In addition to flickering candles, a crackling fire and a warm blanket, a hot drink is a key constituent in the ambient armor we don every year to ward off a spirit-sucking Rocky Mountain winter.
When the weather outside feels frightful, we take comfort in snuggling up indoors with a hot cocktail, a mug of java or a cup of tea to thaw out the soul. There are classics like mulled wines and ciders, toddies of all kinds, as well as less orthodox varietals and novelties.
The Flathead Beacon sought out four signature hot drinks from throughout the valley and compiled them in this flavorful breakdown.
Whether you’re seeking an aperitif, a digestif, or just something decadently delicious, this list of local libations will stoke your spirits.
The Grand Manner
Tupelo Grille, Whitefish
Meagan Schmoll, the crafty mixologist at Tupelo Grille in downtown Whitefish, constructs this flavorful liqueur cocktail with Grand Marnier, Taylor Fladgate’s Ruby Port and Spotted Bear Coffee Liqueur, as well as a dash of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters.
She builds the drink in a pre-heated mug, tops it with hot water and garnishes with an expressed orange twist, which is guaranteed to generate some alchemic warmth.
Available on Tupelo’s winter cocktail menu, Schmoll says the Grand Manner was inspired by the meal-ending ritual of rinsing the final frothy notes of an espresso with the last sip of red wine, consuming the concoction as a digestif.
Spotted Bear Spirits, Whitefish
Since opening its doors last winter, Spotted Bear Spirits in downtown Whitefish has been distilling good cheer with its bottled batches of house-made libations while slinging a suite of creative craft cocktails using syrups and infusions.
It’s no surprise, then, that the stable of bartenders settled on something special with the Powder Day, a hot seasonal drink built with peppermint tea, organic cacao powder, the distillery’s signature Confluence Vodka, a pinch of sugar, and whipped cream from Kalispell Kreamery.
Garnished with a mint leaf and grated organic milk chocolate, the Powder Day looks as good as it tastes.
“We wanted to create a more natural and raw rendition of the classic aprés ski beverage, The Alpine,” said distillery owner Lauren Oscilowski.
Azul Coffee Bar at Uptown Hearth, Columbia Falls
With barista Matthew Bussard behind the counter at Azul Coffee Bar, inside Uptown Hearth bakery in Columbia Falls, coffee-brewing science meets milk-steaming wizardry to produce the classic cappuccino.
A true coffee artisan, Bussard has parked his coffee cart inside the Columbia Falls bakery created by Terri Feury, where his latte art and tasty beverages have been on prominent display every Friday.
By delicately pouring the microfoam produced by his milk-steaming technique into crema of deftly pulled espresso shots, Bussard tops his drinks with tulips and rosettas.
Look for Uptown Hearth and Azul Coffee Bar to expand hours and offerings in May. Currently, Uptown Hearth is open Wednesday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Azul Coffee Bar operating on Fridays.
Frozen Hot Chocolate
Sweet Peaks, Kalispell
Sweet Peaks Ice Cream bustles in the summer, when cool treats are an effective way to beat the heat, but their cold currency is legitimate in winter, too.
With the Frozen Hot Chocolate, which is made by serving hot chocolate with a scoop of homemade ice cream, Sweet Peaks has created the perfect winter warmer.
Try it with the Salted Caramel ice cream, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce, or ask about a fruity variation with the Huckleberry Heaven.
The Frozen Hot Chocolate is available at all Sweet Peaks locations.
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