As the temperature continues to drop in the Merrimack Valley, folks are looking for ways to stay warm. ’Tis the season for dusting off our sweaters, donning fashionable scarves, and pulling those comfy woolen mittens from the back of the closet. For our money, the best defense against the cold is mounting a strong offense in liquid form, imbibing hot cocktails that’ll warm up even the frostiest New Englander.
We’ve scoured restaurants in the Merrimack Valley, sampling every pumpkin sugar rim (in the name of research, of course), and found incredible drinks designed to keep your insides cozy. And, as a boozy bonus, we’ve included full recipes for each of these craft creations so you can take the DIY approach and build a fire in your belly, cinnamon stick by cinnamon stick, from the comfort of your own home.
After nine years working at various restaurant groups and living in Chicago’s innovative food and beverage scene, Aislyn Plath, a Lowell-area native, returned home to apply some Midwestern inspiration to Stones #1 Social, a bar-focused restaurant in southern New Hampshire that opened in June. Featuring creative comfort food, the restaurant boasts a large wood-burning stove, a “beautiful feature that makes our space smell like your grandmother’s fireplace,” Plath notes. When building out her seasonal drink menu, she wanted to highlight warm liquids like bourbon, scotch and spiced rums, and is now featuring a twist on a warm apple cider, with locally-sourced apples from Lull Farm in Hollis. “I love talking about cocktails and I love the accessibility of it all,” Plath says. “Anyone can bartend, and anyone can go home and make drinks.”
WARM APPLE CIDER
1 quart favorite apple cider (unpasteurized is best)
3 ounces orange juice 3 cinnamon sticks
1-inch piece fresh ginger 6 slices fresh orange
2 teaspoons clove 2 teaspoons white peppercorn
Put all of the ingredients into a slow cooker or pan on low heat for 1-2 hours, which will bring an amazing aroma into your space. Serve as is or with your choice of bourbon, spiced rum or brandy. Stones serves it with a rum that is smoked in-house.
If you want to avoid sipping on the bits, wrap your smaller spices in cheesecloth or a coffee filter and tie them in a bundle before placing them in the cider.
Beverage Director, Stones #1 Social