Wintertime in Reno Tahoe brings with it a flurry of outdoor activities and a whole lot of wanting to cozy up on the couch. Whether you’ve spent the day bundled up binge-watching the latest sensation, or you hit the slopes the perfect ending is warming up from the inside out, with a seasonal and soothing winter cocktail. Bonus points if it’s hot. To help keep your spirits warm this season, we’ve put together this lineup of Reno Tahoe’s “hottest” winter beverages, many of which can be ordered online for takeout and delivery!
Von Bismarck’s food and drink menu takes influence from Eastern Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia, where hearty and heartwarming cuisine is essential to surviving the cold, harsh winters. Von Bismarck has two hot cocktails that most assuredly could get you through at least one night on the frigid Russian tundra.
The Drago (caraway vodka, Russian Caravan tea, beet, lemon, and cream) is deep and dark, remixing the complex comforting flavors of borscht into a cocktail while the Goldjunge (vodka, lemon verbena, golden beet, ginger, honey, and lemon) with its spicy and herbaceous character, is the perfect counterpoint. Goldjunge was originally created a cold cocktail reminiscent of a German springtime classic. The staff was playing around behind the bar one day and made it hot. It worked, so it stayed.
It’s the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world, with evidence of it on almost every continent. It was the drink of choice for medieval fiestas, and even warriors warm on the fields of battle. Yep. We’re talking about mead, and in Reno’s Brewery District, Black Rabbit Mead Company is keeping this age-old tradition alive.
They’ve perfected the art of making a crisp, dry base with the right hint of honey sweetness, and upon that they’ve layered on some impressive flavors through some very cool collaborations. Working with their neighbors at Lead Dog Brewing, they’ve created a local legend in the PBJ, a peanut butter stout-ish raspberry mead that offers all the comfort of a PB+J sandwich without the crust. Pigeon Head Brewery helped to create the Black Horn, which brings the dark, roasted, malty flavors of a black lager together with a spiced mead, and in a collab with 1864 Tavern they created a Moscow Mule inspired mead called the Winter Of 1864. You can find several of their products for sale in the Black Rabbit Mead Company online store, but not the limited releases. They will bottle them to order, so call ahead for curbside pickup.
Sweater Weather is Paul Amundson’s take on the toddy, served at The Jesse, a boutique hotel and bar at the beginning of Reno’s Brewery District. Made with apple brandy, pear liqueur, lemon, honey and Cannella Cinnamon Cordial from neighboring Ferino Distillery, this recipe brings together the sweetness of winter fruit and honey and the warm spice of cinnamon, all balanced by the tart acidity of lemon.
True to its name, the cocktail evokes the cozy feelings of early winter, when you’re excited to throw on that sweater and get outside to enjoy the cooler weather and shorter days.
Pssst. We’re going to let you in on the best kept secret in the Heavenly Village. By day, Social House is a delicious deli serving up superb sandwiches, filling bellies, and fueling mountain adventures for locals and visitors alike. Most walk right past the “walk-in cooler” built into the middle of the restaurant without giving it a second thought. If they did, they’d realize that putting in the right password on the glowing blue keypad would reveal a prohibition era cocktail oasis known as the Community Speakeasy.
With temps that drop below freezing, you know they’ve got their hot cocktail game on point. Get toasty with the Nutty Professor, made with Skrewball Peanut Butter whiskey and hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips, or lift your spirits while warming your soul sipping their Chai on the Rye, a take on a classic toddy made with Woodford rye, honey, lemon, and Chai tea garnished with lemon and a cinnamon stick. This secret bar is the perfect place to warm up after a day of skiing at Heavenly or adventuring around Lake Tahoe.
Now you don’t need any excuses to ignore friends in favor of getting cozy on the couch with a cup of hot buttered rum. It’s deep, spicy, rich, creamy and oh so satisfying. Pure cocktail comfort food, and in Reno, Rum Sugar Lime is the place to get it. Rum Sugar Lime’s Hot Buttered Rum starts with their house made batter, which co-owner Enzo DeVincenzi handcrafts in small batches, combining brown sugar, Cassia cinnamon chips, allspice, nutmeg, star anise, clove, and of course, butter.
RSL’s hot buttered rum batter is available in 12oz jars at www.rsltogo.com, and they also offer it in a kit complete with 12oz of their rum blend, nutmeg, and cinnamon for garnish. Both make great gifts.
Now that outdoor dining in the winter is a recommended activity, you may as well do everything you can to stay warm while staying safe supporting your favorite local restaurants. Nothing heats up your night at a bar like a hot toddy. Funny thing about toddys, though we commonly think about them as a combination of bourbon, honey, hot water, and lemon, they really can be made from any combination of spirit, sweetener, warm base, and citrus.
Trevor Leppek, owner of Pignic Pub and Patio, puts a slightly Tiki twist on the classic toddy their Wayfarer Toddy, made from Kirk and Sweeney 12 year Dominican rum, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Herbsaint, honey-ginger syrup, lemon juice, and garnished with a clove studded lemon wheel. This cocktail’s hot temp, warm spice notes, and molasses honey sweetness will have you forgetting you’re freezing in no time so you can enjoy your socially distant fun.