Money's tight, times are hard, here's your fucking Christmas card. Given all the bad news, I'm having trouble getting in the holiday spirit this year — so I'm making an effort to get out of the house and spend time with friends rather than stay at home fretting. Still, even at parties, people are chatting about their fears of losing their jobs/retirement funds/homes, and all I can offer as consolation is that housing interest rates are projected to drop to the high 4 percent range in January — which is like waiting for the frankincense and myrrh to be delivered. Fortunately, Denver's amazing independent restaurants are offering a gift right now: holiday drink specials that are certain to provoke discussion and provide good cheer. I'm one of the judges of the Holiday Cocktail Contest, and so far have made only a tiny dent in the sixteen-drink list — down from seventeen, which I discovered when I made the half-hour trip to Twigs last week, only to find it closed, with a sign noting "new idea in the making." Tambien, however, is not only open for business, but decorated for the season (think the Mexican version of Three Sons back in the day). And its Fresh Strawberry Malcriada is just as festive as the bar in which it's served, made with Herradura Silver tequila, Triple Sec, homemade margarita mix and fresh strawberries in the glass and on the rim. A couple of these and you'll be as sparkly and lit as Tambien itself. For a complete list of contest cocktails and to vote for your favorites (the winners will be announced December 15), go to www.eatdenver.com.