Kids are amazing. As a parent it is your job to teach them how to be a functional adult while they give you this incredible view of the world through their eyes as they experience it. This comes with ups and downs as they test your limits and push your patience. To help you on your parenting journey, I’ve paired 10 common parenting headaches with a cocktail recipe to help calm your nerves.
So you have this baby on the way and you run like a crazy person around the house trying to make everything perfect for it (especially baby No. 1). Fancy scientist people call this “nesting,” but it’s totally a thing. My cousin-in-law Jen is expecting baby No. 2 and absolutely did all of this, but they don’t tell you about the “Nesting Crash.” Cleaning and prepping is hard work and certainly calls for a drink.
Note: We’re not recommending that you drink alcohol when pregnant, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 10 pregnant women have had at least one drink in the last 30 days. Still, American Pregnancy Association notes the risks for moms-to-be to weigh their options.
* Cheat Day Cocktail: Low alcohol cocktails allow for a semi-guilty cheat when you are pregnant. Take a tall glass and add ice with 3 oz. of Zinfandel, 1 oz. of Triple Sec, top with soda water and garnish with an orange slice. This gives you a wine fix with a hint of Sangria, but allows you to sip and make it last.
My friend Lauren just had her first baby after a very long and stressful conception. As you can imagine, she was overjoyed to bring the baby home but didn’t know what to expect. Her first “baby” was actually her dog. Introducing the two lead to fits of crying from both of them. Who knew a dog could be so stressed out? Eventually they did make it through night one. Breastfeeding means no booze (most of the time), so how about a little non-alcoholic cocktail. It might not take off the edge, but it will be tasty.
* Baby Safe Cocktail: This is a booze-free cocktail (find more here!) that gives you hints of the real thing. Fee Brothers makes bitters with no alcohol. Take 2 oz. of apple cider, 3 dashes of Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters, then top with soda water. Stir and serve that over ice with a cinnamon sugar rim and you have something to help get you through this phase.
Sleep with a newborn is a thing you try to live without. My sister-in-law, Molly, had an unlucky baby that would sleep in the day and be awake in the night. Once we ruled out that she wasn’t a vampire, we all breathed a sigh of relief. If your baby is a night owl, maybe you need a bit of a pick-me-up cocktail.
* Late Zinger: A little shot of caffeine can’t hurt. Take a coffee mug, add 1 oz. vodka, 2 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and top with iced coffee. This will keep you awake and raise your spirits … get it.
This one will drive you to drink for sure. My friend Tara just had an experience with this. She took her toddler out for one of their first nights out as a family and a meltdown began almost immediately. Everything in arm’s reach was thrown across the restaurant including a plate that shattered. She even managed to escape her high chair and proceeded on a low speed chase around the seating area. This most certainly fried the nerves and a strong cocktail was in order.
* Toddiki: Tropical flavors will take you back to your last trip to the beach. Ice a shaker and fill with 2 oz. dark rum, 1 oz. white rum, ½ oz. triple sec, ½ oz. grapefruit juice, ½ lime juice and ½ oz. simple syrup. Shake everything together and strain into an iced tall glass. A little umbrella and straw complete the illusion that your kid didn’t just have a fit in public.
When your kids are of the age to attend school, it’s a bittersweet parting. Your little one is off to explore the world for the first time without you, but you may be picking up a bit more free time. My friend Rachel found a support group of moms that met for brunch every first day of school. They shared stories and supported each other over mimosas. An excellent drink in itself, but with many variations.
* Mimosa Reboot: It’s hard to reinvent a classic, but it’s fun to experiment. Add ½ oz. of Creme de Cassis to the bottom of a champagne glass, nearly fill with sparkling wine and top with some cranberry juice.
While school is often the first time the kids are out of the house during the day, sleep-away camp tends to be the first time away from the house at night. My cousin-in-law Stephanie was worried about how her son would get into trouble. Would he annoy all the kids, wander off into some forbidden section of the camp or just plain fall in the lake? But you hope for the best and know that these counselors have seen everything. Treat yourself to a campfire-smoked cocktail with your significant other.
* Campfire Old-Fashioned: Smoking adds a lot of flavor to food on the grill, so why not your cocktails? Mix up a classic old fashioned: Muddle a sugar cube with 3 dashes of angostura bitters in a rocks glass, top with 2 oz. of bourbon. Place some wood chips in a small fire safe container and sprinkle some high proof spirits on them (151, Everclear, etc.). Carefully light this on fire, let burn for a bit and gently blow out. Immediately cover the cocktail and mini-campfire with a metal bowl and let sit for two minutes. Remove the bowl and enjoy your drink.
Not your baby anymore
For the first part of their lives, kids want to do everything with you. They are loving and affectionate and mostly a delight. Then one day the embarrassment switch gets flipped and they don’t want to be kissed in public. My friend Nicole treated this milestone with humor instead of sadness. But still sneaks in a forehead kiss or two when they are asleep. Snuggle up with a good book and try this cocktail out.
* Toddy: Tea adds great bitter, tart flavors to a cocktail. This can be made hot or cold. Add 1.5 oz. of dark rum to 1 oz. brewed tea, squeeze in honey and lemon to taste.
The words that every child dreads are, “I’m not mad at you. I’m just disappointed.” I pulled a doozy on my mom in middle school. I enjoyed school but always looked for the short cut. When my grades came in the mail and proved that I took a few too many bad short cuts, I intercepted that post and hid it until after Christmas so my holiday booty wouldn’t be affected. Then I magically inserted it back into the mailbox after the 25th. That was the day I learned about postmarks and my parents were extremely disappointed with me. I believe my new Super Nintendo was hidden for months in the closet after that. My mom could have used this shot.
* Mario Shot: Sometimes you just need to slam some booze like that one time in college you would like to forget. Layering cocktails is fun and impressive for guests too. Add ½ oz. of grenadine to the bottom of a shot glass, gently pour ½ oz. of Fernet Branca over a spoon to rest on top of the grenadine. Then repeat that with ½ oz. of vodka. Shoot this all at once for a sweet and bitter drink that Mario would approve of.
Watching your baby crawl the first time is only the beginning of their mobility. Eventually, they get behind the wheel of a two-ton crash magnet and the sleepless nights start all over again. My dad recalls learning to drive the first time and having to learn not only on an old VW van but with manual transmission. I can only imagine the debates my father and grandfather had over the experience. Take a moment and shift your life into park over this sipper.
* The Clutch Cocktail: The Negoni is a classic cocktail that works wonders on a hot day. Take 1 oz. gin, 1 oz. sweet vermouth and 1 oz. Cynar (an artichoke liqueur) and stir with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and a twist of orange.
You did it. You raised a successful adult that will hopefully be a limited burden on society. My grandparents were always big travelers and took the kids everywhere. That continued when the kids left, but it brought them even closer together on their own. I think a toast is in order with a twist.
* We did it? Cocktail: This grown-up cocktail is sweet, tart and bubbly. Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne glass and add 3 drops of balsamic vinegar to it (just a touch of sour). Then top with sparkling wine and garnish with an orange twist. It might sound crazy to add vinegar to a cocktail, but you will be surprised.
I hope some of these parenting milestones inspire you to try out one or more of my cocktails. Find more spirited suggestions at nickdrinks.com. Have questions or need bad parenting advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers.
This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2016.