It happens every year. First, the days get shorter. Then, the blistering chill settles into the region. Finally, snow falls in a white cover on the Valley, first as a light dusting and later a heavy blanket, one that refuses to budge without the strongest of shovels and the hardiest of plows.
To cope with the inevitable three or so months that define the Hudson Valley frost fest, we’re reaching for the coziest cuppas that we can find. Think hot chocolate that’s homemade and paired with a twin cup of whipped cream, full-bodied coffee that tastes just like a toasty graham cracker, and a spicy latte that evokes cinnamon rolls and nights by the fire. Try one — or all — of them next time you need liquid warmth as you trek to work or venture out on a local day trip.
Warwick’s community café does breakfast, lunch, dessert, crazy shakes, and pretty much anything else you could want from a casual eatery in town. Come winter, the true gem here isn’t any over-the-top food fare, though. Instead, it can be found in a humble cup of graham cracker coffee. The fresh-ground, flavored brew blends warm spice with rich coffee beans to create an intoxicating coffee that tastes just like everyone’s favorite crumbly pie crust.
1 Oakland Ave, Warwick
If you love the warmth of a pumpkin spice latte but wish it wasn’t so, well, pumpkin-y, give the Café Miel at Crafted Kup a go. The cozy drink has an enjoyable spice to it that falls more in the family of cinnamon roll than pumpkin pie. As for sweetness, it walks the line between cloyingly sweet and full-on espresso to give you the caffeine kick you crave without the sugar crash an hour later. If comfort in a cup exists, this is it.
44 Raymond Ave, Poughkeepsie
Poughkeepsie Galleria, Poughkeepsie
Old-fashioned bourbon / Photo courtesy of A&P Bar
When warm mugs of sugar and caffeine won’t cut it, look to Woodstock’s coolest cocktail bar for a boozy beverage that could warm even Scrooge’s spirit. The seasonal sipper is the result of mixological alchemy, the kind that happens when you combine house-made old-fashioned bitters with Angostura bitters and bourbon. Spiced with orange peel and sweetened with a demerara sugar cube and a bourbon cherry, it finishes with a touch of hickory wood smoke.
83 Mill Hill Rd, Woodstock
Maybe you’ve had Irish coffee before. Maybe it’s been pretty good. What it has not been, however, is the decadent, delightful confection served at the Stagecoach Inn. In its inimitable creation, the Goshen eatery melds the rich flavors of coffee and Jameson together, then tops it with velvety whipped cream that’s so divine it will make you forget about the dessert menu.
268 Main St, Goshen
Hudson is stunning in winter, so it makes sense that the town boasts a drink to suit. Enter Verdigris. Throughout the year, the upstate teashop is a paradise for tea, pastries, coffee, and even smoothies. In winter, however, the only logical thing to order is one of the decadent concoctions on the chocolate bar menu. While you can’t go wrong with the spicy Mexican hot chocolate or the classic Hudson hot chocolate, you’ll enter chocolate nirvana with The Angelina. The dreamy beverage involves melty dark chocolate ganache served with a hearty side of whipped cream. Only serious chocolate lovers need apply.
135 Warren St, Hudson
Easily one of Harney’s most popular teas, the fortifying brew is readily available at supermarkets and coffee shops throughout the Hudson Valley (and beyond). Yet there’s something special about drinking it in the Millerton store amid the rows and rows of teas and trinkets. If you’ve never sampled the heady blend before, expect a cinnamon-packed punch on your first sip. From there, underlying notes of orange peel and clove shine through to the very last drop. The brew is surprisingly sweet for being 100-percent sugar-free.
13 Main St, Millerton