SNL's Chloe Fineman Has the Best Advice for Drinking During the Holidays
"I think a tradition with me and my sister is a bottle of Grey Goose and escaping the family function that's talking too much."
Chloe Fineman is brave.
When we catch up on a Zoom call in early December, she tells me that she'll be spending the holidays with her family in San Francisco — and taking the five-hour cross-country flight with Peach, her itty bitty Shiba Inu puppy.
"I got a puppy," Saturday Night Live star says. "It has made my family really want to see me all of a sudden." She turns her camera on ("I just hopped out of the shower, so I was like, 'You don't want to see me like this'") only to share Peach's little face, which is attached to a puddle of fur and a pink puppy belly.
I, too, have family in California and a Quarantine Puppy (can we call them Puppy Boomers?), the consequence of being in need of snuggles during a time when human contact has been limited, to say the least. I considered taking her on a plane for all of five minutes before my imagination ran wild with what her puppy-size bladder might be capable of, especially in a new environment where strangers are already on edge more than usual because of the pandemic.
Like I said, Chloe and Peach are brave.
The rest of us may need a bit of liquid courage to get through the holidays — a beer at the airport, a swig of whisky before Christmas dinner, three shots of tequila before meeting up with your acquaintances from high school at the local neighborhood bar on December 26. While you (I) may have naively equated Fineman's ability to polish celebrity impressions to perfection on Saturday Night Live to a flawless handling of any and all social interactions, it turns out that is not entirely the case. A freakishly accurate Drew Barrymore routine will only take you so far through the various social engagements (distanced, masked, or post-quarantined) that December has to offer.
The comedian has partnered with Prisoner Wine Company to support the hospitality industry through an order-in initiative, in which people can order through a group of restaurants (STK, Lure Fishbar, among them) as well as Drizly. "I think just the fact that you can have a bottle of wine delivered is luxurious and needed," Fineman says. With both the pandemic and a hectic SNL schedule, takeout has become a way of life.
"I'm just very into the takeout experience, but I usually am constantly having it with a Diet Coke or a flat Kombucha in my refrigerator. Being able to order wine with a nice meal is really wonderful," she notes, adding that she's grateful to support her favorite New York restaurants as well.
And with a new puppy, having an extra bottle around is always a blessing. "This biting thing leads to wine," she adds of Peach's mouthiness. "He woke me up the other day by biting my tits."
I asked Fineman to offer up her perfect pairings for every holiday situation you may find yourself in this year, from taking shots of Smirnoff with your siblings to perusing the local cemetery with your high school friends after drinks at a Tiki Bar.
The Hometown Reunion at the Tiki Bar Next to the Cemetery Where Your Grandma Is Buried
Fineman: I grew up in a small town that has a Tiki bar, randomly, in Northern California. There's always that one old teacher who's at the bar still, so in my case, Mr. Zeniker. You usually see a teacher from high school, and you're like, "Wow, you're still here!" And then, a lot of people I've hooked up with over the years, though we all are now a lot older. We're in our thirties, but everyone still goes to this place, usually on the 26th. It's usually the day after Christmas. And in the past, I've either snuck my own alcohol in or I go for hard alcohol.
[There's] a cemetery next to the Tiki bar. The high schoolers are always getting busted at the cemetery. It's very woodsy. Usually, a tradition is that we'll sneak out into the cemetery, which is real creepy, especially because my grandma is buried there. She's by the entrance, and I'm like, "What up!"
The Family Gathering with Your Super Liberal NorCal Hippie Family
I'm from Berkeley, California. Everyone in my family is extremely hippie. And extremely liberal, but almost in a sense where they're too open and sexual? I don't know, it's too free.
It's humiliating in the opposite sense of, "OK, we don't have to talk about your drug use in Baltimore with John Waters." Yeah, I would say, again, I would probably reach for something harder. Like a whisky? My sister and I growing up, we were really into vodka when the family was over. We'd sneak off in another room and be like, "Oh my God!"
I think a tradition with me and my sister is a bottle of Grey Goose and escaping the family function that's talking too much.
The Office Holiday Party, Whatever That Looks Like This Year
Well, my new office holiday parties are in the writer's room at SNL. It's actually very fun. Everyone brings gifts. There's a lot of sugar. Yeah, I guess I'd drink a white wine, Prisoner Chardonnay? Or I like rosé. It's my party drink.
Usually at those parties it's hard alcohol, and then someone's got rosé, and they fancy.
Drinking Alone Because You're Afraid of Infecting Your Family
My suggestion would be to order yourself the fanciest meal, whether it's beautiful sushi, just treat yourself to a beautiful meal, and pretend it's your last dinner. It's your last supper. And then, make it the best it can be. Be shameless and go off. And, if you need a pizza afterwards, do that too.