Temperatures are dropping, trees are losing leaves and turkeys are looking frightened — but there’s no reason to dread the approaching cold dampness of the holiday season.
Clark County is a great place to warm up with a hot drink in the dark days of late fall and winter.
Several spots even have a roaring fire that you can cozy up to with your glass.
The Heathman Lodge (7801 N.E. Greenwood Drive), home of Hudson’s Bar and Grill, has a host of signature warmers, such as the Hudson Spanish Coffee, that you can sip on at the establishment’s fireside lounge.
“The drink (Spanish coffee) is lit on fire, and you get caramelized sugar on the rim, which gives it a wonderful taste when mixed with rum, whipped cream and coffee,” said Brandon Daugherty, a server at Hudson’s. “A lot of people like to sit by the fire on the sofa and drink our hot drinks in the winter.”
Spanish coffee is somewhat ubiquitous around the county. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said it’s his favorite warm drink of the season.
“There are a couple of places in Vancouver, Tommy O’s (801 Washington St.) and Gray’s at the Hilton (301 West Sixth St.), that both make a very good Spanish coffee,” Leavitt said. “I also like going to the Heathman, although I haven’t had their Spanish coffee.”
For a nonalcoholic hot drink by the fire, Coffee Villa (13011 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.) has a variety of seasonal latte drinks and a spiced apple cider that you can enjoy in its woody lounge, where the fireplace is lit most mornings and evenings and is surrounded by lounge chairs and a comfortable sofa.
“Probably our most signature warm winter drink is the pumpkin pie latte,” said owner Linda Selivanow. “A lot of places have pumpkin lattes, but we put a little nutmeg in ours, which makes them especially yummy.”
Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters (703 Grand Blvd.) has no fireplace, but along with their house-roasted selection of coffees, they do have a nice hot cider with warming spices — like cinnamon and nutmeg — to heat you up, said Maren Steen, a barista.
“We mix them together cold then steam them, which really pulls the oils from the warming spices into the drink,” Steen said.
Candles might seem odd in a fireplace, but at The Grant House (1101 Officers Row), they create a little warmth and atmosphere to go along with the bar’s selection of warm winter drinks.
“It’s a historic building and it’s very old, so we can’t light fires in the fireplaces, but the candles do warm things up and set a mood,” said Danielle Eaton, a bartender and server there. “There are fireplaces in pretty much every room, but the bar’s the warmest room in the house, because the door’s usually closed so it traps in the heat.”
The most popular hot drink at the establishment is probably the spiced apple cider, made with Tuaca vanilla citrus liquor, whipped cream and cinnamon, she said.
“It tastes just like an apple pie,” Eaton said.
Other favorites are the ubiquitous Spanish coffee and the chai toddy, made with spiced rum, peppermint schnapps, honey and chai tea.
“It’s really awesome for wintertime,” Eaton said.
If you’re looking for a hot toddy, which is loosely defined as a hot mixed drink with alcohol that is typically served before bedtime, then the Birch Street Uptown Lounge in Camas (311 N.E. Birch St.) has some options for you.
There’s no fireplace in the classic cocktail lounge, but the warm drinks will heat you up fast, said Kevin Taylor, owner.
“Last year I actually had my hot toddy menu available through June because it was so cold through the spring,” Taylor said.
His recommendation is the Birch Street Rum Toddy, made with The Kraken spiced rum. The bar also makes a selection of Irish and other coffees and a hot buttered rum drink with real butter.
For nonalcoholic coffee drinks, River Maiden’s two Vancouver coffeehouses (701 Main St. and 602 N. Devine Road) — which are sadly fireplace free — have a few seasonal specialties to take the chill off.
The stores’ Al Pacino is sort of like an Americano, but with steamed half-and-half. It has a richer, more textured flavor than a typical Americano, said Zack Stahl, manager of the Dripster store downtown.
“The steamed half-and-half pairs well and gives it a bit of sweetness,” Stahl said.
Another drink at the store is the Camargo, named after the customer that thought up the recipe, Stahl said.
“It’s basically a traditional-style cappuccino with a third espresso, a third steamed milk and a third foamed milk,” he said. “We put caramel in the bottom and then drizzle caramel on top in a special pattern.”
The Dragonfly Chai is also popular. It’s made in Portland and is a little spicier than other chai types you might find around town, he said.
For a roaring fire and a little German flavor, Gustav’s (1705 S.E. 164th Ave.) has something for just about everyone in the family to enjoy, said Nicole Durham, a bartender.
The restaurant’s most unusual drink is probably the Gluwein, which is a German mulled wine made with merlot and spices.
“We steam the wine right in front of you and we make a new batch every day,” Durham said. “We go through quite a bit of it, especially during the holiday season.”
Other favorites include the Hot and Spicy Buttered Rum, made with Captain Morgan rum and a secret mix of buttered spices that Durham refused to share, and the Hot Buttered Baby, which is a mix of Buttershots, Bailey’s Irish Cream and hot chocolate.
Alas, there’s no fireplace in the bar — it’s in the main dining room, but it’s still plenty warm and pretty watching the rare snowfall through the bar’s stained glass window, she said.
And there are places for the kids to sit nearby and enjoy hot apple cider or hot chocolate.
Gustav’s restaurant, 1705 S.E. 164th Ave., Vancouver, 360-883-0222
1 bottle (750 ml) of merlot
2 peeled and sliced oranges (keep peel to add zest to taste into cooking pot)
1 lemon zest
3/4 cup brandy
2/3 cup honey
5 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon fresh allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Orange wheels and cinnamon sticks to garnish
To make the perfect cup of Gustav’s Gluwein, combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that the honey has completely dissolved. When the wine is steaming and the ingredients have been well blended strain through a cheese cloth. Serve warm, garnished with a cinnamon stick and orange wheel.
Grant House Spiced Apple Cider
The Grant House, 1101 Officers Row, Vancouver, 360-906-1101
2 ounces Tuaca vanilla citrus liquor
1 mug hot spiced apple cider
Pour 2 ounces of Tuaca liquor into a mug of hot spiced apple cider. Top with whipped cream, add cinnamon to garnish.
Heathman Lodge Hudson’s Bar and Grill Hudson Spanish Coffee
The Heathman Lodge, 7801 N.E. Greenwood Drive, Vancouver, 360-254-3100
1 1/2 ounce Bacardi 151
1/2 ounce Contreau
2 ounces Kahlua
1 cup of coffee
Fresh whipped cream
Cinnamon and other spices
Sugar-rimmed tempered glass, lighter
Put the rum and Contreau in the sugar-rimmed glass and carefully ignite. Add Kahlua and coffee to douse the flames. Top with whipped cream and spices to taste.
Birch Street Uptown Lounge Jamison Hot Toddy
Birch Street Uptown Lounge, 311 N.E. Birch St., Camas, 360-210-7219
1.5 ounces of Jamison Irish Whisky
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup of scalding hot water
Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the 1.5 ounces of Jamison Irish Whisky. Stir in 1 tablespoon of honey. Top off with scalding hot water.
By The Bottle Hot Spiced Hard Apple Cider
By The Bottle, 104 W. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, 360-696-0012
1 750 ml (same size as wine bottle which is 24.5 ounces) bottle of Blue Mountain Eden Ridge Hard Cider, (Milton, Ore.)
1 750 ml bottle of Blue Mountain Dry Creek Hard Cider
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bag mulling spices
Pour cider into slow cooker, turn to high. In a small saucepan, pour apple juice over sugar and cinnamon. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Pour juice mixture into slow cooker. Add mulling spices. Simmer for one hour. Turn slow cooker down to low heat to keep warm.
Note: Teiton Cider Works, Teiton, Wash. and Carlton Cyderworks, McMinville, Ore. also have good cider varieties for this recipe.
Coffee Villa Spiced Apple Cider
Coffee Villa, 13011 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Suite 106, Vancouver, 360-892-0233
1 mug apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
Heat apple juice to steaming on stove or in the microwave (they steam it by machine in the store), stir in a few tablespoons of cinnamon sugar, garnish with a cinnamon stick.
River Maiden Camargo
River Maiden, 701 Main St. and 602 North Devine Road, Vancouver, 360-859-3133
1 mug cappuccino
Drizzle caramel in the bottom of a coffee mug or cup. Add cappuccino. Top with whipped cream. Drizzle caramel on top of whipped cream.