Some Like It Hot!
Time to give your hot drink program
some added spirit and warm up to increased sales.
Hudson Valley Grog,
courtesy Kohler Co.
(Photo by Mike Huibregtse.)
Most operators offer hot drinks starting somewhere around mid-October and run them through March, but in the case of one Midwest club, they’re served up year-round, proving that hot cocktails are the perfect antidote not only to cold weather, but to a multitude of life’s twists and turns. Whether customers are suffering from yet another encounter with the boss from hell, or jitters from the upcoming holiday at Aunt Milly’s, a spirited warmer medicinally wraps its arms around them, letting them know everything is going to be all right.
So what makes hot drinks so popular? In Washington, DC, Capital Restaurant Concept’s corporate executive chef Bryan Healy says, “They’re warming, they’re sensual; you have the warmth of the liquor and the warmth of the coffee or tea. They’re delicious. They seemed to have been pushed out in the late nineties and then in the early 2000s, I saw a move back again. I grew up in Pennsylvania and the Farmer’s Almanac says it’s going to be a rough winter!”
Hot drinks aren’t demographically partial, but certain environments do seem to lend themselves more easily to serving hot cocktails - almost beckoning customers to order a hot one. Like the atmosphere found at J. Paul’s in historic Georgetown, one of Capital Restaurant Concepts’ 11 restaurants, where the profile is high, the food chef-driven, and the cocktails expected to make politics more palatable. Heralded as a classic-turn-of-the-century American saloon, it houses Chicago Stockyards’ authentic mahogany bar and the New York Waldorf-Astoria’s antique brass elevator doors.
HOT BUTTERED RUM
Healy says, “We’re a little egotistical when it comes to our menu items and besides that, chefs basically always think that they can make something better by putting butter in it.” Their classic hot buttered rum is no exception. Mixing two ounces each of light and dark rum together with an equal amount of hot water, Healy then adds a small pat of butter in and stirs. “It really emulsifies just like butter when you do a beurre blanc; as long as you don’t melt it down ahead of time and just stir it in cold, it will cream out.” Served in a glass café coffee mug finished with a cinnamon swizzle stick, J. Paul’s charges $9.50 for the concoction.
“Probably the biggest sellers at J. Paul’s are the Irish and Mexican coffees, and between them and the hot buttered rum, about one out of every three dining tables orders one during our winter season,” says Healy. Served straight up, the Mexican coffee drink takes 3/4 oz. each of Kahlua and tequila, and a rail Irish whiskey and Baileys topped off with whipped cream and shaved chocolate bring the Irish to life. Both coffees sell for $6.95.
Another CRC landmark in George-town, Paolo’s Ristorante, offers its Paolo’s Café Framboise. “We use a double shot of espresso, a shot and a half of Chambord, and an ounce and a half of Tia Maria; it’s a beautiful drink and we serve it in the same café glass,” says Healy. Topped with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder, the drink sells for $7. “Every now and then at Paolo’s we’ll mess around with hot chocolate, but it’s rare. If we do anything with hot chocolate we’ll do a Peppermint Patty that is basically hot chocolate with white cr