BEIRUT: With the holidays and colder weather upon us, it’s time to put down the gin and tonic or vodka Redbull and look to more festive libations.
Seasonal classics such as grog and mulled wine have the added benefit of being able to warm cold hands, as they are usually served piping hot.
Adding spices and fruit to liquor and then heating it up is common the world over, and there are over 20 different cultures that have their own variations on mulled wine. Added to this tradition are more recent concoctions, such as the hot toddy and grog, as well as the ubiquitous practice of adding a shot of whiskey or rum to hot chocolate.
While often served from large, bubbling vats that diffuse wine vapors throughout kitchens at Christmas parties or holiday meals, warm cocktails can just as easily be made for two as for 20.
Roy Fares, the owner of Roy’s in Badaro, has personal takes on winter cocktails that he imbues with his system of “standardized personalization” – each drink comes out a little bit different depending on the feel of the ingredients and the person he’s making it for.
“Because every lime isn’t the same,” Fares said.
Just off the main street of Badaro, Roy’s may be one of Beirut’s best-kept secrets. And Fares, who worked for years at bars around Gemmayzeh, is known particularly for his cocktails. In fact, his bar is one of the few in the city with not just one, but a special menu full of winter drinks.
In keeping with his philosophy, and with little space behind the bar for pots full of boiling red wine, all of Fares’ cocktails are made as a single serving.
“I think grog was one of the first cocktails ever made. Pilots can make it; it’s so simple. Just orange juice, hot water and rum,” Fares said.
Fares took the guesswork out of converting holiday drink recipes from party size to individual portions and offered his personal takes on the classics to The Daily Star. Just as easy to mix as those brewed in the more traditional group serving, these cocktails are perfect for warming up by the fire after a long day of holiday festivities.
And for those who can’t quite take the heat but still want a festive drink, Fares recommends a grasshopper made with the perennial holiday favorite – peppermint schnapps.