adoration: (1) The state or condition of adoring, which is more or less like a state or condition or loving, but with antiseptic properties, the aroma of white linen, and the taste of weak, warm chamomile tea; (2) an unspecific expanse of time, e.g., “I’ve been waiting for quite adoration to get my 12-piece McNuggets.”
angel: (1) A mythical being, possibly of either sex or ungendered, found or claimed to be common enough in heaven, hospitals, and on battle fields, but found chiefly in Victoria’s Secrets advertisements, catwalks, and the tabletops of strip-clubs; (2) the name of approximately one-in-14,000 Chinese girls born between 1980 and 1990. The former are often responsible for annunciations and are known to be present in delusions, while one-in-six of the latter are often totally irresponsible and thoroughly delusional with respect to the aptness of their name.
annunciation: (1) Notice of something too important for a text or Tweet, although rumors abound that Gabriel has followed the Supreme Pontiff’s lead and opened a WeChat; the word refers most often to an event requiring polished shoes and shirts with collars, and possibly an RSVP; (2) the wafer-thin neutral ground between pronunciation and connunciation, or it would be if there were such things as connunciations, which we think there should be.
baby: (1) The ultimate fashion accessory; (2) palpable, audible, and too often unfragrant evidence that one or both of the parties responsible for its manufacture have very bad luck, or else have lost hope in a fulfilling and rewarding future of independent self-actualization. When the baby is claimed to have divine parentage none of the foregoing applies, but chances are the cards are stacked against the kid and that things won’t end well for him or her, especially her.
bells: Even when on bobtails ringing, they toll for thee.
candle: Life, it once was said, is a game not worth one; and since the original was in French and quoted approvingly by Schopenhauer - Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle - who the hell are we to disagree, oui?
carolling: (1) Semi-musical harassment by people whose wardrobe comes exclusively from L.L. Bean and revere Garrison Keillor as divine erotica; (2) musical semi-harassment by gangs of apprentice stalkers. Why did this ever seem to be a good idea to anyone? (3) very likely the name of at least 160,000 Chinese women who either lack Anglophone friends, or whose Anglophone friends lack honesty; (4) what one does with Carol in private but wouldn’t talk about to anyone who knows her personally.
choir: (1) An intentional assemblage of aspirant soloists, each with too much free time on his or her hands and more than likely a terrible sex-life, and generally performing ensemble under the attempted direction of someone who cannot sing but has a large collection of Hummel figures; (2) in some English topolects, a synonym for the verb ‘to get’, e.g., “I’m hopin’ to choir some new Realtree camouflage for this sears wile pig hunt.”
December: (1) The last month you’ll ever need, even if you don’t deserve it; (2) the punctuation mark in an 11-month custodial sentence, typically an exclamation point or interrobang; (3) a thirty-day farce that began last December 31st with a 48-hour satyr play and follows upon a 48-week long tragedy.
driedel: If you have to ask, you’ll never get it.
elf (pl. ‘elves’): Before gaige kaifang (改革开放, “reform-and-opening-up”) the world’s leading manufacturers of toys. But that’s a thing of the past, now isn’t it? Note, too, that the Claymation elves of Rankin-Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) look nothing like those in Lord of the Rings. There’s no freakin’ way Arroyn would be hunched over an assembly-line workstation in the sub-zero arctic assembling toys. So when did elves drop-out of the blue-collar semi-skilled labor force and become buff and hot?
eve: Short for ‘evening’, which itself is always either too long or too short. Note, not all evenings are correctly referred to as ‘eves,’ and when one is, rest assured it is going to be expensive.
Frankincense: A short-lived perfume by the people who created Boo-Berry and Count Chockula; (2) referring to nearly miraculous powers possessed by some Franks in respect to situations in which the honesty or credibility of one's intentions are in doubt, or where outcomes are uncertain, conjectural, or indeterminate; thus the word is followed by phrases like "when a fella's bluffin", "when it’s gonna rain like hell", and "if the fish are biting’."
festive: (1) requiring medical attention and antibiotics; (2) used to describe the atmosphere at an obligatory holiday event that nobody truly enjoyed. See also ‘seasonal.’
Feliz navidad: (1) How a large part of the BRIC says joyeux noel; (2) the title of a song, prolonged exposure to which may induce seizure activity and homicidal ideations.
garland: What every pipe cleaner wants to be when it grows up. The ubiquitous presence of these tinsel boas serves to constrict one’s ability to ignore holiday obligations, but we have yet to find one strong enough to use as a hangman’s noose or garrote. See also ‘tinsel.’
gift: Occasionally a genuine token of appreciation, esteem, or affection, bestowed kenotically and with pure intentions by one sentient being upon another, for the express purpose of causing joy or delight. More typically a ‘gift’ is a down-payment, fee, fine, form of tribute, wergild, or revenge, but with nicer wrapping than usual for these sorts of things. When in the form of a horse, it should under no circumstances be subjected to oral examination; when in the form of an oral examination, it should under no circumstances leave either party hoarse.
hark: Colloquial Angelese for, “Yo! Listen the fuck up!” But then again, the word is always colloquial in Angelese, and in Angelese only. For anyone other than a native-speaking Angelphone to use the word is just plain weird. See also ‘silent’ and ‘quiet’.
Hanukah: A much more sensible tradition based on a much more credible story, but, like, nowhere near as fun as its gentile counterpart. Kugel isn’t that good.
Ho ho ho: Why the KTV was very very very expensive.
holiday: Literally holy day, although very few holidays have anything holy about them anymore. Thank god. ‘Holiday’ is generally translated into Chinese as jie or jie ri (节, 节日), which is itself often translated into English as ‘festival.’ The semantic extension of ‘festival,’ however, does not overlap exactly with that of the word ‘holiday’, viz., there might be a festival in the absence of a holiday, and not every holiday is a festival or consists of distinctly festive aspects. Fair enough. (See also ‘festive’.) ‘Festival’ has its origins in the word feast, and although neither all holidays nor all festivals traditionally require or actually result in feasts, that can’t be helped. The allied etymologies make the phase holiday feast sort of redundant, but the phrase “It is a very festive holiday full of feasting and festivities” is intelligible, if repellent. See also ‘holy.’
holy: “Is something holy because it is loved by the gods, or, do the gods love something because it is holy?” With this question thus did Socrates torture poor young Euthyphro on the archon’s porch – though the former sure got his comeuppance, didn’t he? The word describes something amenable to or capable of being subject to desecration – viz.
If it cannot be desecrated, then it is not holy;
It is holy. ------------------------------------------
Therefore: It can be desecrated.
Note however, that the syllogism…
If it is holy, it can be desecrated;
It is not holy. ----------------------------------------------
Therefore: It cannot be desecrated.
…is strictly speaking invalid, having commit the fallacy of denying the antecedent, and one should never, ever deny one’s antecedents, whatever precedent they might have inadvertently set. So what, then, is the true nature of the holy? We might advance upon an answer of sorts by observing that this adjective is most commonly appended to vulgar synonyms for faeces and fornication, and thereby used to express surprise or shock. Draw your own conclusions.
holly: What any self-respecting cactus would prefer to be, if it could.
immaculate: Cleaner than you could possibly conceive.
jolly: Used to describe someone who is good-natured, prone to laughter, and on the chubby side. No one with washboard abs or anorexia was ever described as ‘jolly.’ See also ‘merry.’
k: The eleventh letter in the English alphabet; when appearing after an ‘o’, it expresses agreement, affirmation, capitulation, or resignation; when appearing before an ‘o’, it expresses sudden and acute incapacitation; when following any number larger than ‘0’, an indication of a remuneration aspiration; when it appears on its own, it is special.
Kwanza: Multiculturalism’s finest brain tumor, well-intentioned but non-benign.
list: He’s making one, and checking it twice – see also ‘Schindler, Oskar’
love: For some, the ruling Force or Power in the universe; for the rest of us, the root of the trade in blood diamonds and the leading cause of divorce.
magi: Plural of ‘magus,’ which shares roots with ‘magic’ and hence ‘magician’; in the context of Bethlehem, it refers specifically to a trio of wise men who followed a star to a barn in order to dole-out hard-currency, incense, and body lotion to the kid of a couple they didn’t even know. Just try that today. (2) the variant ‘Magii’ is sometimes used as the plural form for “two Maggies”, though in our experience one Maggie at any one time is more than enough to deal with.
manger: One who is in charg, like a supervior; noun form of the verb to mange.
merry: Something one makes, apparently. See also ‘jolly.’
messiah: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, James Bond, Gandhi, and Will Smith all rolled into one para-apocalyptic musical masterpiece that eventually becomes tedious and lacking in credibility.
mistletoe: One of two well-known and proven herbal excuses for kissing a complete stranger, and not the one we prefer. In the holiday context, an essential part of a creepy tradition that allows Party A to plant one on Party B just because s/he had the misfortune of standing beneath a species of poisonous plant at a party. “But there was mistletoe overhead!” is not known to be an acceptable defense against charges of frottage or sexual assault.
newborn: (1) The first installment on a lifetime of obligation; (2) the preface to a book that’s better to read than to write oneself – see also ‘baby’ and ‘sleep-deprivation.’
North Pole: According to Comet and Cupid, used by Dancers – as well as Prancers and Vixens.
O: come all ye faithful [Ed.]
ornament: The opposite of necessity, though the precise definition depends entirely on your hood. Ornaments are to staples what chocolate is to nutrition, hence their much-deserved popularity.
poinsettia: Species of hunting dog popular south of the Mason-Dixon line.
present: (1) Not yet, and not-yet historical; (2) now; (3) when used as a verb, a polite way of saying “Whip it out!” as in, “Please present your passport and boarding card for inspection.” See also ‘gift.’
quiet: (1) When all is calm, or, when someone’s not too bright or, is very bright but just bored; (2) the correct immediate response to ‘hark.’ See also ‘silent.’
resolution (New Year’s): (1) The last-minute rationale for much New Year’s Eve dissolution and gratuitous self-pollution; (2) elevated aspirations generally contemplated in the light of chronic self-deprecations.
return policy: After cash, the only gift you ever need.
ribbon: What your friends will give you for your shite wrapping – or shit rapping.
rum-pa-tum-tum: The family-values version of Bang a gong/get it on, this was apparently an acceptable form of currency in Roman-occupied Palestine. Note however that playing a rum-pa-tum-tum on your drum is nowadays not quite the gift it once was, and will rarely make friends and influence people in the way a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label or a carton of Chunghwa cigarettes will (unless, of course, you are responding to an annunciation). No drum? Not to worry. There’s an app for that.
SAD: Abbreviation for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which was added to the DSM-III(R) when really insightful graduate students at Harvard Medical School noticed that acute onset but non-comorbid depression seems to afflict a number of otherwise healthy people in northern climes during the month of December, particularly those stupid enough to live year-round in northern climes and who for that reason tend to lack sufficient exposure to sunlight during winter months, and who for unrelated reasons have had more than sufficient exposure to the reality that the holidays can suck.
seasonal: (1) Adjective referring mainly to qualities, properties, or features of non-durable consumer goods that you neither missed nor needed one month earlier and will neither need nor miss one month hence, for which reason you probably shouldn’t get too excited about them in the first place. If eggnog and gingerbread were really that good we’d be taking them in our coolers to the beach, but we don’t now do we? (2) adjective describing the predictably recurrent but ephemeral, and the dust-collecting. See also ‘holiday.’
silent: Similar to quiet, but quieter. The idea of “silent night” (nox silens), in these latitudes, somehow became ping’an jie (平安节), “Peaceful-Night Festival,” which, on the face of it, seems like a nice gesture to Joe, Mary, the miracle baby, and to all parties who hold The Birthday in especial reverence. Fact is, ping’an jie is one of Middle Earth’s biggest piss-up nights of the year; swaddling clothes, benumbed stable beasts, and the fulfillment of messianic prophecies ain’t got nothing to do with this jie, which has about as much ping and an as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has sports. Book your tables in advance, and make sure your employer is giving you the 26th off so ye merry gentlemen (and women) can rest -- dismayed or otherwise. Silent, my ass. In metro-China wise men and virgins alike will be running with the bulls, and a few lions lying with not so silent lambs, and lying to all of them.
stockings: Articles of clothing which, for the young, are hung from the chimney with care, hopeful that one will awake on the morning of the 25th of December to find them stuffed with goodies; for adults, articles of clothing clumsily clutched at or teased-off with toes the night of the 24th of December, mindless or heedless of the fact that - sometime around noon on the 25th - you’ll probably want to find both of them and fly up the chimney before s/he awakes.
tinsel: (1) Singularly responsible for more chronic and terminal respiratory failure among quality vacuum cleaners than any other object in the known universe, except possibly for pine needles; (2) silvery material generally made of non-fibrous textiles and used to further humiliate once proud Douglas Firs and other conifers which were minding their own business before they were murdered by a redneck with a chainsaw to satisfy the quixotic pagan winter whims of gentile and Jew alike; (3) anything cheap used to gild a dying lily.
upon: A curious word, the existence of which is owed to the fact that ‘on’ simply wasn’t good enough for some people, who, being petty and never satisfied with what they had, began clamoring about the need to be able to describe in one fell swoop how a thing is both up and on another thing at the same time, viz., “The star is not just on the top of the tree, it is up on the top of the tree.” As if Down on the top of the tree would make any sense at all. And so, without permission to do so, a number of otherwise sensible folks began to stick ‘up’ next to ‘on’; and since dissent was minimal, they got away with it.
But were they satisfied with that? No. Before long they then began to complain about the space between the up and the on, insisting that it was simply too much to bear; viz.,
A: There, are you happy now? I have put a star up on the top of the tree!
B: Well that’s fine and good; but what do you intend to do about that gap between ‘up’ and ‘on’? I don’t like the way it looks, and we’re expecting guests. Fix it.
Why that should have been the case is anybody’s guess, although it is true that Nature abhors a vacuum and that some publishers pay by the word; and so with a removal of the vacuity between ‘up’ and ‘on’ Nature and publishers got their way. As they usually do. We have been living with the consequences of this ever since, but no one seems to care.
Vatican (City): Europe’s smallest independent state of denial.
White Christmas: (1) “Thank you for flying Bogota Airlines. We hope you have a pleasant destination, and wish you a safe journey to your final trip;” (2) ardently desired by children and by anyone who has never needed to operate a snowblower at 5 a.m. in pajamas, or go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house in an old Datsun with bald tires and no rear-window de-icer.
wreath: a symbolic display of amputated vegetable matter that shows in miniature how the circle of life starts to look unpleasant and smell funny after a few weeks’ worth of exposure to life.
Xerox: The name of the machine you defaced and assaulted with your bare buttocks while drunk at the office Christmas party where you subsequently lost consciousness and your co-workers’ respect. [Ed.]
Yule: The first part of a spoken command, prediction, or threat, and most often followed by with words “just have to get used to it”, “love it, trust me”, and “be sorry”.
Z: (1) the 26th and final letter of any halfway-decent alphabet; (2) in the plural, colloquial for sleep – but always and only in the plural. How a single letter can have a plural form is beyond us; but like it or not no one ever talks about “catching a Z” or “needing a Z,” even when it might make perfect sense to do so – e.g.:
- intern: Oh, man. I’m dead tired. I need to catch some Z’s before I crash.
- doctor: I’m afraid there’s no time for that; but I’ll let you have one Z right after we finish this appendectomy. Just one and you’ll owe me big-time.
(3) entities that elude children, both naughty and nice, on the evening of the 24th of December, excited as they are about the prospect of a nocturnal visitation by an obese senior citizen with a ratty beard and sack full of electronic goods; (4) entities forsaken freely by adults, both naughty and nice, in their annual pursuit of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.
zymurgy: The process by which yeast breaks down sugars to make alcohol, and by extension, the holidays, tolerable for those unfortunate enough to have to spend it with their families. [Ed.]
The Chinese hot-pot restaurant chain Haidilao is known for a lot of things, except being moderate. They will give you a free manicure and clean your shoes while you’re waiting for your table, provide a big stuffed animal to keep you company if you’re lunching alone, and perform an acrobatic dance if you order noodles.
Haidilao is the epitome of the “client comes first” mentality that will go to great length to provide you with first-rate service. However, as experience shows, some clients find that the best service is when they are left alone and not bothered by pesky over-the-top courtesy.
At one time Chinese Internet was replete with articles titled along the lines of “Don’t let Haidilao know your birthday, it’s too scary” where users would detail their experiences dealing with the restaurant’s overblown birthday service that included singing and dancing waiters holding LED lights and more. Some have even joked saying “If you hate your friend, go to Haidilao for their birthday.”
To tackle the problem and better cater to the needs of different groups of customers, Haidilao recently introduced a witty solution. Tables in some of the chain’s restaurants are now equipped with “Do not disturb” flip-boards. Customers who do not want to be approached too often by waiters can use the sign to fend off their insistent advances.
The flip-board also provides other options such as “I’ll serve dishes myself” meaning that the waiter does not need to help with the dishes frequently or “detailed services are not required” telling waiters that they are only wanted to bring dishes and clean the table.
According to Haidilao, the service is still in the pilot stage, and it will be tried in some stores. It will continue to be optimized according to the needs of customers and different situations. Stores and employees will be continuously encouraged to innovate and provide customers with more personalized services.
Though Haidilao's service has always been known as "perverted", but sometimes it is too intimate and it can cause embarrassment. A while ago, a post named "Don't let Haidilao know your birthday" went viral on the internet.
“I went to Haidilao with my girlfriend, we just asked if we could get a discount on birthdays, then a group of people appeared with LED lights and sang the birthday song, they even gave us a ‘Most Beautiful Girlfriend Reward” and asked us to read the girlfriend vows to each other.’
“Two of us went to celebrate my friend’s birthday at Haidilao, we hid the cake in our bag and sneaked some scoops every now and then, just because we were so scared that the waiters would find out that’s her birthday, then we would be the super star of the night.”
“Look at me, I looked so surprised and happy!”
Therefore, for many customers who like Haidilao, the appearance of "Do Not Disturb" flip-board is simply a relief and has been unanimously appreciated by everyone.
From a steaming glass of traditional mulled wine, brimming with spices, to an indulgent mudslide cocktail, our winter drinks recipes are perfect for seeing in the festive season. Curl up in your fluffiest jumper with a creamy peppermint hot chocolate, or get the party started with a batch of our marvellous mulled gin.
Keep everyone's glasses topped up with our favourite festive drinks, and mouth-watering non-alcoholic drinks for every taste. Find top mixology tips, reviews of our favourite products and even more triple-tested recipes in our cocktails & drinks hub.
Spiced Apple Syrup with Clementine & Cloves
Our spiced apple syrup with clementine and cloves will add a burst of fabulous Christmas flavour to any drink. Try adding to hot apple juice or mulled wine for festive fruit and spice. It's even delicious drizzled over ice cream for an upgraded frozen treat. It will keep for about a month, so store it in the fridge ready for impromptu gatherings.
200ml apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole allspice
1 mace blade
2 whole cloves
Small strip fresh ginger
1 clementine, zest finely peeled with a vegetable peeler
100g golden caster sugar
1. Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.
It wouldn't be winter without a steaming mug of mulled wine, complete with a glug of sloe gin for a sweet twist. Simply leave your wine, (we recommend an unoaked tempranillo) to infuse with seasonal spices like star anise and cinnamon and a little citrus zest. Keep a batch warming on the stove and let guests top up their glasses. Want to try something different this year?
750ml bottle red wine
1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
2 star anise
2 strips lemon zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml sloe gin (we used Gordon's) (optional)
1. Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
2. Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.
3. To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.
Winter Whisky Sour
Warm up from the inside out with our simple winter whiskey sour. Give the classic sour a couple of delicious tweaks and it's ready for the festive season. Add a splash of orange juice to your favourite bourbon, a little sugar syrup, some fresh fruit and some sparkle. Need some more help getting into the spirit?
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp sugar syrup
2 slices of oranges
Gold edible glitter
1. Using a small paintbrush (or your finger), brush some honey around the rim of two tumblers and use another small paintbrush to stick edible gold glitter around each.
2. Fill each glass with crushed ice. Put the bourbon into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice, orange juice and sugar syrup. Shake and strain into each glass, and serve with an orange slice and short straws.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Nothing says 'indulgence' like a velvety-smooth hot chocolate, made with rich dark chocolate and double cream. Stir our peppermint hot chocolate with a striped candy cane and let it melt into the drink for a refreshing minty flavour. These delectable drinks are hard to resist. Got something.
200g bar plain chocolate, broken into chunks
150ml pot single or double cream
Sugar, to taste
6 peppermint candy canes, to serve
1. Put the chocolate in a pan with the milk. Gently heat, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Continue heating until the milk is steaming, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
2. Divide the hot chocolate between 6 mugs, add sugar to taste and hang a candy cane on the edge of each. Pass the mugs round and let everyone stir their hot chocolate with their candy cane – letting as much of the sweet peppermint dissolve as they fancy.
Cinnamon Buttered Rum
Once you're tried our super smooth, gently spiced cinnamon buttered rum, it'll be your drink of choice when the nights draw in. Serve up mugfuls of this buttery brilliance for your next party. Neither sickly sweet nor too citrussy, this perfectly balanced tipple will warm you up in no time. Whether you prefer white or dark, spiced or smooth, we have a rum cocktail recipe to get your party started.
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks
200ml spiced rum
1. Gently heat the butter, golden caster sugar and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Stir in the spiced rum, then pour into four small heatproof glasses to serve.
Mulled Pear & Cranberry Punch
Our versatile mulled pear & cranberry punch can be served as a cocktail or a non-boozy version, simply miss out the sloe gin. The beauty of this all-in-one recipe means you can simply chuck your ingredients in a pan, leave to heat, then ladle out as needed. It takes just ten minutes to make, so no need to sweat it out in the kitchen.
1l pear cider
1l pear (or cloudy apple) juice
1l cranberry juice
Good handful fresh or dried cranberries
150ml sloe gin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla pods, scored lengthways
Put all the ingredients into your biggest saucepan or casserole dish. When you're ready to serve, heat to just below simmering point, then ladle into glasses.
This creamy, coffee-flavoured cocktail is for adults only. Our mudslide is pure decadence, something to be savoured and sipped at your leisure.
50g dark chocolate
60ml coffee-flavoured liqueur
60ml Irish cream liqueur
100ml double cream
1. Put two small tumblers in the fridge to chill overnight. Put 30g of the chocolate in a shallow bowl and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Dip the rim of the chilled glasses in the melted chocolate, then stand them upright so it gradually drips down the sides. Return to the fridge until you're ready to serve.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the coffee-flavoured liqueur, vodka, Irish cream liqueur and double cream. Shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
3. Put a few ice cubes in the prepared glasses, then strain in the cocktail. Finely grate over the remaining chocolate and serve with a paper straw.
Winter Pimm's Punch
This archetypal English cocktail isn't just for summer. Our Winter Pimm's punch is paired with sweet brandy and light apple juice for an instant cocktail cabinet winner. You'll probably have most of the ingredients already lurking in kitchen cupboards. It can be served warm or cool, depending on what you prefer.
1½ l apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks
Combine the Pimm's and brandy with the apple juice in a jug filled with ice, cinnamon sticks and a sliced apple and orange.
Looking for something a little different than the standard festive fare? Move over wine, this mulled gin is our new favourite Christmas cocktail. Infuse apple juice with aromatic spices like bay, cloves and cardamom, a few crushed juniper berries and a little honey for sweetness. Cut through rich canapés and sweet treats with this more delicate drink.
400ml apple juice
½ lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 small cinnamon stick
3 juniper berries, lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp runny honey
For the garnish
4 bay leaves
2 lemon slices, halved
1. Divide the gin between four small heatproof glasses or teacups.
2. Tip the apple juice into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Heat gently until simmering, then strain into a jug. Pour the mulled apple juice into the glasses with the gin and stir gently to combine. Garnish each glass with a bay leaf and half a lemon slice and serve warm.
Perk up the after-dinner lull with a luxurious Irish coffee. A grating of fresh nutmeg on top of the thick layer of cream adds some seasonal fragrance. Need some help choosing the perfect dram? Read our review of the 10 best Irish whiskies, from light and smooth to rich and spicy.
2 tbsp double cream
150ml freshly brewed black coffee
50ml Irish whiskey
½ - 1 tsp brown sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1. Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
2. Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently float the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg over the cream. Serve hot.
My first encounter with Marco was through my friend’s WeChat moments. I can’t really recall for what reason we added each other, all I could remember were his big muscles and that bright smile hailing from L.A. Later on, we had more contact due to a few common friends who are involved with martial arts and I started to know him more.
Who is Marco
Marco has gained quite a reputation in the martial arts world since arriving in Hangzhou in 2018. He used to train at Checkmat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in USA, an international academy, competition team, and family of Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Founded in 2008 by Master Vieira, Checkmat now has affiliate academies in thirty-four American cities and sixteen countries worldwide. You can find world-class, hands-on instruction that has been tested on the practice mats and proven on the competition field.
In Hangzhou, Marco started his own brand - Marcola Jiu Jitsu. It offers Jiu Jitsu training classes to people of different ages, whether professional or not. As one of the few black belt holders in China, his classes are really popular. Marco’s lifelong love of competitive athletics has molded him into both a lover and a fighter. His passion for athletics and a genuine desire to help people reach their fitness goals motivates him to continue learning each day, and develop new techniques to challenge himself and his clients. You see doctors, lawyers, students, law enforcers, businessmen and women walk into his class for the same reason - to get better at Jiu Jitsu.
Marco’s full name is Marco Alvarado and his Chinese name is rather cute: 马可乐. His Chinese friends would just call him 可乐, same as Cola. Before we tell you more, take a look at his incredible championship records below, the man is a real fighter.
Bronze Medal at International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan American Championship Blue Belt
Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation All Americas Tournament Purple Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF Pan American Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF World No Gi Championships Brown Belt
Gold Medal at IBJJF American Nationals No Gi Brown Belt
Silver Medal at Jiu Jitsu World League San Diego Championships Black Belt
Gold Medal at NABJJF All Americas Tournament Black Belt
Marco has been involved in many kinds of sports - boxing, taekwondo, karate, running, American football – and also physical rehabilitation. Like many other athletes, Marco’s first coach was his dad who was a boxer. Marco was just 5 years old when his dad introduced him to boxing. It was the classic story, his parents decided to put him in taekwondo and karate training when they found out that little Marco was being bullied in kindergarten. Six years later, he received his first black belt in taekwondo.
After that, he decided to move on to a new sport: running. From sixth grade till he graduated college, he never stopped running and he became one of the US national athletes in track and field.
Eventually, he knew he needed to find another new sport to challenge himself. One day, he went to a free Jiu Jitsu class at his college. Someone caught him in a choke, he had no idea what to do and that got him really interested. He wanted to know how it happened, how he did it, and how to do it back. He was 22 at the time. 10 years later, he won the Gold Medal at North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Championships.
It’s Ok to Lose, Just Learn From It
As an amateur boxer who has only been training for 4 months, there was a question I really wanted to ask so I brought it up when we were having a lunch break at Blue Frog. “Before you had your first fight, how did you overcome your inner fear?” Marco took a bite of his big, juicy burger and said “My first Jiu Jitsu tournament was six months after I started training, I was very nervous. We sparred every week in college, so I learned how to deal with the fear, but this time was different. I knew who my opponents were, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I got destroyed badly in two fights, one guy caught me in the armbar in 20 seconds, the other guy beat me so bad like 20-0. I left deflated and frustrated, but I wanted to do it again, I wanted redemption. This gives you more motivation to go back to train harder and learn from mistakes. In the fights later on, I started to get into my rhythm and started doing well. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to tap and lose in practice, because it hurts your pride for a day or two, but you come back for more training. It’s ok to lose, just learn from it. That’s an important life lesson.” During Marco’s career, his arms were almost broken a couple of times, he tore some ligaments on his knees and he got two broken teeth. With all these injuries, he had to learn about physical therapy in order to fix himself.
“Martial arts is more about avoiding problems than anything else. These days, there are always those untrained people or the ones who watched too much UFC and are looking for trouble. If you trained a little, you’ll have respect for your body. This stuff is no joke, it can really be dangerous.” Marco continues, “My teacher used to say if there is a fight, he’ll just run away, because he would feel bad for the guys once he’s had enough. He would turn around and fight.”
Back in L.A, Marco was teaching in a big chain gym where he soon became friends with a Taiwanese trainer. He followed his friend’s journey that brought him to Hangzhou to continue teaching for Checkmat and he became aware that there are a lot of blue and purple belt holders who opened Jiu Jitsu schools in Hangzhou, but there were only 2-3 with a black belt teaching here. Marco thought that he can bring people more advanced technique and professional training. So in June, 2018, Marco came to start his first job in a gym in Xiaoshan, teaching conditioning and creating a Jiu Jitsu program.
MMA vs. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
I couldn’t help asking what Marco thinks about this outspoken Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong a.k.a. “Mad Dog”. Mad Dog has made it his mission to expose fake kung fu over the past two years by pulverising fraudulent traditional martial arts “masters”, but his actions have drawn the ire of Chinese authorities. “In my point of view, Bruce [Lee] was the first MMA fighter in the history of martial arts, because he was always so open minded about everything. He took things that he thought were useful and added on something unique of his own. I think Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to show that not one martial arts is dominating. If you know a bit of everything, that is more effective. I think Jiu Jitsu is very useful and complete, cause you go from standing to the ground, you can also go back up to defend yourself, knowledge is powerful. Martial arts is changing, and you need to keep yourself updated. Back home, some guys can use their chi to make someone fall. This is not video games, we call it McDojo.”
The Distance Between China and the World
Many are also immersed in the joy of Zhang Weili who won China’s first Gold Belt in MMA. She is now gearing up to defend her UFC strawweight title against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 8, 2020. Marco thinks that China has started to close the gap with the other western countries and now there are more and more young Chinese fighters in UFC. Marco told me, “With Jiu Jitsu, specifically, China is a little bit behind. Brazil and US now are the two countries with the best fighters. There are a lot of 15-18 years old kids that have been training since they were 5. That means they have over 10 years of experience on the mat which is more than me. They have all those tricks that I have never seen, the level is just incredible. Even though China has a lot of catching up to do, they are doing a good job.”
How Did My First Jiu Jitsu Class Go?
I joined Marco’s class at R8 a few weeks ago. I was not only impressed by his superb Jiu-Jitsu skills, but also his passion in coaching. When a fight moves down to the ground, it can be quite brutal, especially in Jiu Jitsu where there are so many different kinds of chokes. It seems that getting bruises, breaking teeth or arms are normal in this sport. Plus, did I mention that if you are practicing with a guy, you’d better get used to some rather odd positions? Even Marco himself admitted that Jiu Jitsu positions can sometimes be awkward.
So I didn’t go in with a lot of confidence, but Marco’s explanation and demonstration of each move made everything seem possible. It is a grappling-based martial art where the central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Jiu Jitsu is centered around the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. All those awkward positions can be very effective; the basis behind it is all about leverage. It’s about using the whole body on another body part, even if your opponent is a bodybuilder, he can’t win. If you are skilled in Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely hold yourself against 95% of the population; most people don’t even know how to fall down properly.
The Beauty of Jiu Jitsu
Marco has about 30 tough students at the moment and he’s determined to stay for a much longer time. Recently he took 7 people to attend the Shanghai Tournament and got 10 gold medals, this shows that this tiny team is going in the right direction. For the next step, Marco wants to create a kids’ program. He wants to share what he has with the next generation.
"It's important to stay focused and keep an open mind when it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu." The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle goes beyond just training. It's about taking care of yourself, making friends, and striving to put your 'best foot forward'. Setting your mind to learning and improving every week will help you to improve mind, body and soul. His over-all team goal is to improve at least 1% every week and this requires a positive attitude.
While there might be a certain amount of irony in writing an article about hard-to-find bars. I decided that the value of sharing these unassuming venues far outweighed the underlying irony. After all, each of the bars listed below have gone without the usual crowd-drawing tactics (flashy look-at-me signs, foot traffic-orientated locations etc.), surviving instead on their good work. That makes the following bars more than just a collection of hard to find bars, but also one which features some of the best tasting drinks in Hangzhou.
Using Didi? In most cases I would write the bar name in English, otherwise I’d copy and paste the Chinese address into Didi for either language version.
(Same name for Didi)
Shop 3-4, Building 13, Maozuo Plaza, 95 West Genshan Road
Once you’re inside though, see if you can spot the hidden guest rooms and bar. Usually the English service is excellent and for an awesome variety of highballs OR a serious list of twists on the classics, Dr.Ink have great service and style. (There is also a Dr.Ink at 168 Nanshan Road but you have to go upstairs to find it!)
Jason's Library 杰森图书馆
(Same name for Didi, might display 杰森图书馆)
Shop 529, Building 4, 515 Yuhangtang Road
This Jamie Oliver inspired venue is more restaurant than bar but they serve good drinks too. If you haven't been here yet - it's worth a visit. When you enter the main entrance of the complex, turn right and next to Mona Vale Café, pass through the library shelves for awesome Scotch Eggs, delicious roast beef or a very well prepared Beef Wellington as well as my favourite lemongrass Mojito and chili gin tonic. Spoken English is very limited BUT language doesn’t affect service, food or environment.
Jason's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Gentleman
Girls - The Windsor Gardens
Show Lounge 秀 Lounge
(For Didi paste秀 Lounge could display 杭州秀酒店 SHOW HOTEL)
B1/F, 381 Wen'er Road
The first time getting here can be confusing so use the WanTang Road entrance of the SHOW HOTEL which is close to the corner of Wen'er and Wantang. When you pass the lobby, head downstairs to the basement where you will probably see the highest back bar anywhere. English service is usually ok. 秀 (Xiu or Show) often feature guest bartenders and regular singer songwriters.
Show's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - SHOWTIME
Girls - Midsummer Night Dream
Spy & Smuggler
(Same name for Didi)
Shop A20, B1/F, Can High Centre, 208 North Huancheng Road
You want to find the steps down to the Water Bus Terminal. It’s easiest to walk out to the main road being Huancheng North Road. Walk beneath the pedestrian overpass and turn left at the driveway for Can High Centre. In Can High you can take an elevator to the basement or use the outside steps down to the wharf. At the wharf level, facing the canal, turn left to find Spy & Smuggler’s “gallery” of ill-gotten gains. Twist the correct “ornament” to open the secret door to one of two hidden bars. Spy & Smuggler have excellent English and their menu features fun and interesting twists upon classics.
Spy & Smuggler's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Old Fashioned
Girls - Bees Knees
Crossroads Whisky Bar
(Same name for Didi)
468 Yan'an Road
At the crossroads of Fengqi and Yanan, (Fengqi Station exit D4) you might find limited spoken English but the excellent menu, service and drinks more than make up for it. My sweet tooth loves their Foaming Midori or for a strong drink Crossroads has Myrcia and star anise flavoured bourbon with Drambuie. Head 100 meters down the driveway towards the hospital and you will see the Crossroads sign on your right. Lift the telephone to enter.
Crossroads' Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Rio de Janeiro
Girls - Nan Shan Road
(For Didi paste 染 mist 西湖礼物)
89 Nanshan Road
The car park and buildings might look very dark, it’s the address of the West Lake Museum. Go to the driveway on the right hand side of the museum building and walk 200 metres to the rear of the building where you will find Mist another 50 metres away on the left. English service is excellent and the bar offers tea in the day and a cocktail programme at night.
Mist's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Like You For a Long Time
Girls - I Love You Too
(Same name for Didi)
591 Qingtai Street
When you go inside, don’t go to the “café counter” on the left but go through the dark narrow doorway straight ahead to reveal the candlelit stairway. Push the panel at the top to enter the century old Apothecary. Not always confident in English but the room, drinks and service are warm hearted and personable.
(For Didi paste品 Xanadu)
255 Zhongshan Middle Road
You’ll see a large Muslim restaurant to the right of a narrow alleyway. Go into the alley a short way and turn left at the large white entrance. Play the arcade game Street Fighter to open the door to the stairs. Xanadu open a little later than other bars, usually from 8pm. There’s a fantastic range of spirits and creative cocktails based on your suggestions as well as excellent conversational English at all times.
Harbour Island Bar 哈珀酒吧
(Same name for Didi)
Shop 31, Chunjiang Licheng, Binjiang
To unlock the door, don’t spend your time spinning the wheel but put your attention on the world map. Upstairs you’ll find a well appointed bar with great service and reasonable drinks. If you end up heading (accidentally) to 324 Fengqi Road in downtown Hangzhou, don’t be alarmed – the similarly named bar HarBour is also a speakeasy – press the anchor to open the door.
(Same name for Didi, might display MILL7酒吧 滨江店)
4317 Binsheng Road, Binjiang
The photographic art studio and gallery opens to a large whiskey and cocktail bar. This is spread across several floors including a hidden terrace bar. Try a drink from the secret menu if you feel game enough to ask. Service is always warm and personal. Look out for one of Mill’s many other venues across Hangzhou.
MILL7's Recommend Drinks:
Boys - Why Women Kill
Girls - Macha Grasshopper
(For Didi paste SIREN 塞壬酒吧)
890-2 Jincheng Road
At the end of the Xiaoshan MixC Mall is a beautifully designed bar. The menu is creative and features twists on common elements. English might be reasonable depending on who is working. In any case, service is personable and friendly.
Uncover the Secrets of the Fujian Earth Buildings
T I M E
Tour Signup Deadline: December 20th
Tour Date: December 21st – December 24th
V E N U E
T I C K E T S
(Min 10 Pax, Max 16 Pax)
There’s no doubt – if your destination is Fujian and the south-east, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you miss these mammoth World Heritage wonders! Take four days to visit the Tulou closed settlements (pronounced “two”-“low”) for an encounter with China’s ancient Hakka culture, then let a local guide you to experience the real heart of life in Xiamen.
1. Explore the Tulou and discover why these mammoth communal dwellings were deemed precious items World Cultural Heritage – study their wisdom to get a unique look into Hakka culture!
2. Spend the night in comfortable Tulou tavern room lodging at the Hongkeng Tulou cluster’s Renquan’yuan Lou, ‘Square’ Lou or Wufeng Lou.
3. Get lost in the maze-like concentric rings of buildings inside the “King Tulou”, or seek out the ‘slither of sunlight’ in the Gaobei Tulou cluster. Had enough of Hakka Tulous? Then explore a different mystery in the Da’di Southern Min Tulou groupings in Hua’an.
1. 8 Meals (Including Breakfast x3, Lunch x3, Dinner x2)
2. 3 Night’s Stay in Comfortable Hotels(Double occupancy, for single supplement please add 550 rmb)
3. Activity costs and admission fares for all items on the itinerary.
4. All transportation costs for the itinerary (Airport and Station pickup not included)
5. Full travel accident insurance for the duration of the trip.
6. Full bilingual guide accompaniment.
1. Transportation costs to Xiamen and Xiamen Plaza Hotel
2. All additional costs incurred by the individual not mentioned in the itinerary above.
1. This is a coupled Chinese-foreign tour, meaning your tour group will include both Chinese natives and foreign expats. There is a minimum 10-person (maximum 16-person) signup threshold that must be reached for this tour to go ahead. If you sign up and the threshold is not reached, the cost of the tour will be refunded in the means by which you paid.
2. Want to come? Signup can be completed through the TA mini-program. Once the group reaches the minimum number of attendees you will receive a message from TA customer support confirming that the tour will go ahead.
If after successful payment and signup you become unable to attend your booked tour, your refund will be processed minus deductions as per the following scheme by the Trendy Adventurer Financial Affairs team:
- 14 or 14+ days before the activity date: 1% of the signup cost;
- 7 or 14 days before the activity date: 10% of the signup cost;
-7 to 3 days before the activity commencement date: 40% of the signup cost;
-3 to 1 day(s) before the activity commencement date: 55% of the signup cost;
-Within 24 hours of the activity commencement date: 70% of the signup cost.
Refunds will be processed within 5 working days after the date of conclusion of the tour.
(if the air ticket is included in the itinerary and the air ticket has been issued, 100% air ticket loss shall be borne, because the group ticket cannot be changed or refunded)
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