Tis’ the season to over-indulge, and nothing takes the edge off stressful holidays like seasonal beverages. Staples like mulled wine and eggnog get the job done, but here are five less-obvious choices found right here in town during the hustle and bustle of December.
1. Spenard Roadhouse, Bloody Mary.
Roadhouse is known for its creative and boozy cocktails mixed by entertaining and competent bartenders. At press time, available infused vodkas included cucumber, cilantro, cranberry, ghost chili, habanero, strawberry, ruby red grapefruit and lavender. What this means for patrons is unusual twists on brunch-hour staples like the classic bloody Mary or mimosa. And this makes Roadhouse a perfect pit stop en route to family gatherings or chaotic holiday shopping. For just enough spice, try a bloody Mary with half habanero vodka and half cucumber vodka.
2. Ginger, champagne cocktails. Why choose just one? I love swinging by Ginger for a fancy drink before a show at the Performing Arts Center, and I have something of a sentimental attachment to the champagne cocktails. In its early days, before Ginger expanded, got a liquor license, and opened up its bar area, the restaurant had a tiny bar in the corner that served simple beer and wine, but also those oh-so-cute Sofia Coppola champagnes in the irresistible pink cans. Today’s beverage offerings are broader, but still highlight champagne, with a charming roster of sudsy cocktails. Champagne is synonymous with holiday indulgence. There’s nothing like bubbles to make you feel festive.
3. Pioneer Bar, the traditional Irish Coffee. For years, my friends and I snickered over the fact that the words “Irish Coffee” are painted on Pio’s front window. Who orders Irish coffee at Pio? Turns out, a lot of people do. Don’t judge a drink by its well-used, second-hand mug: The bartenders at Pio start by blending piping hot coffee with sweet sugar, add a generous pour of stiff whiskey, then top it with heavy whipping cream that they hand-whip on the spot. Skip the straw and let the cream blend in while you sip. This beverage will warm you up in more ways than one.
4. Sullivan’s Steakhouse, The Knockout. This is Sullivan’s signature martini, and a personal favorite. They artfully blend Svedka Clementine Vodka, brightly infused with Fresh Hawaiian Gold Pineapples. It’s like a sip of the islands in December and a perfect way to slip some sunshine into a dark Alaska winter day. Added bonus: Sullivan’s is literally within the footprint of The Mall at 5th Avenue, making it a convenient treat after braving holiday crowds.
5. Crush Wine Bistro & Cellar, wine flight. Speaking of convenience, Crush occupies prime real estate on the Sixth Avenue side of the downtown mall. With more than 40 wines by the glass, the best way to sample is to order a flight – three smaller pours, equal to about 1.5 glasses of wine, usually just $12. The wine professionals at Crush will talk you through the various varietals with smooth competence. Afterward, venture upstairs to Crush’s cozy wine shop and holiday shop for the vino-lover in your life.
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January 2015 – Alaska Coast Magazine