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A&E >  Food

Making spirits bright – and warm

Come inside and try one of these winter warmers because, baby, it’s cold – and dark – outside.

These hot, boozy beverages were created by local bartenders to warm you up this winter. They’re cozy, comforting and cheek-warming. And, they’re available at a few favorite Spokane watering holes this season to make your spirits bright.

The creators of these concoctions share their recipes here, so you can mix these drinks at home if you’d like. Or, better yet, visit them at the bar and let them make one – or two – for you.



From Cody Winfrey of Cocktails by Cody in Spokane

With its dramatic presentation, the Snowfall – created last month by 25-year-old Cody Winfrey – looks like it could topple with the slightest touch.

It’s served in a stemless wine glass perched atop a rocks glass full of steaming hot water, which warms and opens up the super-boozy beverage. It’s strong and slightly sweet with a little spice on the finish.

“It kind of screams winter,” said Winfrey, who created the towering drink at the request of a customer who “wanted something that tasted like she could sit by the fireplace, awaiting the snow.”

It had snowed earlier that day, the first snow of the season – and it had melted by mid morning. The customer seemed “very stressed out.” She also wanted something with bourbon.

Winfrey mixed 1 1/2 ounces bourbon with 3/4 ounce of one of his new favorite ingredients – Germain-Robin Apple Brandy from a craft distillery in Northern California – with 1/4 ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram – “to make it cozy.”

Southern Sweet Tea

From Honor O’Neill of Butcher Bar at Sante Restaurant and Charcuterie, 404 W. Main Ave. in Spokane

Bartender Honor O’Neill moved to Spokane a year ago from Dallas, where sweet tea – hot or iced, depending on the season – is a staple.

“I’m a straight-up Dallas girl, accent and all,” said O’Neill, 41. “I wanted a throwback to the South and sweet tea as well as something seasonal. And I wanted to throw a little of myself in there.”

She made a similar drink in Dallas with sweet tea-flavored vodka. Here, to give it a more Pacific Northwest appeal, she opted for 1 ounce of sweetened, concentrated Sattwa Chai from Oregon “for a little bit more spice” and to “you know, just to make it a little bit more complex.” She also added a dash of cardamom bitters.

The rest of the bourbon-based beverage – she uses 1 1/2 ounces of Old Grand-Dad – includes 1 1/2 ounces of hot water, 1 ounce of simple syrup made from local honey and 1/4 ounce of orange-flavored liqueur. She prefers Grand Marnier.

The result is very approachable, but “really not terribly sweet,” O’Neill said. “It’s delicious. It just has a little bit of honey in there and all of my favorite things.”

Peated Tea

From Simon Moorby of Hogwash Whiskey Den, 304 W. Pacific Ave. in Spokane

Look for this toddy-style libation on the chalkboard at the newly opened Hogwash Whiskey Den, where it will be a special this holiday season.

The hot drink is slightly smokey, thanks to 1 ounce of peated whiskey – which is balanced by 3/4 ounce of thyme-coriander liqueur and another 3/4 ounce of simple syrup made with local honey.

There’s a dash of orange bitters in there, too – as well as 3/4 ounce of apple brandy and about 2 ounces of hot water. Lemon juice – just 1/4 ounce – brightens it all up, but “it’s not overly acidic,” said creator Simon Moorby, 38.

“The drink is rounded out by the peat, but upfront is the acidity and some savory elements,” said Moorby, who garnishes this winter warmer with an orange twist.

For him, it evokes a fireplace scene and a sense of coziness. “I wanted something comforting and savory,” he said. “It’s a soothing cocktail.”

Fireside Cider

From Conner Hare at Volstead Act, 12 N. Post St.

On the menu since early autumn, this spiked cider – created by Volstead Act assistant general manager Conner Hare – will warm up customers until the end of the year, if not longer.

“What’s great about Conner’s Fireside Cider is you get that bitter herb note from the Aperol, but it balances out the cranberries and cider,” said his boss, general manager Chelsea Tolle, 30. “You get that nice warmth in your tummy from the hot apple cider, too.”

The winter warmer features 2 ounces of Aperol, 1 ounce of Lillet Blanc, 1/4 ounce of ginger simple syrup, 1/4 of ounce orange juice and 2 dashes of cranberry bitters. It’s topped with hot apple cider and garnished with a cinnamon stick. Its secret ingredient: 1 teaspoon of homemade cranberry sauce, made by boiling down fresh cranberries with a little water and sugar.

“To me,” Tolle said, “it’s sitting around a warm campfire. Or, it’s the night before Christmas and you’re waiting to open your presents and you’re sitting around with your family playing card games.

“It’s very reminiscent of Christmastime and the holidays.”

Hot Mulled Wine

From Patty Tully, Cori McWilliams and Casey Strain at Baby Bar, 827 First Ave.

Baby Bar’s signature winter warmer made its debut at the establishment’s first Winter Formal event, agree owner Patty Tully and bartender Casey Strain; they just can’t can’t remember if that was four or five years ago.

Their recipe, a collaboration with bartender Cori McWilliams, makes enough for about 6 quarts, perfect for a party. That’s where this trio served it before the annual Winter Formals began, keeping it warm in a slow-cooker for large crowds.

“It always makes me think of friends and family. That’s always when I drank it before we had it here,” said Strain, 34. “We usually put it on as soon as it starts to get cold, about the second week of October, and we’ll have it through at least February.”

The trio makes their mulled wine by boiling 5 cups of water and 5 cups of sugar with 1/4 cup cloves, a large pinch of cardamom pods and 5 cinnamon sticks. When a spiced simple syrup forms, they add the peel of 1 orange, 2 cups brandy and 5 bottles of wine – preferably, Strain said, a red blend. At Baby Bar, they use Red Table Wine from Townshend Cellars in Green Bluff.

The result is spicy, sweet, citrusy and popular. Baby Bar goes through about two batches per week, said Strain, who pours the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve before serving the hot drink in mugs garnished with an orange slice.

“It’s best consumed,” he said, “in a non-white shirt.”


From Crystal Bertholic of Ruins, 825 N. Monroe St.

Bartender Crystal Bertholic named this winter warmer for the legendary actress Sofia Loren, whom she calls “the Italian Marilyn Monroe.”

There are a couple of Italian liqueurs in the toddy-style beverage. It has a bit of a kick – brightness, too. That’s due to 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 ounce of cayenne- and peppermint-infused honey.

“I wanted to do something that would warm you up from the inside out, something you wouldn’t feel guilty about drinking,” said Bertholic, who serves Sofia in a mug, topped with hot water and garnished with star anise and a lemon twist.

She prefers 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of Rittenhouse rye, but bourbon would be OK, too. She also adds 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, 1/2 ounce Fernet Branca, 1/2 ounce Strega and 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur or simple syrup. A little freshly grated ginger would also work.

“We’re going for full medicinal,” said Bertholic, 34. “Peppermint calms and eases the throat. Cayenne and lemon, they’re both medicinal as well. Fernet and Strega are packed full of all kinds of antioxidants, including methol and saffron. It’s kind of an apothecary kind of drink. This will cure what ails you. This will help you out.”

Warmth of My Heart

From Suzie Bertholic of Ruins, 825 N. Monroe St.

Bartender Suzie Bertholic, 30, sister of Sofia creator Crystal Bertholic and her co-worker at Ruins, created this toddy-style drink because she wanted, her sister said, “something that would warm your heart. It is one of her signature drinks.”

She combines 1 ounce Cynar, 1 1/2 ounces chamomile liqueur and 3 dashes of Angostura bitters with hot water and serves the comforting sipper in a mug with a muddled lemon wheel.

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