Cheers November/December 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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me of coming home from school in December, opening my front door and smelling our Christmas tree," Lennox says. In general, he says, "I love seeing drinks that have a little flair, like a candy cane." Ruby Tuesday promotes its limited-time drink offerings through table tents and feature menus. Peppermint remains a popular flavor for holiday drinks. Café B by Ralph Brennan, a 110-seat American bistro/gastro pub in Metairie, LA, offers the Minty Irish ($10), made with Pinnacle Peppermint Bark vodka, Cruzan Velvet Cinn horchata cream liqueur and a splash of cream. The four locations of the Mexican-inspired restaurant Mercadito offer the Lake Effect, a cocktail made with wintergreen-infused tequila blanco, kaffir lime syrup, lime juice, grapefruit juice, El Yucateco (a Mexican green habanero sauce) and a cinnamon-salt rim on the glass. Mercadito also offers holiday-themed "beertails," such as the Cookie Cutter. It's made with gingerbread- and rooibos-teainfused reposado tequila, Ferrand Curaçao, orange and lemon juice, topped with Negra Modelo on draft. Holiday cocktails at Mercadito range from $10.50 to $13, depending on location. SPICE IT UP Honoring the flavors of the season is the best way to market holiday drinks, according to the Tippling Bros. The consulting team of Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay design the cocktails for the nine-concept Mercadito Hospitality in Chicago. "When I think of holiday cocktails, my mind always goes to cooking spices," notes Jenny Buchhagen, lead mixologist at the 124-seat Stonehill Tavern. The Michael Mina-operated concept is in the 400-room St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel in Dana Point, CA. Buchhagen frequently uses cinnamon and nutmeg in the cocktail shaker, as well as more-exotic spices such as star anise and cardamom. Stonehill's Taj cocktail ($14) is made with Old Raj gin, fresh orange juice, Campari, old-fashioned bitters and a house-made chai syrup. Homemade jams can also add depth of flavor and just the right amount of sweetness to holiday tipples, Buchhagen says. She is now experimenting with adding ingredients like pear/apple butter and strawberry/rose geranium to her Market Cocktail ($16), an ever-evolving libation featuring a seasonal jam. Nick Jones, lead bartender at the Michael Mina-owned Pabu—a 116-seat izakaya at the 256-room Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore—also uses a house-made jams in cocktails. The Fig Pimpin ($11) is made with fig jam, Hennessy VS Cognac, Fernet Branca, lemon, honey and Angostura bitters, and served over a large cube with a fig garnish. SMOKY AND SAVORY Carducci and Tanguay look to the earthy agave spirit mezcal to add smoky notes to seasonal drinks—rendering thoughts of sitting by a roaring fire around the holidays. The Alfie's Apple cocktail mixes mezcal with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon, honey, Sidral Mundet (a Mexican, apple-flavored The Smokey Nog at Storefront Company in Chicago is part of the operator's Kitchen Cocktails program. soda), Peychaud's bitters and Chinese five-spice powder. The Manzanasada combines tequila blanco, mezcal, apple cider, lemon and ginger beer. At the 65-seat Storefront Company, a modern farm cuisinefocused restaurant in Chicago, chef/partner Bryan Moscatello features the festive and sophisticated Smokey Nog ($9), which is part of the restaurant's Kitchen Cocktails program. The libation uses Laphroaig Scotch, Carpano Antica, Bénédictine, pimento dram allspice liqueur, organic egg and cream, and it's served with a plate of crisp shortbread cookies. Moscatello's eggnog riff has a decidedly smoky and herbal element—fitting for those who consider the traditional version to be too sweet. "I think savory ingredients will be more involved with holiday drinks this year," he says. "Sweet isn't out entirely, but savory elements are being brought into the forefront." Speaking of eggnog, Quill bar at the 96-room Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. serves a signature version of the creamy standard; the exact recipe is secret, but it includes Madeira. The Thomas Jefferson-influenced 63-seat bar (and adjacent restaurant) Plume has a huge Madeira program—Jefferson loved the fortified wine so much he toasted the Declaration of Independence with it. Madeira adds great acidity to the rich egg and cream, as well as multidimensional notes. The eggnog, which sells for $15, is a customer favorite: "We have some return guests throughout the year that request it when they stay with us—even in the summer," notes Jefferson Hotel food and beverage manager Sofia Celasco. Regional ingredients often find their way into nog these days. Café B.'s Eggnog Martini ($8) is made with local products NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 | 21

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