Some Like it HOT
Local Hot Cocktails to Help Get You Through the New England Winter.
My wife and I were visiting Florence for the first time, and we were enjoying the Italian city’s heady mix of art, history and shopping. Because it was a chilly autumn day, we slipped into the legendary Harry’s Bar and ordered a couple of hot coffees spiked with Baileys Irish Cream.
“No,” said our impeccably dressed waiter — an older gentleman in a smart white apron, starched white shirt, black bow tie and perfect hair. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” I asked.
“No,” he repeated. “I will bring you the coffee and the Baileys, but I will not bring you the Baileys in the coffee. It ruins both.”
So, being Americans, we did what Americans do. We did what we wanted. We ordered two coffees and two shots of Baileys, and when he wasn’t looking …
Thankfully, on these shores we are not as hung up on keeping our beverages so separate. Even in Colonial times, our forefathers liked spiked hot drinks that mixed all manner of ingredients on a chilly day.
A flip, for example, was a popular Colonial tavern drink as far back as the 1690s. A blend of beer, rum, molasses (or dried pumpkin), and eggs or cream, a flip was usually mixed in a pitcher and then whipped into a froth by plunging a hot fire poker (called a flip-dog) into it. Some historians say the drink had the taste of “liquefied earth.” Ugh.
We’ve come a long way since then. Pop into many of the Merrimack Valley’s fine bars and taverns this winter and you’ll be treated to a wild variety of spiked hot drinks that will keep you warm and toasty, and not taste a bit like liquefied earth.
The Buono Hot Chocolate
The favored seasonal drink at Buono Bistro in North Andover is definitely not for children … unless they are at least 21. Some of the ingredients seem innocuous: mint leaves, fresh cream, 1 ounce of peppermint schnapps. But when you learn that another key component is an ounce of gold “1800” tequila … suddenly you’re not in Kansas anymore. “It’s not the most obvious drink,” says restaurant manager Caitlin McLaughlin. “But we’ve found the flavors go really well together.”
(978) 258-0658 / BuonoBistro.com
The Black Honey Jack
Palmers Restaurant & Tavern in Andover has updated the traditional hot toddy this season in an awe-inspiring way. Go ahead, try making this at home. I dare you. Mix a half teaspoon each of black currant and fig jams with a dash of honey and lemon to taste, then add 2 ounces of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and hot cinnamon-infused water to taste. Yikes. Palmers owner John Ingalls says the drink has already been a big hit with the staff. “It has a nice wintery flavor,” he says, “with a little sweet and cinnamon to warm you up.”
(978) 470-1606 / Palmers-Restaurant.com
The Dirty Chai
Downtown Lowell’s Fuse Bistro has come up with a welcome variation of the standard coffee-based drink. Bartender Alia Jones says the place often creates its own hand-infused liqueurs, and it’s whipped up one that should please many imbibers: chai-infused coffee liqueur. Take 1.5 ounces of that, combine with 1.5 ounces of vanilla vodka, and add good coffee to taste. Voilà! Your basic java never went down so easily
(978) 323-0424 / Fuse-Bistro.com
Eggnog Hot Toddy
You say you want a little eggnog in your cutting-edge hot toddy? Not a problem. Just head over to Stonehedge Hotel & Spa in Tyngsborough. Bar manager Jared Bracci has just the thing. Bracci likes to use local products whenever possible, so Stonehedge’s cider-based drinks, for example, use cider from an orchard in his hometown of Hollis, N.H. His hot eggnog toddy includes 1.5 ounces of a local rum, such as Privateer out of Ipswich. Then he adds 1.5 ounces of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, a splash of Grand Marnier, and a few ounces of eggnog. Good night, everybody.
(978) 649-4400 / StonehedgeInnAndSpa.com
Few experiences help us endure our often frigid New England winters like good hot drinks in cozy environs. Whether you decide to make them yourself or to visit a local watering hole for some good conversation and a little pampering, you now have some very appealing options.
And even though our Florentine waiter expressed dismay over our “American” drinking habits, I’ve often thought that he might have tried our requested coffee drink as soon as we walked out the door.