Feeling in the Mood for Winter, a Gang Converges on Earl Warren After Hot Saucing
The sweaters were out in force at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Tuesday, December 12, when a gang of cold weather-wanting merrymakers descended upon the small, rectangular ice rink for some seasonal skating fun. But before the hordes arrived, they’d spent an hour or so getting in the mood by slurping hot drinks at a nearby Samarkand (technically Clinton Terrace) abode.
On the menu, aside from the normal wine and beer options, were hot toddies, sake ‘n’ ciders, and snugglers, the most common slang name for peppermint schnapps-infused hot chocolates. First up were the toddies, prepared lovingly by Diamond Dave. A maverick in the drink-making field, he didn’t just go with the hot water, whiskey, honey, and lemon recipe called for by so many a tender. Rather, Diamond spread a little tea bag love into the mix, and offered a VSOP brandy as an option to the Knob Creek bourbon. The tea made it work, as I’ve had hot toddies poured by the best bartenders in town that’ve made me wonder why I didn’t just order a shot of whiskey. The herbal notes of the tea gave Diamond’s toddies a seasonal flare.
Next up was the sake and hot apple cider, a favorite of Shaina and Casey. Arriving in a big pot as well as a pre-filled thermos, this concoction was, in my humble opinion, the star of the night. Not only is the recipe an original that cannot be found on The Google, the mellowness of the sake whisks perfectly away into the aroma of the sweet, tangy cider. Surely, you lose a little booze bang for your buck with the less potent sake mix, but it goes down oh so nicely that one person alone could drink the entire thermos.
And the last brew guzzled cautiously before walking out the door and toward the ice rink a couple blocks away was the hot chocolate mixed with peppermint schnapps. This is an American favorite, known to most who actually have a special name for the camping-friendly drink as a “snuggler.” (“Snuggler,” by the way, is a great name for a drink, because even when uttered soberly, it sounds somewhat like slurring.) This evening’s affair was a simple mix of powdered Nestle cocoa, hot water, and a brand of schnapps I’d never seen before. The kicker was the mint chocolate rolled wafers from Pepperidge Farms; when dipped into the cocoa, the minty chocolate inside melted and became a glumpy one with the drink.
By the time we left the house, our spirits were on high and anxiety about ice skating eased by the warm drinks. For $10 a head for one hour, the skating proved extra worthwhile now that our insides had been warmed with these special seasonal beverages. It’ll be happening at Earl Warren Showgrounds all holiday season, so make sure to check it out.
While we cannot officially advocate getting smashed and going ice skating, which would be a losing affair for all involved, we can say that a nice buzz goes well with hard ice. Interested in the result of our evening? Check out the YouTube video below.
(Video and last photo by Joanna Yates)