When it’s time to bundle up and seek refuge from the cold, a well-made cocktail can ease the bones and lift the spirit. The best way to do this is to use seasonal ingredients that evoke the spirit of winter.
As the gentlemen behind the bar at Rolf and Daughters in Nashville told us, it’s not necessarily about making a hot drink, although that can certainly be one approach. It’s more about incorporating the season, flavors and experience by using fresh citrus, baking spices, dark bitters and amaro combined with brighter spirits. Here are a few of the creations they shared with us to enjoy by our own hearths this winter.
Here Today, Saigon Amaro by Brice Hoffman
“This drink is a bright, refreshing bitter drink. The amaro and vermouth combined with fresh lime and cinnamon present bitterness with depth and richness. Great before or after a meal.”
.75oz Santa Maria al Monte Amaro
.75oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
.75oz fresh lime juice
.5oz Saigon cinnamon syrup*
1oz soda water
Combine all ingredients minus the soda water into a tin and shake vigorously with ice. Strain contents into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with mint sprig and enjoy.
*Saigon Cinnamon Syrup
Bring 2 cups of fine sugar, 2 cups water and 1 Tbsp. ground Saigon cinnamon to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain through cheese cloth or coffee filter to remove all solids. Refrigerate for up to one month.
The Nordic Mariner by Brice Hoffman and Ed Kolb
“This is a tiki-inspired winter drink. Solbeso is a distillate from the cacao fruit with similar characteristics of a Rhum Agricole. Combined with the fresh lime, orange shrub and honey to bring in acidity and depth, the winter ale softly rounds out the drink.”
1.5 solbeso cacao spirit
.5oz fresh lime juice
.5oz winter orange shrub*
.5oz honey syrup*
1oz Einstok Winter Ale
Combine all ingredients minus the Einstok Winter Ale into a tin and shake vigorously with ice. Strain contents into double Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with Einstok Winter Ale. Express orange peel oils and place in glass.
*Winter Orange Shrub
Using a vegetable peeler, peel off orange skin leaving behind the white bitter pith. Weigh and place skins in a container. Dice oranges, weigh and place in same container as skins. Next take combined weight of both orange flesh and skins and add half the weight in fine sugar. Cover and let sit in container until the oranges have dissolved the sugar. Next, add champagne vinegar in equal weight to the sugar, cover and refrigerate for 3 days. Remove and fine strain, being sure to remove all solids. Shrub should stay good for up to 6 months if refrigerated. We use Satsuma oranges, but feel free to experiment with your own tastes, adjusting sugar based on the sweetness of the orange.
Combine equal parts raw honey and water. Mix until blended.
Johnny Hammersticks by Reuben Bidez
“This cocktail is a coffee flip. Flips call for whole eggs. Yes, the yolk too. The egg provides a frothiness to the cocktail that is reminiscent of a traditional eggnog. The coffee will give you that boost you need during those late hours of family Christmas parties. Bourbon and cane syrup add the depth and richness, while the aromatics of the black walnut bitters will draw you in to the frothy goodness.”
1.5 oz Belle Meade Bourbon
1 oz cold brew coffee*
.75 oz cane syrup*
1 whole egg
3-4 dashes Black Walnut Bitters
Carefully crack your egg into your mixing tin. Combine all ingredients except for your bitters into the tin. Before adding ice, put the top on your tin and give it a quick shake (3-4 times just to emulsify the proteins in the egg). This will ensure that your cocktail will be light and frothy. Open tin carefully, as the pressure inside has increased since your “dry shake.” Add ice, shake vigorously and strain. Drop 3-4 dashes of bitters on top of your cocktail and give them a swirl with a sipping straw or toothpick.
*Cold Brew Coffee
We typically use a concentrated cold brew from Stumptown. However, you can often find cold brew coffee at your local Whole Foods. Another way is to brew a strong batch of coffee and then refrigerate before using. Plan on using twice as many coffee beans as you would for a normal pot of coffee.
Add 5 oz water to one 25-oz can of raw cane syrup. We use Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup. Mix until blended.