Winter Quarter has begun and it is fucking cold. Living on Del Playa Drive went from being a gorgeous, warm, oceanfront home to a dreary, wet, freezing igloo. I’ve only been back a few days and already noticed a transformation in the way people dress, act, and of course, drink. People are dressing warmer. No more sexy skirts, stylish shorts, sandals or T-shirts. Now it is coats, scarves and jeans. Although Isla Vistans are happy to be back from the holidays, it is a little depressing the weather is shit. This cold weather will play a large role in the way we party this quarter.

During the last few nights of partying, I have been constantly hearing references to the “beer coat.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, I shall use the Urban Dictionary definition. “Beer coat (n.): The invisible force that keeps you warm, irrelevant of the external temperature, after consuming vast amounts of alcoholic liquid refreshment.” Basically, when you walk home at 3 a.m. in freezing weather, the beer coat keeps you warm while you are piss drunk. This drunk jacket is no myth – it really works. But how does it work? Is it a good idea to drink the cold away?

Normally when we feel cold, it is because the blood from our skin flows into our organs to maintain a warm core temperature. When you consume alcohol, it reverses this natural body effect by causing blood to flow into the skin. This is what can cause a drunk person’s skin to be flush, or to feel warm. Although you feel warmer, your body temperature is actually decreasing. Because of this negative effect, drinking alcohol and not bundling up can put you at a great risk for getting hypothermia.

What about hot drinks? As nice as it feels to drink hot tea, coffee or chocolate, these warm drinks have a similar effect to alcohol. Drinking a hot beverage actually does not make you warmer. You may feel warmer for a little bit, but actually the same thing happens as with drinking alcohol. Your blood vessels dilate and blood flows to the skin. Body temperature decreases quickly, despite the warm feeling. Consuming hot beverages in the cold is great, but just be aware that you are actually making your body colder, and dress accordingly.

With that said, I would now like to introduce to you two excellent winter drinks: the Hot Toddy and Rumplemintz and cocoa.

A Hot Toddy can be made many different ways, but is basically another name for hot booze with a little sweetener. Its origin is believed to be Scottish, and is usually one of the few hot alcoholic beverages you can order at a bar. To make one, I suggest first heating up a few shots of whiskey or brandy in a coffee mug. If you can’t stand pure booze, dilute the alcohol with a few ounces of hot water. Next add a shot of honey. Last, throw in a few drops of lemon juice or just add a slice of a lemon. Drink and be merry.

The other delicious winter drink is a Rumplemintz and cocoa. I don’t know of any other names for this or any origin. To my knowledge, it was thought up by a few friends of mine who worked at Starbucks and used to drink on the job. The name pretty much says it all. Add a few shots of Rumplemintz or peppermint schnapps to some hot cocoa, and you have yourself a mighty fine, warm, delicious drink.

Remember, although these drinks will make you feel warm and happy, don’t go running around Isla Vista naked this winter because you will die of hypothermia.