Restaurants turn up the heat on cocktails as more patrons eat outside

National/World

In many cities, restaurants can only serve customers in outdoor dining settings during the coronavirus pandemic. The challenge is keeping customers warm in the winter months. Now some establishments are finding a new way to turn up the temperature.

The upscale Korean steakhouse Cote in New York is serving mulled wine. Beverage director Victoria James says the red mulled wine comes warm with a shot of hard liquor, nuts, and raisins. The white wine version includes gin and cinnamon. Some diners say it reminds them of apple cider.

“The pandemic completely changed how we interact with our guests,” says Cote owner Simon Kim. He thinks the drinks could become the next big thing. “For the first time in New York City, hot cocktail became more of a necessity,” he says.

Bars and restaurants are adapting their menus to hold onto business. Cote is developing new hot cocktails for future menus.

“It’s a survival mechanism,” says Chris Stang, CEO of Infatuation and Zagat Restaurant Guides. He says hot cocktails are part of that survival.
Other NYC establishments are offering hot drinks, too. There’s a 19th century flaming whiskey concoction at bar Dante, and restaurant Niche Niche offers up a boozy hot chocolate topped with chartreuse-laced whipped cream.

You can find hot drinks in cities around the U.S. There’s spiked cider at Washington D.C.’s Truxton Inn. The Sportsman’s Club in Chicago has hot toddies. Atlanta’s Wrecking Bar Brewpub is serving up hot buttered rum.

“There’s been a lot of necessary, I guess what you would call, innovation,” Stang says.

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