A toast to holiday spirits
From hot spiced wine to tantalizing alcohol-free mocktails, ‘tis the season to sip on something sumptuous. So, what are the biggest trends for drinks this winter? We talked with Hotel St. George’s experts to find out what’s hot this holiday season.
In many places having a drink with friends and family is how people bond and create moments that become cherished memories. Now, with holiday celebrations around every corner, there’s no better time to get festive with food and drinks.
How, though, can we eat, drink and be merry and still maintain healthy habits? It doesn’t have to mean strict diets or bland food —a little indulgence is good for the soul, after all.
That’s why we believe in the 80/20 rule: eat and drink healthily 80% of the time, but let yourself have fun the other 20%. This philosophy is based on the ideas of doctor and coach Aki Hintsa, who believed we should all strive to live more balanced lives.
Quality over quantity
According to Hotel St. George’s Sommelier Maria Kuzina and Bartender Ceasar Villon, people are consuming less alcohol. Instead, it’s all about quality over quantity.
Consequently, Wintergarden’s bartenders spent three months experimenting with the menu’s newest cocktails. These days, cocktail lovers are treating themselves to drinks that are well-crafted with unique ingredients, such as the new Back to your Roots cocktail at Wintergarden.
—Our bartender Tuomas harvested roots from a native fern, the common polypody, which have a bittersweet flavour. He infused them with Jameson IPA, a homemade cranberry cordial and citrus juice. It’s a simple mix, but with the flavour from the roots, its something unique. I don’t think you can get that anywhere else, says Ceasar.
Similarly, wine drinkers are on the lookout for something different, although tastes are shifting back to the classics.
—Generally, people go more for quality, something different. For example, wines that come from unusual destinations. Something native to the area, says Maria.
—There’s also a turn back to the classics after the natural wine trend. The movement has established itself and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon, but guests also want to taste the classics.
Healthy habits and happy holidays
Because people are drinking less alcohol, low-alcohol or no-alcohol “mocktails” are becoming increasingly popular. Like cocktails, mocktails balance a variety of flavours to create a unique sensory experience.
—Bartenders are now creating and planning mocktails as seriously as they do cocktails, because guests these days are not happy with just lemonade or juice if they come to a restaurant to enjoy the evening, says Bartender Jesse Auvinen.
—We have an array of cordials and syrups that we use in our mocktails and those have a lot of intense flavours. If you really want to fool the senses, we have an atomizer in the back which lets us coat the drink with alcohol so you get the aroma of alcohol, Ceasar explains.
Seasonal menus at St. George
This winter, Restaurant Andrea and Wintergarden are offering a seasonal array of delectable drinks. So, what do our experts think makes the perfect holiday drink?
According to Maria, champagne and red wine are always good choices.
—Champagne is an easy-going, celebratory drink. You can have it as an aperitif, you can have it with food, you can have it after food. Here at St. George we offer quite a range, she says.
—I also recommend warming red wine. Nothing too heavy unless you’re having food, but something that warms you up with soft tannins. Our Barbera is a fantastic choice.
As one of Wintergarden’s master cocktail mixers, Ceasar prefers to cater drinks to the individual tastes of the guests.
—I ask how you’re feeling at the moment and what your favourite spirits and flavour profiles are. But in winter, we do have a lot of seasonal flavours: warm, nutty, cinnamony, chocolatey flavours. I try to lean in that direction.
And, of course, there’s always glögi, Finland’s version of spiced mulled wine. Our alcoholic version is based on red wine, while our non-alcoholic version uses cold-pressed black currant juice and apple nectar flavoured with ginger, orange peel, hibiscus and star aniseed.
As for the best way to enjoy your drink of choice, both Maria and Ceasar agree that the winning ingredient is always the same: good company.