It’s that time of year when throwing on the down coat to meet your friends loses its novelty, and so does weaving through crowds of other puffy-coat-clad bar-hoppers as though the bar were an overcrowded bumper-car arena. The time of year when one too many surprisingly steep Uber charges makes you decide you’ll spend all your nights reading. When no gastropub, concert venue or Michelin-rated bistro could possibly trump the comfort of your fleece throw. (Wool socks, too.)
It is now that the virtues of the night in and the adult sleepover shine. We had the right idea as kids: a few friends, a couch, a game console, maybe a pizza. Adult extravagance can have its place here, though; all it takes to elevate the classic game night is a capable host. Once you accept that responsibility, there are plenty of benefits to enjoy. For instance, your friends come to you. You choose the entertainment. And you decide what everyone’s drinking tonight. That said, hear out our recommendations before getting too drunk with power.
Want more options? Check out last year’s pairings.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
PS4 Pick: This cute-as-hell bullet hell puts you and one shipmate at the helm of a clearly understaffed, clearly two-sizes-too-big space ship, scrambling from room to room to steer it away from harm, commanding an increasingly gratuitous arsenal of laser cannons, and, most likely, screaming at each other (offscreen). If you and your shipmates are charismatic screamers, consider making like the rest of the internet and posting a video of your playthrough.
Pairing: Chilean Pisco Sour You see how colorful this game is? For the full effect, the drink’s gotta match. Since Lovers is a two-player affair, put the rest of your friends to work shaking and straining some Pisco Sours as they wait for their turns. Learn the Recipe
Xbox One Pick: It’s soccer, but with rocket-powered cars and a giant metal ball. Heard enough? No? Okay. Rocket League was a universal favorite among PC and PS4 gamers for the better part of 2015 for its fast-paced, chaotic, all-around ridiculous gameplay. It just hit the Xbox One, preloaded with your choice of three downloadable-content packages — allowing for countless customization options for your vehicles, game modes and playing fields. Plus, you can play footie (wheelie?) in the Armadillo from Gears of War and the Warthog from Halo.
Pairing: Beer Punch Grant Wheeler, beverage director for The Garret East (and West), showed us how to make this for Super Bowl Sunday. It’s drinkable and serve-able — everything you need for rocket-fueled footie. Learn the Recipe
Mario Kart 8
Wii U Pick: Okay, no, it’s not exactly new, and if you own a Wii U then you probably jumped on this one already. But regardless, even Smash Bros. still can’t approach moments like getting blasted by a blue shell inches away from the finish line. And if you haven’t played it yet — don’t you want to steer Mario through an upside-down racetrack in a Mercedes-Benz GLA?
Pairing: Hot Toddies Here’s what you’re gonna do. Make a large batch — large, like, in a stew pot — and keep it warm. Each drinker must have a hot toddy ready for each race, which he or she must finish before they cross the finish line. Too hot? That’s part of the challenge. Learn the Recipe
“Me-Time” Pick: Dreaming of the great outdoors? You’re not alone. Well — unless you’re having a night for yourself. Wrap yourself in those wilderness fantasies with Firewatch, which sets you loose in Yellowstone a year after the historic fires of ’88, with naught but a woman’s voice on a walkie-talkie to accompany you on your trek. The immersive, choice-driven story will make quick work of a night alone — given that you can easily finish it in a night.
Pairing: Suntory Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Treat yourself to a bottle ranked best in the world. Learn More