Heat Seekers

Whether creamy, spice-infused or freshly brewed, these drinks are the perfect compliment to the holiday season.

Frozen margaritas, chilled shots of ciroc and ice-cold beers are welcome in Hawai’i year-round thanks to the gorgeous (often hot) weather we experience no matter the season. And while we don’t experience radical temperature changes that make us shake in our slippers, it’s sometimes nice to relax with a warm drink that soothes your body and your soul.

Signature drinks are always labeled as such for a reason, and Morton’s at Ala Moana Center (mortons.com) has an amazing after-dinner drink that makes you feel cozy all the way down to your toes.

“It’s actually a dessert in itself,” says Morton’s general manager Zyron Schoniwitz of the establishment’s Morton’s Coffee. The house drink has been a staple at Mortons for many years, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Crème de coco proves to be the highlight of this lush beverage and gives it a luxurious finish, while amaretto and Baileys add depth and personality.

“The flavors of the liqueur and the coffee make for a wonderful drink,” Schoniwitz explains.

Topping off the rich concoction is a cinnamon sugar rim and a decadent display of whipped cream, which makes Morton’s Coffee perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

“It goes great with chocolate desserts, crème brûlée or carrot cake, because the amaretto adds a little nuttiness in there,” Schoniwitz adds.

Nestled within the walls of Honolulu Design Center sits Stage Restaurant (stagerestauranthawaii.com), a chic location for all those who fancy good food, wonderful drinks and impeccable décor.

Owner Thomas Sorensen brings a little taste of Denmark, where he was born and raised, to Hawai’i each December for his annual Christmas party. Featured at the party are wonderful Danish dishes, as well as glögg, a traditional mulled wine that’s perfect for the holidays.


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Available seasonally at Stage, Danish drink glögg has hints of cinnamon, clove and orange zest. The real kick comes from Akvavit—a Danish vodka that has a cumin-like flavor.

“The aroma takes me back to my home country Denmark at Christmas, just like being back home,” Sorensen says.

It isn’t hard to see why Sorensen’s Christmas party sells out in a matter of days. Great company, mixed with amazing food and delicious homemade glögg, is hard to beat.

His homemade glögg has hints of cinnamon, clove and orange zest, and the real kick comes from Akvavit—a Danish vodka that has a cumin-like taste.

“When I hold the warm glass of glögg in your hands, I know for sure Christmas is just around the corner,” he adds. “[It’s] a true magical Christmas treat.”

Over at Halekulani’s Lewers Lounge and Orchids (halekulani.com), coffee cocktails also reign supreme in the hot-drinks department. French-pressed Kona coffee is a great addition to each of the coffee drinks and exudes a rich flavor that showcases the boldness of the beans.

“It sits in before we press it down for about five minutes,” explains assistant restaurant manager Jon Chadwick. “It brings out the oils a lot better than just a brew.”

Jamaican Coffee features a combination rum and Tia Maria, a Kahlua-type liquor that has a deeper, smoky flavor. Dark rum and sugar cane add an amazing level of flavor and complexity. “I think that makes it unique,” says Chadwick. “It’s a rustic, earthy flavor.”

Also on the menus is the Café Amore, which can best be described as an ambrosial mix of Cognac and amaretto. The pairing offers up a floral mix with hints of apricot and almond. While Hawai’i can be balmy, Chadwick notes that these specialty coffee cocktails are rarely served cold. “It’s a good dessert that people enjoy … it’s very metropolitan,” he adds.

Across the Pacific, San Francisco’s famous Irish Coffee was born on quiet autumn evening at The Buena Vista (thebuenavista.com), a café nestled on the corner of Hyde Street near Fisherman’s Wharf, in November 1952. Buena Vista’s then-owner Jack Koeppler challenged travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help him craft the coveted “Irish Coffee” served at Ireland’s Shannon Airport. The duo poured, mixed and sipped, but their concoction was “not quite right.” Frustrated, yet determined, Koeppler traveled to Ireland in search of its missing ingredient: Irish whiskey. Upon his return, the two continued experimenting in hopes of mastering the crème de la crème. They even consulted the aid of San Francisco’s mayor (who was also a dairy owner) to complete their mission. Alas, the mystery was solved: The cream needed to be aged 48 hours, and then frothed, to float on the surface, thus achieving its heavenly, cloud-like consistency. Soon, word of their drink and liquor pilgrimage spread, augmenting the Emerald Isle’s coffee clout. And today’s recipe is still the same delicious mixture.

Sip This!

While we encourage making a voyage to the Bay Area to sip the original, in the meantime, you can try this at home:

The Buena Vista Irish Coffee

Fill glass with very hot water to preheat. Then empty glass.

Pour hot coffee into heated glass until it is about three-quarters full. Drop in two cocktail sugar cubes.

Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

Add full jigger of Irish whiskey for proper taste and body.

Top with a collar of lightly whipped whipping cream by pouring cream gently over a spoon.

Enjoy beverage while piping hot!

Recipe courtesy The Buena Vista

Photo courtesy Jenny Bales, jennybalesphoto.com

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