Hot drinks for winter's coldest days

  • Article by: MICHAEL RIETMULDER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 2, 2014 - 2:35 PM

Kill the chill with these hot-drink concoctions from Twin Cities restaurants and bars.

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MERLINS REST: A pint of Guinness and a shot of Balvenie 12-year-old Scotch

Photo: BRE McGEE • Special to the Star Tribune,

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It takes a special breed to handle a Minnesota winter. Between our Nordic blood and Midwestern grit, we don’t bat a frozen eyelash when the thermometer dips to miserable lows. Hell, we’ll probably go ice fishing. For fun.

Minnesotans have been fortified by years of tundra-prairie life, making the mid-30s feel like T-shirt weather. But sometimes we need some amenities to deal with the constant nip in the air, and a good hot drink is up there with remote car starters and pocket-size heat packs.

Fight off the Minnesota cold with these sippables.

Mulled cider from Saffron

If to-go cups were a thing, this Warehouse District restaurant and cocktail spot could make a fortune slinging its mulled cider to jacketless clubgoers destined to freeze while standing in line.

The caraway-heavy blend, also steeped with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, is served as is, or with a spirit of your choice. Mixed with rye whiskey, the various spicy flavors fire in unison — an invigorating fusillade that jump-starts the palate like a frozen car battery.

For a more soothing, easy chair of a tipple, try it with cognac. The French brandy complements its sweeter apple flavors, making for a lip-smackable core-warmer.

123 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-746-5533

Hot chocolate from Bradstreet

Proving Swiss Miss is mere child’s play, this week Bradstreet Craftshouse debuts an adult hot-chocolate program that redefines decadence. Each rum-spiked drink is made to order, with guests picking between dark, milk or white Callebaut chocolates and four types of booze-infused creams.

White chocolate and a Becherovka (a slightly cinnamon-y herbal liqueur) cream is an unabashedly extravagant combo — the lynx fur coat of cocktails — pure rich, silky lavishness. A milk chocolate/Fernet Branca-cream pairing might be more traditional, but one sip of this deeply cocoa-y dessert cocktail and you will forgot about those thin, marshmallow-topped drinks of your youth.

601 1st Av. N., Mpls., 612-312-1821

Under the Kilt from Icehouse

Bradstreet isn’t the only cocktail bar rolling out new hot drinks this week. Icehouse just added a few belly-heaters, including a delicately maximalist take on the classic hot toddy.

Despite being in the brandy-loving Midwest, the Eat Street bar looks to Scotland for this version of the cold-season favorite, calling for Laphroaig 10-year and a faintly present Hendrick’s Gin. The peaty Scotch permeates the drink, synergistically kissed with minty Fernet Branca and ginger syrup, alongside honey syrup and Fee Brothers’ Old Fashion bitters. A hot water bath melts the competing flavors into an ameliorative winter elixir.

2528 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-276-6523

Beer/shot from Merlins Rest

The time-tested beer-and-a-shot combination gets even better in the colder months, but there’s no reason to settle for swill. Instead, take shelter from winter’s bite at whiskey emporium Merlins Rest.

  • related content

  • BRADSTREET: Hot milk chocolate, left, and white chocolate

  • SAFFRON: Mulled cider

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