Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pour one out for the holidays

Seasonal libations come in many forms

Express Staff Writer

Revelers enjoy specialty cocktails at the Cornerstone Bar and Grill in Ketchum last week. The Cornerstone and other valley establishments offer seasonal holiday cocktails sure to make spirits bright. Photo by Roland Lane

It’s the holiday season, which means that for some restaurants, it’s time to put aside the piña colada mixes and fun, fruity drinks in favor of something richer, smoother and a little more winter-appropriate.

Galena Lodge, a recreation hub and restaurant 24 miles north of Ketchum, has developed a number of warming alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages designed to cater to the skiers and snowshoers who visit throughout the season. 

Katie Welsch, bartender and server at Galena Lodge, said that owners Don Shepler and Erin Zell have tried to feature warm holiday cocktails since she arrived three years ago.

“It’s so nice to come in from skiing or snowshoeing and have a hot chocolate and schnapps,” she said.

Galena Lodge is generally only open in the mornings and afternoons. The lodge offers hot cocoa and hot buttered rum all winter, as well as a house-mixed hot spiced wine.

“It’s a cinnamony red Merlot,” Welsch said, with house mix of spices heated and served with a cinnamon stick.

Cameron Leady, general manager of the Sawtooth Club in Ketchum, said his restaurant also offers a number of popular winter cocktails. The effort to come up with new and creative winter drinks is worth it, he said, for the guests who venture up to town in winter.

“We don’t like to make them year round.” he said. “But it gives guests another opportunity, something they don’t get to try all the time.”

Leady said his favorite of the winter cocktails is a Baldy Bomber, made with brandy, peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate.

“It just reminds me of being a kid,” he said. “You can’t beat peppermint and hot chocolate.”

Galena Lodge offers a similar drink called a Ski Lift, which eliminates the brandy but still retains the schnapps and cocoa.

Coffee-based drinks also appear to be popular for the holiday season. Leady said one of the favorite cocktails at the Sawtooth Club is a Nutty Irishman, a riff on Irish coffee that combines coffee, Bailey’s Irish cream and Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur.

“As soon as people start seeing the cocktails coming out, they start getting them,” he said. “Once the first person at a table has one, everyone wants one.”

Welsch said Galena Lodge has two coffee-based drinks, one a Kahlua latte for those who want a caffeinated kick. The other, she said, is a non-alcoholic drink most popular with the locals.

“A lot of locals ask for what we call a Truck Stop Mocha,” she said, which is hot cocoa with coffee. “It’s so simple, but it’s perfect.”

The lodge also serves hot apple cider for those who don’t wish to imbibe, and pumpkin eggnog for those who want a cold, but still festive, drink.

Seasonal drinks can also be found at the Cornerstone Bar and Grill in Ketchum and at the Duchin Room at the Sun Valley Lodge. The Duchin Room offers hot-buttered rum and a cocktail known as Hot Apple Pie, which includes cider and citrus liqueur.

Wherever you dine, ask your server about holiday specials.

Kate Wutz:




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