It may be a hallowed New Year's Eve tradition to "take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne," but there are times when the side effect ranges anywhere from uncomfortable to lethal.
That is why several area bartenders have joined forces with First Night Annapolis to create some non-alcoholic cups that, while kind, will enhance the party without rendering the party-goer inoperative the next day.
Recently, First Night Annapolis Inc. displayed the fruits of their labors at a taste testing upstairs at Middleton's Tavern in Annapolis. The results proved delicious and easy to prepare.
At Middleton's, Tom Roskelly, public information director for the city of Annapolis, was asked his opinion of these non-hangover helpers.
"I think's it a good idea and fits in well with the family aspect of what we're trying to do on New Year's Eve," he said. "(First Night Annapolis) is being promoted as a family alternative."
"We all understand that the restaurants, bars and lounges have been doing New Year's Eve business for a long time, Middleton's since 1750, and that there'll be a certain consumption of the standard fare," he said. "But this is a pretty good idea, to emphasize the non-alcoholic alternative."
Beth Farley, a bartender at Mum's Grill, contributed a drink called the Poinsettia, "which is champagne (non-alcoholic sparkling cider) and cranberry juice. Very simple, but very good." The proportions may differ according to individual taste.
Middleton's bartender Lisa Krissof ("that's Kissoff -- with an R") provided two non-alcoholic recipes for New Year's.
"The first," she said, "is a drink that's famous in a restaurant called Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. It's called a Belleni, and what I use is a non-alcoholic champagne and peach nectar. The second is a Virgin Peppermint Paddy."
The key difference between that drink and the real thing, she said, was the lack of peppermint schnapps. Instead, drop a candy cane into the hot chocolate, and cover with fresh whipped cream.
It makes a nice warming drink on a cold night (like New Year's), but the whipped cream makes a straw essential for those with beards or mustaches.
Rick Marx of the Ram's Head Tavern also had two drinks to demonstrate.
"It's called a Pink Ginger, and it's made with ginger ale, a splash of sour mix, and some grenadine," he said.
His second offering had a more traditional bent. "It's a version of a recipe called a New Wassail. Wassail is normally made with mulled wine, and New Wassail is made with rum," he said. The version he was offering for First Night was made with hot cider and garnished with a cinnamon stick.
In the best tradition of the culinary artists, most of the drink recipes offered tended to be non-specific, a "splash" of this, or "some" of that.
But from Angela DiCenzo, bar manager at Carol's Creek over in Eastport, and her colleague, banquet manager Kathleen Sherry, came Lafayette's Libation, one of the more elaborate of the holiday drinks demonstrated:
-cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cups Canadian Spring Key Lime
8 sprigs fresh mint
1 cups sugar
6 cups ginger beer
Garnish: thin cup lemon slice and sprig of fresh mint.
Rinse the mint, discarding the stems, and set aside 10 sprigs for garnish in a bowl of ice. Mix eight sprigs of mint. Place sugar, Canadian Spring Key Lime and lemon juice in medium size bowl. Mix and stir in muddled mint leaves. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.
Fill large pitcher with ice, strain the liquid from the bowl over the ice. Add ginger beer.
Serve with lemon slice and fresh mint sprig garnish.
At these proportions, it makes 10 eight-ounce glasses.