Adding to my long list of ailments I self-diagnosed with the help of the Internet, I’m scribbling in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Winter is by far the worst season. The adjectives cold, dark, boring and dead inside not only describe (insert name of loathed presidential candidate here), but also emote how I feel during the months of November, December, January and February.
I’d give 100 Januarys for just one extra June. I’d celebrate Labor Day 10 times and skip Valentine’s Day altogether. Who’s with me?
Obviously not the sun, because I think that’s why we have winter.
So is there any good that comes from a stretch of time that makes it dark before happy hour begins? Fortunately, I found a few pockets of sunshine around town these past few weeks on my hunt for delicious seasonal drinks that have been slowly added to menus. This is not a full list by any means — time and money prevent me from bar hopping as much as I’d like to.
Hopefully, if you’re like me, one of these drinks will melt the frozen cockles of your heart, and instead of wasting a Sunday on zombies, you’ll go be social and try something different.
• Haymarket scores with Jane Doe
Haymarket Whiskey Bar‘s Chris Maggio is more magical than Santa. The other day, he gave me a whirlwind tour of their new seasonal menu, and one, in particular, was the most interesting thing I’ve put in my mouth since Pop Rocks.
It’s called the Jane Doe, and it’s made with Rittenhouse rye whiskey and the bar’s house-made cider and grenadine. And it’s topped with Christmas. In my notes, I actually wrote “Christmas in a glass.” The drink is whiskey first and foremost, as it should be, but the delicious cider and non-syrupy grenadine creep around the tongue like elves peeking through your windows.
I hear they’re making it now with Four Roses Single Barrel due to the Holiday Cocktail Challenge in NuLu — but more on that later.
• Big Bar offers up a small slice of Frozen Pumpkin Pie
The slushie/smoothie machine at Big Bar never ceases to amaze me. The offerings are usually always worth trying once, but this week’s Frozen Pumpkin Pie is worth going back for second and third helpings.
Owner Kevin Bryan says it’s made with Captain Morgan, ice cream and pumpkin pie syrup, but it tastes like Grandma had her fingers in the recipe — in a good way, of course. They’re $6, and a dollar off during happy hour.
And if I were you, I’d go ahead and ask for a topper.
• Sidebar’s adult milkshakes bring the boys to the yard
Sidebar has adult versions of its hand-blended ice cream shakes, and its latest one, which might not even be on the menu yet, is made with Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey and pumpkin pie mixings. Since they don’t have an official name for it yet, I’ll call it the Great Chocolate Pumpkin People Eater, because it’s the best thing you’ll never taste if you stick to that dumb diet.
The four Ballotin products — Original Chocolate, Bourbon Ball, Chocolate Mint and Caramel Turtle — are just now hitting bar shelves, so we can expect many bartenders to have their way with the flavorful spirits.
• Gunner: The Back Door’s O.G.
No, the Gunner is not a seasonal cocktail — it’s always on the unspoken menu for the regulars at The Back Door. But bartender Marianne Schroeder’s invention has been putting peps in people’s steps long before Jagerbomb became a household name.
Made with a mug full of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kahlua and coffee, if you’re not in high spirits after a round of this, you need to lay off the Adele. Go during happy hour when Marianne is working and have her top it with whipped cream. You won’t be disappointed … until maybe the next morning.
• Get on board the NuLuDays Holiday Cocktail Challenge
My job isn’t hard. In fact, you can be your own Bar Belle for the day and drink your way through NuLu for this Four Roses-sponsored cocktail challenge. Eight bars are offering up one-of-a-kind seasonal cocktails for you to vote on using social media.
The players include Against the Grain, Decca, Feast, Harvest, Haymarket, Galaxie, Garage Bar and Rye, which gives you an idea of how well-crafted and delicious these drinks will be.
Last Saturday, I tried two of them — Galaxie‘s Chai Milk Punch and Decca‘s Poison Apple — and both knocked my rain boots off. There are some on the list I’ll be hitting this weekend, like Garage Bar‘s You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out! and Against the Grain‘s Scarlett Fever. The challenge ends Dec. 5, so be sure to vote for your favorite by hashtagging #nuludays along with the name of the bar on Twitter and/or Instagram.
• Holiday drinks abound at the 30th annual Bardstown Road Aglow
Starting tonight, Nov. 25, Highlands-area bars and restaurants will have special Maker’s Mark mugs to give away that’ll contain their own unique cocktail concoction. Well, give away as in $10 a piece, but proceeds benefit Highlands Community Ministries.
It’s all part of the 30th annual Bardstown Road Aglow, which culminates on Saturday, Dec. 5. If you’re interested in sampling some of the drinks, there’s a free party tonight at Seviche from 5-7 p.m. The names are quite intriguing: Seviche is offering up a Perfect Cherry-Pineapple Manhattan; Bearno’s has the Gingerbread Delight; O’Shea’s drink is titled Make It Happen; and La Chasse is serving up the delicious-sounding Smoked Bourbon Hot Chocolate.
This story has been updated.