Sunday, December 09, 2001

Ask the critic

Hot drinks stirring for cold days

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Question: If it ever gets cold, I'd like to know where to get a good hot alcoholic drink. Do any bars or restaurants make anything special?

        Answer: Calls to a few restaurants with good bars turned up a few drinks you might want to try.

        My first thought was the British Isles, where they drink hot drinks because the weather's so miserable. Indeed, bartender Paul Stringer at Nicholson's Pub, downtown, claims he makes the best hot toddy from a recipe he brought from Scotland. Made with Johnny Walker red, clove honey, lemon juice, brown sugar and spices, it sounds as if it would cure the worst cold.

        At the Dubliner Irish Pub in Pleasant Ridge, you could order mulled wine, made of cabernet, brandy and bitters, sweetened and spiced. The Dubliner has a cozy front pub and a fireplace.

        Lynne Hanlon, a bartender at Trio in Kenwood, likes to serve hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps in the winter, or as a nonalcoholic variation, hot chocolate with crushed peppermints in the whipped cream on top. Hot tea with amaretto also is good, she says, and has fewer calories.

        Coffee drinks are popular around town. Parker's Blue Ash Grill offers Grill cafe, made with Chambord (raspberry liqueur), Godiva liqueur and coffee. (If you like fireplaces, Parker's has one in every room.)

        Downtown at the Havana Martini Club, hot nuts are popular: that's half Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), half hot coffee, served as a shooter.

        At Watson Bros. in Blue Ash, beer's the most popular drink, which is not good hot. But they also have a bottle of Bailey's feature, where a bottle of the Irish cream liqueur is brought to the table with coffee, and four people can try different combinations of Bailey's and coffee, such as Russian coffee, which adds Stoly vanilla, or a B-52 coffee, with Kahlua and vodka added.

        Send questions or comments to dining critic Polly Campbell by fax: 768-8330; e-mail:


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