Don’t get me wrong, I am a major sucker for a good pumpkin beer (see previous pumpkin beer rant), and when that cold hits your nose nothing keeps you toasty like the warm blanket a glass of hooched up eggnog can provide; but when the holiday season comes a calling I get all romantic and classy like Clark Gable or Harrison Ford and I’m in need for a good classic cocktail. Nothing makes me feel more manly and ripped from the silver screen than bellying up to a dimly lit bar and ordering up “a drink of distinction”. With that mood dancing through my head instead of sugar plum fairies, here is my breakdown of my top 3 winter warmer classic cocktails.
3. Negroni- Let us travel into the labyrinth that is my mind to find out my path to my first Negroni. During the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college I developed the habit of falling asleep to a different Wes Anderson movie every night. Well, needless to say with limited options available, each character was etched permanently into my subconscious. Fast forward many years to a wedding and an open bar. I was feeling adventourous and what better way to explore liquors you’ve never had before than on someone else’s tab. Campari on ice it was. After the slap of bitterness wore off, I decided to search out what drinks could be made with Campari and there was the Negroni. It had that perfect combination of sounding Italian and slightly racist, but in an old timey grandpa had too many drinks sort of way. So, one Mother’s Day luncheon I decided to give it a go and I have been hooked ever since. Being a born and breed New Englander I’m used to a biting winter, well the Negroni is the perfect bitter cocktail to bite back. I may be biased because it was the first place I had a Negroni but I can not recommend the Negroni from the rustic Italian restaurant Il Casale in Belmont, MA (they also have a couple other locations). *As an added bonus one of the episodes of Top Chef Boston was filmed there (it’s an old firehouse).
2. Hot Toddy- With the seasonal cold front also comes the seasonal cold and the days of coughing, sniffling, sneezing, achy…..well you get the drift. Now, some people will go racing for their closest pharmacy to load up on cough drops and vapo rub, but I say why not race to you’re local water hole and get what will truly mend what ails you?…a nice steaming hot toddy. My personal favorite is a version done at Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick Brooklyn. There they step up their game with some of their house made switchel. What is switchel you may ask, well it is only the elixir of the gods…..ehhh drink of the bearded mountain folk in the Appalachian’s “Traditional Mountain Soda made with House-Made Apple Cider Vinegar aged in Bourbon Barrels with Fresh Ginger and Maple”. Trust me, if you have a cold the next morning there is something wrong with you…..and you should probably get some medicine or see a doctor.
1. Old Fashioned- It’s my favorite classic cocktail, period. No matter what season so just deal with it. Whiskey + some sugar + some bitters + lemon (or orange) rind spritz and rim + one big cube of ice = one very classy and happy Kevin. Oh, who are we kidding? I’m permanently classy, especially after 5 or 6 Old Fashioneds. The best Old Fashioned for my money is at one of my favorite bars: Drink, in the Fort Point neighborhood in Boston. Those vest clad maestros really know how to make those simple ingredients shine. *My standard request there, after polishing off my first drink of the night (always an Old Fashioned), how about a different take on an Old Fashioned, after the same request for 2 more drinks I’m sure they never get tired of me.