SINGAPORE: Chinese New Year can be a time of indulgence. Numerous house visits to catch up with close family and friends means pineapple tarts, bak kwa, love letters, grandma’s popiah, once-a-year marathon ban-luck sessions and, sometimes, a whole lot of beer and whisky to go with the day.
Not that we’re complaining about getting festive. Absolutely not. It’s just that sometimes people can get a little too festive with their booze, and before you know it, words are said and there’s a new family feud between Uncle No 4 and Aunty No 7.
Yes, it’s all fun and games till someone cries inheritance.
So if you’re hosting the “fun house party” this year (that’s the house visit with alcohol), here are some tasty ways to moderate the all-day merriment so you can still enjoy the season without starting the Year of the Dog with someone in the doghouse.
GET CRAFTY WITH YOUR BEER
While cans of Tiger or Carlsberg beer are what’s usually served up at house visits, their light and refreshing flavour profile means guests may find themselves consuming more than they should without even noticing. They’re almost too easy to drink.
Consider stocking up on craft beers – these tend to have stronger, more unique flavours that will help slow the pace of drinking. Extra bonus: Local craft beers like Punchin’ Rye and Sunday’s Brew from Rye & Pint Brewery pair very nicely with local food you’ll no doubt be ordering in.
EXTEND THE TASTE OF YOUR WHISKY
If you want to enjoy a little whisky through the day, don’t start serving it neat or on the rocks. Instead, lengthen the drink: Fill a tall glass with ice, add one part whisky to about four parts soda, give it a stir and enjoy. If you have any lemons available, a slice of it works great as a garnish.
This highball-style whisky serve lets the bubbles in the soda open up the flavours of the whisky, and helps to manage the amount of alcohol consumed with each sip.
UPGRADE YOUR GIN & TONIC
The classic Gin & Tonic is very much a daytime beverage. And since it is Chinese New Year, how about adding a dose of Asian citrus to your conventional mix?
Get a good pinch of pomelo and muddle it in the glass before adding the gin and tonic water. The added tanginess from the pomelo will help accentuate the flavours of the gin so you can dial down on the amount of spirit you add. This citrus addition works well with London Dry gins like Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire.
MAKE THE MOST OF THOSE ORANGES
You’ve got a fridge full of Mandarin oranges and guests are bringing bottles of wine that you suspect may have been extracted from a CNY hamper they received. What do you do? You make a CNY Sangria.
Simply mix two chilled bottles of red wine in a large bowl or pitcher, add about a quarter cup of fine sugar and a shot of dark spirit like brandy or rum, throw in some cut Mandarin oranges, stir well and you’ve got a punch bowl of sangria that everyone can happily enjoy in disposable paper cups.
Best of all, people tend to drink slower when they have to get up and help themselves.
Sometimes guests want to have the taste of a boozy beverage without actually consuming a full serve of alcohol. While you could sheepishly serve up non-alcoholic beer and be judged by your peers, we suggest you try a simple mix of bitters and soda.
Just add a few dashes of bitters (Angostura Bitters is the classic choice, but don’t be afraid to experiment) to a tall glass of ice and fill with soda. You’ll get a surprisingly tasty drink that’s extremely light and refreshing without having to worry about the cousins going overboard.
ONE LAST TIP
Do not let your guests drive. While the suggestions above should help everyone keep a clearer head, their cars should be kept at home if you’re planning on serving up a tipple or three. Be a good host and remind them.