Winter Warmers

I have never been a fan of coffee-based drinks. Being buzzed and caffeinated at the same time I find a little overwhelming. A little hot rum, maybe with a splash of apple cider, swizzled with a cinnamon stick, does the trick for me in cold weather. But there are alternatives. One of my favorites is the well-nigh forgotten classic, the Tom and Jerry. It was first served me on a none-too-wintry night by the man who taught me to love cocktails: the former master mixologist for the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Tony Abou-Ganim. His recipe came via his Aunt Helen, pushing 90 but still making it at her own bar in Michigan, where the drink's thick, eggy-and-spice-infused texture makes perfect sense. The Tom and Jerry was invented by Jerry Thomas back in the 1860s. Reputed to be our country's first celebrity bartender, he refused to serve it at his bar until the first snowfall. Classically, it's made with rum (although heretics also make it with bourbon, rye, or brandy), and it's so labor-intensive it's not a prime candidate for revival in commercial bars, but you might give it a try at home. Epicurious.com has a decent recipe. What you can get in Seattle during the cooler months is a range of cognac- and coffee-based drinks, with the odd tiki potion to provide illusions of the beach. At Sambar in Ballard, bartender Jeffrey Brown makes an Irish Sambar ($7) with Salignac cognac, espresso, and Saint Brendan's Irish Cream Liqueur. "It comes in a great big snifter, so you can put your hands on it and warm them up," he explains. While Brown says whiskey is the preferred drink in winter, Sambar's Fleur de Sang (which means flower of blood) for $10 is also popular. It is made with Arandas tequila, blood orange juice, simple syrup, and a prickly pear cactus purée. Brown notes that the drink may be popular in winter as cactus is one of the rare fresh cocktail ingredients that's readily available all year long. Amy German, bartender at Belltown's Viceroy, agrees that whiskey is her top winter quaff: She serves the St. James ($8), made with Jameson Irish whiskey, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier. Spanish coffee (a mix of Kahlúa, Tía Maria, and Bacardi 151 rum) is served with a sugar-glazed rim and topped with whipped cream ($7). Over at Polynesian-flavored Palisade on the Magnolia waterfront, bar manager David Hood tries "to stay a little tropical even through the winter." He serves a raspberry mojito ($7.50) made with Cruzan rum. The smoothie-textured Sunset Colada ($7.95), made with Kahlúa, pineapple juice, Cruzan rum, and yogurt, is also popular. A nice reminder of summer in the grips of a Seattle winter. lzimmerman@seattleweekly.com

 
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