It may be the most festive time of year, but expecting to get through the holidays on cheer alone is a challenge best left to our friends at the North Pole. The hot holiday cocktail can work wonders thawing out even the most disheartened Heat Miser. Behold the season's best warmers, and where to find them:
The iconic winter drink, and for good reason: Chocolate's shot of naturally occurring Phenylethylamine (PEA), the "love drug," is a panacea for the holiday blues. Prospect elevates the whole concept with Mexican Hot Chocolate ($11), a water-based combination of local TCHO 68-percent bittersweet, a custom molé paste, blanco tequila, and whipped cream. The molé spices are more warming than fiery, and the water base gives it a welcome lightness. If you prefer marshmallows in your cocoa, Slanted Door is making a rich, ganache-based hot chocolate ($11) with El Tesoro reposado topped with a Green Chartreuse marshmallow made by Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods.
Hot toddies may comfort colds, but we like them even when we aren't sick, kinda like baby aspirin. Rye Bar's Rock and Rye, complete with the allegedly curative herb horehound, soothes with citrus and a good measure of rye whiskey. The Burritt Room effects a Japanese twist, blending hot chrysanthemum tea, Yamazaki whisky, and Yellow Chartreuse for its Torii toddy. The East Bay gets in on the act at the Hotsy Totsy, with a brandy and rum flaming toddy that's both a show and a drink.
Hot buttered rum
This is back in a big way, and what better place to have one than at rum heaven Smuggler's Cove? A secret spiced rum batter mixed with demerara rum and hot water ($8) promises to put pep in your pegleg. Heaven's Dog offers a version made with a demerara/butter base seasoned with traditional Chinese five-spice, Jamaican rum, and a house-spiced organic cider ($10). If that doesn't warm you up, take two pork buns and call us in the morning.
If you've ever wondered what Christmas at Hogwarts tastes like, the crew over at 15 Romolo has Butter Beer ($10) on the menu for us Muggles: house-made pumpkin butter, Black Bottle Scotch, hot water, Port Brewing stout foam, and a cinnamon stick wand.
Finally, Elixir in the Mission has revived the Tom and Jerry ($10), a boozy and involved spiced hot drink from the 1850s. Elixir's features a house-made batter of whole eggs (usually separated, whipped, then combined again), sugar, nutmeg, Appleton Reserve Jamaican Rum, and Cognac Ferrand Ambre, stirred with hot water and served with a stirring spoon and a heaping side of cheer.