All we want for Christmas is a little one-on-one time with a hot toddy.
Or maybe a perfectly smooth red blend made from the best Virginia grapes. Perhaps a generous pour of a robust Czech lager is in order, the kind that opens up new complexities as it warms up.
But we won’t pretend to know what’s on everyone’s wishlist. Instead, we asked a few local alcohol experts what their favorite drinks are this time of year. Here’s what they had to say:
For the… sipper of blood alcohol
Midlothian Chef’s Kitchen Beverage Manager John Maher aka Chef Johnny makes a medium eggnog. Yes, that’s right, old nog.
Maher’s Eggnog is based on Alton Brown’s recipe and includes a dozen egg yolks, a pound of sugar, and three cups of alcohol. While Brown’s version calls for at least two weeks aging, Maher goes one step further and keeps her dog in the back of the refrigerator for 365 days.
“It’s thicker and smoother and the alcohol has calmed down a lot, it’s delicious,” says Maher. While you can’t get your hands on lots of Maher’s Mason jars – “This is for home consumption only” – it makes a damn good up-to-the-minute version at Midlothian Chef’s Kitchen, available now until late. of the month.
While most bars will take a shortcut with their eggnog iterations – think Bailey’s and Bourbon – Maher does it all.
Johnny’s Nog, served cold and sparkling in a long stemmed wine glass, is made with bourbon, rum, brandy, heavy cream, a whole egg, turbinado syrup and black nut bitter. It’s drizzled, creamy and emulates Maher’s high volume homemade cow’s milk, “These are all the same ingredients, repackaged for a single serving.”
When not behind the bar, the Richmond native is working on his recently launched side concert, RVA PDR (short for restaurant for private dining). Maher and her team will come to your home and cook up a Michelin-level five-course meal and appetizers. You can add caviar, liver, whiskey, truffle or a cigar set, all Maher asks is that customers have a clean kitchen and a trash can. The PDR crew takes care of the rest.
“It’s a chance for me to do what I really love to do,” says Maher.
What about those chilly December evenings after a busy bar quarter or a late night PDR dinner? Aside from her homemade eggnog, Maher says her “favorite thing on the planet” is a simple daiquiri. “I always have a tiki drink on my menu in the winter,” he says. “You should be able to have a fun drink with some nasty toppings when it’s snowing outside. ”
Tip: You can get a daiquiri made by Maher for just $ 6 Wednesday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Midlothian Chef’s Kitchen.
For the … melancholy wine lover
Common House Beverage Director and Sommelier Erin Scala arranges food and wine pairings for private dinners in a wine cellar at the social club’s new bar and raw coffee, Birdie’s, and is also responsible for the bottles in the cellar and retail in the restaurant.
The wine pro – her accolades include Wine Enthusiast’s list of “40 wine professionals under 40 to watch” and her work at several Michelin-starred establishments – says she started thinking about holiday wine long before the temperature does not drop and the stockings are suspended.
Scala tells us, via email, that she refills a case of her favorite high-quality sparkling wine, Crémant de Loire, around September. “Crémant usually costs between $ 20 and $ 30 a bottle, so it’s fancy but doesn’t break the bank. It’s perfect for the holidays, and it’s also a great host gift, ”says Scala.
While Old World wine is always festive, Scala insists bottles of Virginia find their place at your holiday table, too.
Her choices include Ankida Ridge Chardonnay for “that perfect balance of dense richness and tangy acidity”; Midland Construction Cabernet Frankish from Shenandoah Valley which is “medium bodied, smooth, interesting, a wonderful red wine from Virginia”; and Early Mountain Eluvium, a Madison County red blend that Scala says is “one of my favorite Virginia reds.”
Where to find Scala’s recs:
Order Ankida Ridge online to be shipped to your door. Bottles of 2018 and 2019 Chardonnay are priced at $ 32, or you can purchase a 2018 case (12 bottles) for just $ 230.
Midland is also shipping its 2020 Cabernet Frankish; bottles are priced at $ 25.
Early Mountain’s Eluvium is available online. Order a 2019 Bottle ($ 60) or splurge on the Wax Dipped and Signed 2015 Magnum ($ 125) for a special oenophile in your life.
For the… gourmet beer drinker
Self-proclaimed curator of the beer experience and founder of Capsoul Collective, Eric Jackson, says that in general he has seen a resurgence of beer drinkers seeking more traditional styles, like lagers. That means if you’ve taken the Goose Funk Train or a hazy IPA Kick, maybe now is a great time to get back to the classics.
“When I think of vacations, I think of winter, cool weather and coffee, dark roasts with strong, robust flavors,” says Jackson.
Nationally, we think of Guinness. “It’s dark, it’s creamy, it’s drunk very easily,” says Jackson of the only 4.2% ABV beer.
Locally, Jackson is a fan of the Czech brunette lager from Triple Crossing, who also has a relatively low ABV at 5.2%. “Triple Crossing is probably the most consistent brewery when it comes to their wide array of beer styles and being consistent with the regions they pay homage to,” Jackson said.
Jackson also likes Dark Rye from Ardent Craft Ales, which has a spicier flavor profile than its cousin the brown lager. “Black rye drinks a bit heavier – it’s more robust than Czech,” says Jackson. At 9.8% ABV, Imperial stout is the biggest beverage on Jackson’s list.
Another Jackson vacation favorite is the award-winning Black Lager from Bingo Beer Co. “It’s similar to a Czech brown lager,” Jackson says. “It’s super roasted but it’s also low blood alcohol and easy to drink.”
Jackson’s latest seasonal choice is Vasen’s Velvet Walrus, made with Ceylon cinnamon and Mexican vanilla beans. “It’s like a dessert! It’s decadent, with fudge-y flavors, and something you can enjoy while it’s warming up (at room temperature), ”says Jackson.
The certified beer server advises savoring his heavy stouts, like the 9% Velvet Walrus, at a very cold point to see how the flavor changes.
Where to find Jackson’s recordings:
Triple Crossing’s Czech brown lager is available in six packs online and on tap at breweries in Fulton and downtown.
Ardent’s Dark Rye is available on tap at the brewery and in the Ardent cooler to go.
The Velvet Walrus by Vasen is now available at the brewery; 16 oz. Packs of 4 are available online.
Bingo Black Lager is available on tap at the brewery.