by Andrew Coppolino | December 2022
The days are getting dark sooner and the temperatures are dropping. With summer’s warm days now gone, winter-time comfort and solace from the cold can be found in special drinks – inventive and delicious – that mark the season and the holidays.
Here are a few new seasonal bevies that will warm body and soul – and brighten spirits.
“Frosty” at Ennio’s Pasta House, Waterloo
A fitting name that harkens to everyone’s favourite snowman, Ennio’s Frosty is the creation of general manager Laura Wolff. “I wanted something that was fun and festive,” says Wolff. It is indeed that: Sprite, peppermint schnapps, vanilla vodka and blue curaçao, the drink is garnished with a cherry and a candy cane for an additional colourful flourish.
Describing it as not too sweet and not too strong, Wolff adds that, “I wanted the Frosty to be able to appeal to many different kinds of customers.” Sensing too that customers are wanting to get out and socialize since the pandemic lockdowns, Wolff is finding that in its early days the Frosty is generating conversation and gathering word-of-mouth notice. “I will bring the drink to the table, and everyone says it’s great. I think it elevates the dining experience and gives guests a chance to share that.”
“Cranberry-Whiskey Buck” at Rustico Kitchen and Bar, Kitchener
With a combination of whiskey, lemon juice, ginger beer and sugared cranberries, you can buck the trend of ordering the same-old same-old cocktail at Kitchener’s Rustico.
A “buck” is a style of beverage that traditionally draws on a spirit, some citrus and the spice and piquancy of ginger ale or ginger beer. It’s a drink with a myth (like many historic beverages): it’s a riff on the non-alcoholic bevie the “Horse’s Neck,” which was traditionally non-alcoholic ginger ale: when a spirit was added the drink was called a buck – because it contained a kick. “When crafting cocktails for this time of year, we look for familiar holiday flavours that set the stage for your dining experience,” says head chef and co-owner Simon Mathias. “It’s a cocktail you can enjoy on its own, but it has enough acidity and brightness to cut through some of the rich sauces and braised meats, like or beef short rib, that we prepare in more dishes during the colder months,” Mathias says. “It’s also an excellent digestif to cap off your visit.”
“Mull it Over” at S&V Uptown, Waterloo
Aaron Hatchell of S&V Uptown plays a key role at the elegant yet relaxed S&V Uptown in central Waterloo.
As his is practice, he takes a few basic ingredients and combines them in unique and delicious ways. This fall, he’s introduced something that you won’t need a lot of time to mull over before choosing.
The Mull it Over cocktail starts with Ontario-made NE1 Vodka to which is added Briottet blackberry liqueur.
“We also add chilled mulled wine and some acid-adjusted Concord grape juice,” says Hatchell.
The final few ingredients launch the drink well and truly into the stratosphere of wintry, warming flavours: dark fruit and winter spices, says Hatchell.
“It’s comforting and so appealing. The ingredients when put together are perfect for winter weather. The complement of baking spice notes and the nostalgia of traditional mulled wine really set it off.”
“Falling Leaves” at Wilks’ Bar, Langdon Hall, Cambridge
Head bartender Nathaniel Manns has created a spirit-free beverage at Langdon Hall Country House & Spa. “The beautiful thing is that you can always add a spirit to it, so it’s accessible to everybody,” he says. If spirited, he recommends a combination of Bourbon and Amaretto. “Vodka is good, too, because it doesn’t overwhelm the various flavours,” he notes. Otherwise, Manns makes the drink with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a fall-flavoured spice syrup of infused rooibos, apple, orange peel, and rose petal tisane alongside classic mulling spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.
“We then give it a foam texture and garnish it with locally foraged staghorn sumac powder. It has a bright red color for visual contrast and fruity citrus aroma.”
Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino.