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The most wonderful time of the year is also the most wonderful time for cocktail experts to embrace their creativity and skill in developing seasonal cocktails. Following weeks of developing cocktail-related discussions, Nightclub & Bar Media Group’s expert staff and industry-renowned U.S. mixologists share their insights on perfect winter weather cocktails leading up to of the 2014 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas March 24-26, 2014.
In developing the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show’s Bar Management & Bartending Track, the experts resoundingly agreed crafting a crowd-pleasing and boundary-pushing cocktail is about highlighting quality ingredients and understanding the customers’ overall taste profiles. Whether embracing the art of classic cocktails or putting their own twist on a new recipe, the crisp winter months see bartenders embracing dark, rich and robust flavors combined with dark liquors in cocktail bars across the country. According to Sean Kenyon, head bartender at Williams & Graham in Denver, the perfect cold weather cocktail should be warming and spiced with baking spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Smoky flavors from Scotch or mezcal can also provide a nice option in addition to egg drinks such as nogs and flips.
“Bars across the country, including Dead Rabbit and PDT in New York City, Park 75 Lounge in Atlanta, Manifesto in Kansas City, Clyde Common in Portland and Elixir in San Francisco, are successfully highlighting the best flavors of the chilly winter months with their cocktail menus,” said Jon Taffer, president of Nightclub & Bar Media Group and host and executive producer of Spike TV's "Bar Rescue." “Bartenders are showing off their skills and cocktail knowledge more than ever before, and the local bar customer is greatly benefiting from the boom in creativity.”
With the foundation for the perfect winter cocktail in mind, Nightclub & Bar asked a few of the country’s best bartenders for their go-to winter libations. Kenyon’s Spiced Apple Flip offers the type of creative recipe commonly found at Williams & Graham, which was named Nightclub & Bar’s 2013 Cocktail Bar of the Year. The cocktail includes Daron Calvados, ginger liqueur, amarao nonino, turbinado, sugar syrup, one whole egg and nutmeg. Nightclub & Bar’s 2013 Bartender of the Year, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, offers an escape from a cold winter day with his Brandy Old Fashioned, prepared with a sugar cube, Angostura bitters, orange wedge, an Amarena cherry and brandy. Nightclub & Bar’s October 2013 Bartender of the Month, Beau Williams, inspires the warm holiday feelings for his guests with Beau’s Hot Spice Cider. This whiskey-based cocktail is served with apple cider, demerara sugar syrup, minced ginger, vanilla bean, cloves, all spice and two cinnamon sticks and best enjoyed when served in a small coffee mug.
“I love visiting some of my favorite bars to see what they have up their sleeve that's seasonal. Coast to coast we have some amazing bars that really embrace the best of what a seasonal cocktail menu can offer in much the same way a great wine can – invoking a feeling of time and place,” said Beau Williams, the Kansas City-based general manager and bartender at Manifesto and co-owner of Hawthorne & Julep. “Just snooping around on the internet can be a great source of inspiration; it’s amazing what we have at our disposal today. I can glean some ideas off a buddy halfway across the country with Facebook and Twitter or see what a bar in London has on the menu this time of the year. It’s pretty amazing, really.”
Whether looking for the perfect cocktail on a cold winter night or the best year-round ingredients to accompany a menu, cocktail professionals and enthusiasts will find a wealth of knowledge at the 2014 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show where topics of discussion include Farmer’s Market Mixology, The Wonders of Whiskey, The Best of Both Worlds: Beer Cocktails, Rethinking Mixology, and Rock the Cocktail in the Glass. Those interested in attending the 2014 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show can register directly through www.ncbshow.com and save up to 30% by January 31, 2014. Press are encouraged to attend and can apply for credentials through the press information page from now until the deadline on March 14, 2014.
Brandy Old Fashioned
1 sugar cube or 1 tsp. 2:1 simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 orange wedge
1 cherry, preferably Amarena or Maraska
2 oz. brandy or Cognac
In a chilled old fashioned glass, muddle the sugar, bitters, orange wedge and cherry into a thick paste, careful not to work the orange peel. Add brandy or Cognac, stir, and fill glass with crushed ice and serve.
Beau's Hot Spice Cider
4 cups apple cider
8 oz. demerara sugar syrup (1 part sugar in the raw, 1 part water)
15-20 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
8 oz. Aged Rum or Whiskey
2 cinnamon sticks
3 oz. peeled, minced ginger
1/2 split vanilla bean
5 whole cloves
5 whole allspice
Place contents in a crock pot and put on high heat. Allow to stew while covered for a couple of hours. Serve in a small coffee mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick and clove-studded lemon wheel.
Spiced Apple Flip
1.5 oz. Daron Calvados
.5 oz ginger liqueur
5 oz. amarao nonino
.5 oz. turbinado
sugar syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
one whole egg
In a mixing tin, add all ingredients with the egg. Shake without ice to emulsify. Add all other ingredients, shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Grate nutmeg over top.
For additional seasonal cocktail recipes and beverage program strategies for the winter months visit the Nightclub & Bar Media Group website for articles, including Warm up with Brandy and Cognac, Brewing Up Tasty Cocktails with Coffee, and Reinvigorating Winter Warmers.