Hot Drinks for Cold Nights
With a winter cold snap finally enveloping the Washington area, I wanted to share a few of the best warm drinks I've tasted this year.
Harrison's Spiced Apple Cider
Where: Round Robin Bar
How much: $14
Why you'll like it: One of bartender Jim Hewes's classic American cocktails, this one harks back to the days of President William Henry Harrison, a frontiersman who drank hard cider instead of aristocratic champagne. That's not to say it doesn't have an upscale touch or two: it's a warming mix of Laird's Applejack, which is made from apple brandy, and a touch of the French liqueur Grand Marnier. The two are combined with hot cider, a large orange slice and a spoonful of spices in a tall, funnel-shaped glass. Together, the cocktail is very smooth and rich -- the apple taste is fresh and crisp, with just a bit of a tang from the Applejack and a hint of cinnamon in the spice. (Hint: I found that muddling the orange in the bottom of the glass makes the flavor more full.) This is the perfect way to warm up after ice skating at the Pershing Park rink next door.
How much: $9
Why you'll like it: Gina Chersevani of Rasika is one of the most creative mixologists around, and this new drink -- it's not even on the menu yet, so you'll have to ask -- is no exception. She simmers persimmon, cinnamon and a vanilla bean, then adds Crown Royal Cask 16, the classy version of the Canadian whiskey that's aged in oak cognac casks. The taste has the soft whiskey bite of a toddy, but the sweet, citrus flavor of persimmon and the smoky cinnamon and vanilla add an extra complexity and a fuller body.
How much: $12
Why you'll like it: Firefly's woody lounge has more of an apres-ski feel when there's a nip in the air. The Amber, a highlight of the new winter cocktail menu, would be welcome coming in off the slopes. It starts with a thick drizzle of maple syrup into a large handled mason jar, which is then topped with a solid measure of Bulleit bourbon and finished with hot apple cider. Bulleit is made with more rye than most American bourbons, leading to a smoother taste, and its oaky flavor blends well with the house cider.
The Hot Blonde
Where: PS 7's
How much: $11; discounted to $7 at happy hour (5-7 p.m. weekdays)
Why you'll like it: Chamomile tea is used as an anti-inflammatory agent and believed to help fight colds, among other traditional uses. But my new favorite reason to drink chamomile comes from PS 7's bartender Tiffany Short, who's created a cocktail that's as soothing as a mug of warm tea on a winter evening. Short infuses the classic Plymouth Gin with chamomile leaves for the base, then adds honey, lemon and hot water. The result is a little more herbal than straight tea -- probably down to the coriander, cardamom and juniper in the Plymouth -- but delicious, and it'll clear up your stuffy nose as you nurse your glass.
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