Last Call: I tried to make a Polar Vortex Old-Fashioned

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Is it cold enough to freeze alcohol?

Weather this cold just brings out the scientist in me, especially when there is frost on the inside of the windows. Throwing a cup of hot water into the air to watch it turn into steam? Absolutely. Squirting a squirt gun into the frigid air? Yep. But what about… freezing alcohol? Is it actually cold enough for that?

After spying a few people online contemplating whisky ice cubes, I wanted to try this out. After my entire month of Dryuary, all we had on hand besides my husband’s beloved Budweiser was an old bottle of whiskey. Alcohol at 80 proof reportedly freezes at -17 F, so could I possibly make a cocktail popsicle?

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Fancy whiskey shopgirl Allison Shoemaker recommended making a Polar Vortex Old-Fashioned, and amazingly I had cherries and bitters to make this prospect cocktail-worthy. (Yes, this put my Dryuary in peril with only a few hours to go. I have been on the straight and narrow for 30 full days now, and hopefully the universe will permit me this small transgression on the very final day of the month after the coldest day in Chicago history.)

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As with many experiments, this one did not pan out. After putting my Old Fashioned ingredients in a plastic bag and leaving it outside overnight throughout the very worst of the cold snap (-20 degrees!), the cocktail in the baggie never really froze up. Takeout editor Kevin Pang points out that most home freezers are set at 0 degrees, so I’m not sure what the problem was. It sure felt cold as hell to me out there. Did the snow warm the baggie up?

Ah, well. My drink experiment killed a few moments of #chibernation, and tasted great chilly, if not actually frozen. But the overnight fermenting of the cherries and the bitters definitely augmented the whiskey. Even though it was a bit sweet for my tastes, I can see why this is Don Draper’s favorite drink. Now, where’s that squirt gun? [Gwen Ihnat]

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The Pollinators

Winter in Montana is a relatively quiet time, so each year I look forward to February’s Big Sky Documentary Film Festival here in Missoula. This go-round, I’m especially looking forward to the full-length, bee-centric documentary The Pollinators, which looks equally delightful and alarming. Sort of like bees themselves. [Kate Bernot]