let's keep it that way. If anything, please don't bring back the Secret Santa gift exchange. I never know what to buy.


Secret Santa

1oz Cognac

.5oz Aged Jamaican Rum

.25oz Creme de Menthe

1.5oz Vermouth Rosso

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

1 dash Absinthe

Cocktail Coupe

Stir and strain into a chilled glass.

Garnish with torched rosemary sprig.

*For this drink, I wanted to combine two classics that might be enjoyed in that bygone era, the Stinger and Manhattan. Nothing screams Christmas and mid-century quite like the Stinger, with is silky and minty mouthfeel. The addition of Vermouth is a no-brainer of course, lengthening that booze, so your party doesn't end too soon.*


Maybe a Zoom Christmas party will be the new normal. Think about it for a moment. You can make a fool of yourself in the comfort of your own home. That creep from accounting can't try and grope you, you can switch to pajamas at at time, and best of all, there's no Secret Santa. Look at me, changing the landscape of office politics! Less than a week to go my friends. Keep you chin up, and keep shaking.


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