Cozy up to the counter at The Onion Bar and Grill on an ice-cold evening, ask the lead bartender for a winter warmer, and he’ll probably recommend two particular cups of holiday cheer: one with coffee, one with cocoa, both with a little kick.
The Oatmeal Cookie – a mix of butterscotch schnapps, Baileys Irish Cream, Jägermeister, Goldschläger and hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and cinnamon – is rich, decadent and one of the downtown restaurant’s most popular holiday drinks.
The Chata Coffee, invented in-house about a month ago, is a concoction of Kahlua, crème de cacao, Chata Rum, coffee, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.
Both, said Nate Laird, “are gonna warm your bones.”
“They taste like all the holidays,” he said, “Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.”
Holiday cocktails basically fall into two camps: winter warmers and seasonal refreshers. With festive flavors like crisp cranberry or cool mint and comforting toddies or spiked teas, local lounges offer plenty of options for making spirits bright during the darkest and coldest months of the year.
Here’s a look at just a few.
If you want to celebrate the season in your own home, recipes for many of these drinks can be found online at the Spokesman-Review’s Too Many Cooks blog.
Or, leave it to the professionals and visit to their establishments.
Chill in the air, warmth in your cup
Winter warmers don’t have to be heavy, cream-topped creations. While coffee- and hot cocoa-based beverages tend to be really rich, tea- and cider-based drinks are a little less filling but still pack a punch.
The Two Seven Public House, tucked in a back corner of the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center at 2727 S. Mt. Vernon St., offers a Chilean Toddy featuring Alto del Carmen Pisco, lemon juice and agave nectar in orange spice black tea with orange zest and cayenne.
It has other light but boozy classics, too, such as Blueberry Tea, with amaretto and Grand Marnier in hot black tea with lemon, and a traditional Hot Toddy, with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey, fresh lemon juice and hot water.
Impulse Night Club at Northern Quest Resort & Casino at 100 N. Hayford Road in Airway Heights makes its Tea Toddy with a twist: Earl Grey, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Black Velvet Caramel Whisky.
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is the key ingredient in two popular hot boozy beverages back at The Onion, 302 W. Riverside Ave. in downtown Spokane: Hot Jac’d Apple and Hot Buttered Fireball.
The Winter Sips menu at Butcher Bar, the new lounge at Santé, 404 W. Main Ave. in downtown Spokane, also offers contemporary takes on classic seasonal cocktails. Its five $8 cold-weather offerings were developed by lead bartender Amanda Pankratz, who adapted a Hot Buttered Rum recipe from Diane Hansen, mother of bar owner and chef Jeremy Hansen. It involves no premade mix; spices are blended by hand for each made-to-order mug topped with 1.5 ounces of Amrut Old Port Rum.
“It’s nice after dinner, instead of a dessert, to get a warm cup to hold of something delicious,” said Kate Hansen, who owns the restaurant and bar with her husband.
They press their own Gala apples, grown in Wenatchee, and craft their own clove tincture for their spiked cider, which uses Kirk and Sweeny Rum. Their eggnog is made in-house, by hand, in small batches.
The Hansens aim to use local and organic ingredients in all their offerings. The bar’s bourbon tea, for instance, features honey from Spokane’s Five Mile neighborhood, organic citrus mint tea and edible essential oil.
It won’t just warm you up, Kate Hansen said. “It’s good for you, too, because this essential oil is amazing for your immune system.”
Get spirited away with seasonal refreshers
Its official moniker is Benevolent Spruce. But Kristi Gamble likes the name Blushing Pine better. She developed the crisp cocktail at the request of Spokane’s Dry Fly Distilling for this year’s national tree-lighting ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The tree came from the Colville National Forest, north of Spokane, and the reception featured Washington state specialties, including Dry Fly gin. Gamble, bar manager at Clover, 913 E. Sharp Ave. in Spokane’s Logan Neighborhood, had only a couple of days to create the cocktail, which is available for $9.
“It’s not like you need a secret passcode or anything, but it’s not on our menu,” she said. “You have to ask for it, the tree-lighting drink. It’s kind of like Christmas in a glass.”
Benevolent Spruce features pomegranate juice, Campari, cranberry bitters, allspice liqueur, lemon juice and fresh rosemary.
There’s fresh mint muddled with fresh cranberries and Mount Gay rum in the Winter Mojito at Northern Quest’s Impulse Night Club. And there’s fresh basil in the club’s holiday take on a traditional gimlet. Agave nectar gives the Basil Gimlet a hint of sweetness, balancing Hendrick’s gin and lime juice.
For creamier, cool drinks, try the Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake Martini, combining Stolichnaya Razberi vodka, Baileys Irish Cream and chocolate liqueur. At Masselow’s Lounge, also at Northern Quest, a popular seasonal favorite is the Pumpkin Pie Martini made with Absolut vanilla vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua and pumpkin liqueur, garnished with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.