“I’ve always felt a tasting room is all about community,” says Spotted Bear Spirits owner Lauren Oscilowski. “I feel that is traditionally how alcohol was received— around a campfire sharing whiskey and stories or making cocktails in your home with friends.”
Tipping back the glass is just one more way to bring together friends and family with holiday flavors — no matter what’s in the glass.
Oscilowski shares a few favorites from Spotted Bear’s tasting room menu that can be replicated at home to spice up your feast’s liquid offerings.
• Hot chocolate
• 1.5 ounces Mountain Mint Peppermint Schnapps
• Whipped cream
• Chocolate bar or syrup
This winter warmer is a simple boozy take on traditional hot chocolate. Serve for dessert or to warm up after a wintry walk around the block after eating.
Prepare your favorite form of hot chocolate — Oscilowski recommends using milk rather than water if using a powder mix — then add in the peppermint schnapps to give the cup an extra holiday aroma. Top with a hearty amount of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings or a drizzle of syrup or both!
• 1.5 ounces vodka
• 1 ounce orange juice
• 1 ounce cinnamon simple syrup
• 1 egg white
• cinnamon for garnish
Spotted Bear tasting room manager Brant Giovannetti knows that cocktails with egg whites can be intimidating for the home bartender, but says it’s actually a simple and rewarding way to add depth to a cocktail.
“Egg whites are magic, they give that velvety feel to the foam,” Giovannetti said.
You can get fancy with a dry shake or a reverse dry shake, but according to Giovannetti, the simplest way to achieve the perfect creamy head to the cocktail is to put all the ingredients into a shaker tin along with 2-3 ice cubes depending on their size and shake vigorously until the ice cubes are silent.
To make a cinnamon simple syrup at home, take 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and 2 cinnamon sticks and bring to a simmer (do not boil!) until the sugar is dissolved, about 10-15 minutes. Let the syrup steep with the cinnamon sticks for a few hours or overnight.
• Cheermeister Jun Tea from Vibrant Roots
• Optional gin or vodka
Jun is the sister elixir of kombucha — the culture lives on green tea and raw honey rather than black tea and sugar, giving it a more delicate, less pungent flavor profile.
Vibrant Roots in Whitefish currently has 22 flavors of jun, but the go-to for the holidays is the Cheermeister, a festive combination of cranberry, apple cardamom, clove and vanilla. Serve with a few fresh cranberries, a cinnamon stick and an orange peel for a garnish and everyone young and old can sip on this festive drink.
While not every drink needs spirits, you’re more than welcome to add some if you desire. Oscilowski recommends adding a favorite neutral vodka to keep the vibrant flavors intact, or some gin to increase the botanical aromatics.
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