Steamy Spirits

Heat up your winter with exciting new twists on old-fashioned hot cocktails.

Steamy Spirits


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Hot cocktails to heat up the coldest nights.


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It’s that time of year: The thermometer is plunging, and soon the snow will be blowing. Luckily, ’tis also the season for a whole new generation of hot cocktails to help keep you warm this winter. All around the region, bartenders are adding tasty new twists to classic cold-weather favorites like Irish coffee and hot toddies — and the results are simply delicious.




At Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, Beverage Specialist Kristen Schaefer created three new hot drinks that will debut this winter. “Usually, when I create a drink, it takes me hours, but these just came so easily. I got the idea for the Campfire Café when I was eating a S’mores candy bar,” says Schaefer about her innovative hot chocolate-coffee mix. Hot toddies, thought to have originated in Scotland, have long been a personal favorite. “They’re very warming and soothing, and they do make you feel better if you’re sick.” And the imaginatively named fig drink? “People love fruit. The flavor works really well here.” Mostly, these drinks will be enjoyed after dinner, says Schaefer, who notes that some Shadows patrons like to bundle up in a sweater during the afternoon and walk outside on the patio. “The ice in the river is so beautiful, and we serve a lot of warming, comforting food, too.”

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Schaefer shares her recipes, and also offers tips for those experimenting at home. “Try using rums and cognacs. They both heat up very well and mix well with other flavors,” she says. “And don’t forget the cinnamon and the honey, they’re great accents for many drinks.”


Fig-Mint of My Imagination

This is made in a batch using a coffee pot

 3 figs,  5 blackberries,  6 raspberries, 3 bags of white tea,  1 cup Rémy Martin cognac, 1/4 cup Licor 43, 1/4 cup simple syrup, 6 cups water

Place fruit and tea bags in a coffee filter. Add remaining ingredients to coffee pot. Brew twice. Fill glass 7/8 full and top with spiced crème. Garnish with a blackberry and a mint sprig. Serve in a footed glass mug.


Honey Nut Toddy

 3/4 oz Drambuie , 1/2 oz Frangelico, 1 tsp honey , 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice, 5 oz vanilla nut creme tea

Mix all ingredients. Top with vanilla cream. Garnish with Honeycomb cereal. Serve in a footed glass mug, with a spoon.



Campfire Café           


3/4 oz Starbucks Coffee liqueur, 1/2 oz Dr. McGillicuddy’s Vanilla Schnapps liqueur, 5 oz cayenne pepper-infused hot chocolate,         Garnish: marshmallow, graham cracker

Add liqueurs and hot chocolate to about 7/8 full. Cover entire surface with marshmallow, then torch until blackened. Gently lie graham cracker on top, slightly hanging off the edge. Place chocolate spider-web on top of the graham cracker. Serve in a footed glass mug, with a spoon.



Twist and Mulled Wine

 1 bottle (750 ml) medium-bodied Pinot Noir (fruity), 6 oz Hennessy cognac, 3 oz orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau), 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup ginger simple syrup, 3 whole cloves, Dash of freshly grated nutmeg , Garnish: orange zest

Pour the bottle of wine into a quart pot. Add other ingredients. Cook on low heat (do not boil) for 30 minutes. Remove and garnish with orange zest. Reheat as needed.



Twisted Hot Chocolate with Grand Marnier

 1 cup whole milk, 6 oz milk chocolate, 2 oz dark chocolate, 4 oz Grand Marnier, Garnish: marshmallows and orange zest

Put chocolates and milk in a pot and melt chocolate. Add Grand Marnier. Let cool to desired serving temperature. Garnish with marshmallows and orange zest.



Pear-Mint Caipirinha

 2 oz Cachaça rum, 11/2 oz pear nectar, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 5 mint leaves, Soda water to fill

Muddle mint leaves with a touch of simple syrup. Add ice. Pour in Cachaça, pear nectar, simple syrup, and soda water. Toss once and garnish with a slice of pear and a mint sprig.



At Twist in Hyde Park, Bar Manager David Garrett keeps busy working on variations of the classics. He also offers up his own take on German “Glühwein” (“glow wine”), widely known as mulled wine. “Traditionally, German mulled wines contain a lot of alcohol, probably to keep people warm in the winter,” he says. “Our version has less alcohol and adds different spices for a nice blend of flavors. I’ve been tweaking this for three years.”


And yes, we realize that the Pear-Mint Caipirinha is not served warm, but Garrett couldn’t resist including it. “We rely on fresh ingredients at the bar. Pears are in season during the fall, so winter is a good time to keep pear nectar and pear juice. And sometimes, when people are sitting around a fire, they don’t always want something hot, especially if they’ve just come in from skiing or shoveling. Then, they want something refreshing,” he says about his wildly popular concoction.


And his twist on hot cocoa? “That’s a nice warm after-dinner — instead of dessert — drink. But unfortunately I can’t give you the recipe for the orange pepper marshmallows. They’re awesome, but they’re a secret.” We’ll just have to stop by to check them out. u

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