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News / Life / Clark County Life

Food & Drink: Winter survival kit 101 — hot boozy cocktails

By Rachel Pinsky
Published: December 28, 2018, 6:01am
4 Photos
Bartender Juliana Chau prepares Nana’s Lovin’ at The Grocery Cocktail & Social.
Bartender Juliana Chau prepares Nana’s Lovin’ at The Grocery Cocktail & Social. (Rachel Pinsky) Photo Gallery

It’s colder than Rudolph’s nose out there. Who couldn’t use a warm drink? I’m a Michigan native who rode my bike to work one winter through the frigid streets of Northern Michigan. My time freezing my booty off in the mitten-shaped state taught me that surviving winter requires a warm hat, a thick sweater, wool socks, a blazing, popping fire and hot boozy drinks.

Hot buttered rum at Smokehouse Provisions

I began my quest for warm, liquored-up goodness with this drink. Smokehouse is known for its smoked meats, but its craft cocktails are equally marvelous. This hot rum concoction is an unlikely pairing for ribs. Who cares about pairing when a drink goes down this smooth and makes you feel warm and toasty all over?

Hot buttered rum has been tippled from heated vessels since the colonial era. Its popularity has brought haters. David Embury, in his 1948 book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” threw down the gauntlet (or hot mug) when he declared that this was the worst hot drink and that the lump of butter is “the final insult.”

Bartender Audrey Logan added this drink to the menu as a cure for cold and nasty winter weather. To build this toasty cocktail, she mixes butter, brown sugar, honey and spices (cinnamon, clove and nutmeg). She adds the butter mix to rum in a coffee or tea cup with hot water, a cinnamon stick, cream and nutmeg. If Embury had Smokehouse Provisions’ hot buttered rum, he may have reconsidered his strong opposition to this luscious hot potion.

Hot toddy at WareHouse ’23

Invented in Scotland in the 1700s, this steamy blend of bourbon, honey, hot water and lemon has cured colds for centuries. At WareHouse ’23, this simple soothing refreshment is elevated by using Heritage Distilling Company’s Brown Sugar Bourbon.

Brown Sugar Bourbon is an award-winning oak barrel-aged bourbon with brown sugar and cinnamon flavors. To make WareHouse ’23’s version of this curative concoction, bourbon is added to hot water, sweetened with honey simple syrup, topped with slice of lemon and spiced with a cinnamon stick, all resting in an Irish coffee glass. This relieving cold-chaser has just the right amount of sweetness and citrus to balance out the luscious, intoxicating cinnamon and Brown Sugar Bourbon.

On my visit, as I caught up with a friend, this toasty beverage cloaked me like a cashmere blanket and the liquor muffled the sound of the singing piano player belting out songs just a couple of feet away from me.

Not Your Mama’s Moroccan at Amaro’s Table

Amaro’s Table’s beverage director Sara Newton created the recipe for this hot, alcohol-forward coffee drink. As with every drink at this cocktail lover’s Shangri-la, the mixture of spirits is impressive. Not Your Mama’s Moroccan contains a blend of Brown Jug Spirits’ Bourbon Cream, Cynar 70 (high alcohol content artichoke-based amaro), Stroh (Australian spiced rum) and Portland Roasters coffee. On my visit, bartender Preston Groves set the booze on fire and then topped the drink with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.

Sipping this drink felt like warming up at a swanky European ski chalet after a long day on the slopes. To complete this splashy ski bunny fantasy, I ordered the Bavarian cheese fondue — a bowl of sauce made from Swiss cheese and white wine served with a large, warm pretzel. The bowl of creamy fondue had just the right amount of sauce for dipping pieces of this monster pretzel, with a bit left over to lick the bowl.

I’ve never been to a European ski chalet. I can’t even ski. But this elegant coffee drink, combined with the buzzy guitar music (like My Bloody Valentine) and Amaro’s excellent happy hour menu, was the perfect way to while away a lazy wintery Sunday afternoon.

Nana’s Lovin’ at The Grocery Cocktail & Social

This inventive libation created by newbie bartender Juliana (Jules) Chau made me wonder why there aren’t more foods or drinks that combine chocolate and apple. Chau explained her inspiration: “The holidays are coming up, and I wanted people to feel love.” She added that she strived to put the taste of Grandma’s warm house in a glass.

Chau started with apple brandy but felt the drink needed more apple; so, she added apple cider. The result of her experimentation was Nana’s Lovin’ — Bellewood Acres apple brandy, Meletti Cioccolato (a rich chocolatey spirit), Combier (triple sec), hot apple cider and Drambuie (Scotch whisky liqueur infused with heather honey).

If You Go

What: Smokehouse Provisions.

Where: 8058 E. Mill Plain Blvd. (The Mill), Vancouver.

Contact: 360-768-5140 or www.smokehouseprovisions.com

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

What: WareHouse ’23.

Where: 100 Columbia Street #102, Vancouver.

Contact: 360-726-7256 or www.warehouse1923.com

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to “whenever you leave,” Monday to Saturday (21 and older after 9 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

What: Amaro’s Table.

Where: 1220 Main St., Suite 100, Vancouver.

Contact: 360-718-2942 or www.amarostable.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Happy Hour: bar, 2 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close; dining room, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

What: The Grocery Cocktail & Social.

Where: 115 W. Seventh Street, Vancouver.

Contact: 360-258-1324 or www.thegrocerycocktailsocial.com

Hours: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, minors welcome until 7:30 p.m.

To prepare this comfy sweater of spirits, Chau filled the glass with a hot mix of the apple cider and liquor, carved an orange peel into a heart shape and heated the peel to release its oils. She dusted the drink with powdered cinnamon. It tasted like a mash-up of hot chocolate and apple cider. Brilliant. Why isn’t this served everywhere?

You can email Rachel at couveeats@gmail.com. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @couveeats.