During the winter, people go through a lot to stay warm. But in my family, we’ve been braving the cold in one unique way — best described in great detail in a letter from my immigrant great-grandfather, Tipsy MacCopywriter, to his brother back in County Donegal, Ireland.


January 17, 1883

Hello, dear brother. I hope this letter finds you well. Here in Ohio, Lake Erie has frozen over, but the winds blow from that great muddy pit just as strong and bitterly cold as ever. The foreman says I ought to get used to it if I am to stay here in America. I suppose I will. Lord knows there’s nothing for me back in Ulster. At least here, there is food to eat and plenty of the apple elixir that has become a staple in my meager home, and in those of my boyos at the mill.

Even now, as I write, the butter and cider warm my bones. And, simmering on the cooker, its spicy essence pushes the acrid stench of the nearby tannery from my nostrils. The odd whiskey, here which they call bourbon, may not have the petey taste of Bushmills, but it eases my nerves all the same. 

I pray you might be able to join me here in America one day, dear brother. But until you do, try and scratch together the ingredients for this lovely potion. I have included instructions on how to brew it up and a small bottle of the local hooch. Try not to drink it all at once, as I know you are wont to do.

Hot Buttered Bourbon Cider

• 2 cups of apple cider

• 1 tablespoon of molasses

• 1 pinch of ground clove

• 2 pinches of nutmeg

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 1 tablespoon of butter

• One or two (or three) fingers of your finest brown

Simmer all but the whiskey in a small pot or kettle. Once you see steam, fill your mug, add whiskey and think of me before you take your first sip, eh?

Until we meet again, dear brother,