Umpty million things can happen before the day comes to an end. Something can go astray at work, a few drinks can lead to a lot of drinks, or you’re planning for Friday, but it’s only Tuesday. How do you bring it all together and hit the hay with all the components of life nicely Feng shui’d? There is an answer, though it does have an * because you can take it any direction you like, but ultimately the nightcap is your answer to the closure of the day.
The nightcap is more than the silky stocking that Ebenezer Scrooge wears to bed with a candlestick in hand as he stumbles over the creaking boards of his desolate home. It is not a beer or cocktail. It is not a shot or Pina Colada. It is not a Swisher or a Camel. Well, maybe it’s whatever you want it to be, as it is the end to your night. But, there are few caps that are a little friendlier than the others and when it all boils down to it, whatever gets you passed the couch, the porcelain throne and into your bed is what matters most.
Most will say the nightcap is made at home, as the night is concluding. Some believe the parting cup shouldn’t have any Kirkland mixers or high sugar counts, it shouldn’t be clear or mixed with soda (water or pop), nor should it be finished with a round of final cup sinking high fives. It seems fair to say that we can all agree that the nightcap is supposed to be the final indulgence of the evening and in theory, a text to the brain indicating that the party is over — whether or not that text is delivered, read and comprehended is a whole ‘nother story.
So where do you begin, what do you pour, but really, what’s on the bar cart, in the cabinet or fridge/freezer?
Let us say you have a well-stocked liquor cabinet, with all the flavors and colors of the rainbow. And let’s say you’re acting a little more mature than usual, totally conscious of everything that is going on and you’ve got a few buddies over. The easiest pour will always be the brown candy. A couple of fingers of scotch or whiskey, neat, is a sure-fire closure to the evening. The NC should be settling the senses as you work your way through the glass. It should warm the soul like you’re preheating your personal oven before you hop under the comforter. And as the preheat bell rings, the scotch neat is the one that lays the smokey haze over the eyelids and has you saying goodnight Kevin.
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, there isn’t anything wrong with classing it up a bit. You can make a cocktail, but keep it all alcohol and avoid the margarita mix and RedBull. This is not a time to bring out Samantha. Again, the nightcap should be easily constructed and simple in its intent. The French Connection is the perfect example as a two-flavor pour that will have the sheep jumping over you. It’s equal parts Cognac and Amaretto, and all parts delicious. Served with a big cube, if you have the fancy ice trays, the Cognac is smooth and syrupy adding to the almond notes of the Amaretto leaving you feeling like you took a straw to a Maple Tree in Vermont with a 1… 2…. 3…. nighty night, tuck you into bed.
Now if you’re looking for a little something, something to send you off to la la land co-piloting Oceanic 815, the Sleepytime Toddy is sure to boast one of the best nights of sleep you will have had since middle school before life started to get real. You probably know the Hot Toddy; whiskey, lemon, honey, and hot water. It’s simple, it’s fantabulous and it cranks up the floor heater on your innards. It’s perfect at any point of the day when the weather is shit and temps are below freezing, it’s great when you convince yourself that alcohol helps fight off a cold, but it’s even better when you add a bag of Sleepytime Tea to the rolling bubble. The soothing herbs, light chamomile, cool spearmint and fresh lemongrass mixed with the honey, lemon and whiskey transpire into a night of deep sleep, where dreams guide you on a journey through Fantasia with Atreyu.
Now, it’s not written in stone that the nightcap has to be a boozed libation, it can be whatever you like as long as the mouse gets his cookie. After a long day at the office, tiptoeing around the dance floor or happy hour turning into the last call, sometimes the answer is plopping on the couch to calm the storm with David Attenborough’s soft and educated voice. And while he is narrating the intricate footwork of the Birds of Paradise, why not pull out the dime bag and burn one down. After all the nightcap is supposed to be a soothing surrender to the day. Or if you’re feeling really crazy, some people even drink water before they go to bed. It’s a crazy thought to put something beneficial in the body over a strikeout or hole in the wall 24hr burrito, but some people actually do it. And to better the h2o, some have even been known to take their water heated.
When it’s all said and done, it’s your end of the night. You are free to choose any path you like from your front door to the bedroom, with as many pitstops as you wish. The important thing to remember is that you should take a moment to bring it all back together, taking a second to get a grasp of the realities of your recent decisions and giving your body a chance cool down the jets before a hopeful 8hrs of hibernation. And if nothing from the above sounds enticing, maybe a glass of warm milk with Wonderwall playing the background is exactly what you need to find your chi and slip into the sought after slumber.
“I could come in for a nightcap.” – James Bond