A few weeks back, the FlagLive staff wrote a cover story called “Wintry soundscapes: Six albums for your seasonal depression.” In it we claimed, inaccurately and wholly unironically, that winter was coming. Well, it wasn’t and it didn’t. Temperatures Thanksgiving weekend reached an average of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Even now we’re looking at a modest 50-degree Christmas. So, we got that wrong, and we apologize.
Today marks the first day of winter. In celebration, the FlagLive staff again has taken to the streets, this time in search of perfect winter libations to mark the occasion. Here are a few you should check out.
VIEUX CARRÉ | ANNEX COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Vieux Carré, or the French Quarter, is a jewel of Old New Orleans. Invented sometime in the 1930s by bartender Walter Bergeron, the Vieux Carré at Annex Cocktail Lounge, which combines Sazerac rye whiskey, Pierre Ferrand cognac and Ranson sweet vermouth, hits you like a gust of winter wind. Aged for six weeks in an American oak barrel, the bright Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters and the sharp Bénédictine liqueur is rounded out by hints of vanilla and caramel, sweet and spicy like a gingerbread cookie. The Vieux Carré is stirred in ice for about a minute and then drained into a short, round glass, where a ball of ice, about the size of a modest fist, with an orange and yellow marigold frozen in its center, is added. After carving a small slice of lemon rind, softly squeezing its juice into the drink and curling it into a ribbon, the rind is circled along the rim of the glass and added to the drink. It is sharp, sweet and sneaky. A few drinks in and you’ll forget about all those gifts you’ve still yet to buy. (928) 223-8400. 50 S. San Francisco St.
SWISS MISS | RENDEZVOUS
Hot chocolate is a must every winter, and the Rendezvous at Hotel Monte Vista knows that. Which is why it’s created the Swiss Miss. The drink is made with an espresso-infused hot cocoa and Chartreuse, a naturally green liqueur made from Carthusian Monks and aged with 130 herbs, flowers and plants. Then a swirled mountain of whipped cream is added and the drink is ready. The Chartreuse makes it a floral drink, like drinking in the pine trees and mistletoes. The whipped cream floats like snow, and as it slowly melts into the drink, it creates a drink that’s soft but potent. Rendezvous also offers the Winter Flip, with café ole, whipped cream, whiskey, aged rum, house-made horchata and allspice dram. (928) 779-6971. 100 N. San Francisco St.
WASSAIL | DARK SKY BREWING COMPANY
While winter time typically calls for stouts, the Wassail winter ale at the dog-friendly Dark Sky Brewing Company is a nice break from holiday tradition. The Wassail is brewed with hints of cranberry, orange and cinnamon, culminating in a beer that is crisp and light. The deep mahogany gives the appearance of a strong ale, but Wassail drinks almost like a cider that’s more potent than it is sweet. Though, if you can’t break tradition, Dark Sky Brewing Company does offer the Wide Awake, an imperial blonde stout brewed with vanilla, oats and coffee, as well as other home-brewed concoctions such as the Forestero chocolate IPA, the Apophis spiced ale and the Snooze Button coffee pale ale. (928) 235-4525. 117 N. Beaver St.
TCHAIKOVSKY | FLAGSTAFF COFFEE COMPANY
Yes, the Russian Romantic-era composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is the inspiration behind Flagstaff Coffee Company’s twist on chai tea. And, like the composer, the Tchaikovsky is both delicate and harsh. While the David Rio chai tea, the whiskey and the cinnamon bite at the tongue, the milk (available in whole, almond or soy) and the nutmeg soften the drink out. Not in the mood for the Tchaikovsky? Flagstaff Coffee Company has other coffee-and-alcohol-based drinks including Apple Cider with Tuaca, cider, cinnamon and whiskey or rum. Or you could always go for the classic Irish Coffee with whiskey, coffee, cream and nutmeg. (928) 773-1442. 16 Historic Rte. 66.
SWEET PATOOTIE V2.0 | ROOT PUBLIC HOUSE
Sweet potato is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘cocktails,’ but Root Public House on San Francisco St. has its own Sweet Patootie V2.0. It has a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey, a splash of lemon juice, some Amaro Montenegro and a sweet potato syrup that’s made in-house. The liquids clamor together with ice in a metal shaker, but what comes out is a gentle orange drink. A fall drink, admittedly, but the drink captures the last flares of a warm day setting into a cold night. It is surprisingly more fruity than root-y, more for a warm winter day, which, if weather patterns persist, we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of those. This being Root’s second year with the cocktail, the V2.0 comes from the restaurant’s second go at their peculiar drink. (928) 774-1402. 101 S. San Francisco St.