Perfect Pours: Three Drinks That Will Add a Little Pep to Your Step!
Like the cool breeze whipping through the city right now, the chill of peppermint is ever-present during the holidays. Synonymous with the season — in leaf, liquid, or candy form — peppermint is also packed with awesome benefits, like boosting our energy during a long day of shopping, soothing digestive issues after that second (or third) helping of roast beast, and freshening our breath before any mistletoe-centric encounters. Sip on these benefits, and some delicious flavor combos, as we show full support for three drinks that will add a little pep in your step:
La Prima Espresso Company
The bold flavors of coffee, peppermint, and chocolate go hand in hand (in hand). And they do so beautifully at La Prima Espresso Company. We headed to the North Side setup in Nova Place, where the traditional Italian-style brews the Strip District flagship is known for can be enjoyed with flavorful twists that reflect the seasons. Around the holidays, Manager Sam Polito serves up what he calls “a modern take on a peppermint mocha.” The secret to the drink’s smoothness is the use of organic chocolate milk — a creamier alternative to the usual go-to of chocolate syrup. Barista Cole Tucci whips up a house-made, peppermint simple syrup to join the chocolate milk and La Prima’s Miscela Bar Espresso in pure peppermint mocha bliss. “I like this [drink] because it’s real chocolate and actual peppermint from the plant,” Polito says. “It’s authentic. You don’t get that sugary, overly sweet taste like you do with bottled syrups.” After one sip of the frothy concoction, we can agree. The peppermint is immediately present without overpowering, as it’s mellowed out by the richness of the other components. “It was hard to find the balance and the exact measurements to marry the flavors of the coffee, chocolate, and peppermint,” Tucci says. We think they nailed it.
La Prima Espresso Company, Nova Place, 100 S. Commons St., North Side. 412.577.8090. 205 21st St., Strip District. 412.281.1922. laprima.com.
Olive or Twist
One of the most iconic peppermint treats is the Peppermint Patty — a chilly, chocolatey dream that raises goosebumps and dilates pupils. (Well, it does in the commercials at least.) But we had a similar reaction while sipping on the Peppermint Patty cocktail, a seasonal staple at Olive or Twist. Cool in temperature and minty freshness, the decadent drink is a spot-on, liquid interpretation of the beloved candy. It starts with a drizzle of chocolate syrup along the inside of a martini glass. Then, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, peppermint schnapps, creme de cacao, and an ice cream base are shaken with ice before the mixture is strained into the decorated vessel. Thickened by the base, it flirts with the line between milkshake and cocktail while still keeping the integrity of the spirits. We can definitely see why it’s been a holiday special at the Downtown hotspot for a few years now, along with other full-bodied, winter-time libations that are flavored with ginger, cranberry, or even black pepper. Still, Jana Jenkins, sales and events manager at Olive or Twist, says the most popular cocktails for this time of year are the Mint Chocolate Chip and the Peppermint Patty. “Even when it’s not on the menu, people order it,” Jenkins says. “It’s a crowd pleaser.”
Olive or Twist, 140 6th St., Downtown. 412.255.0524. olive-twist.com.
When it came time to whip up a festive new milkshake at BRGR’s Cranberry location, the movie “Elf” played a starring role in the creative process. “Buddy the Elf inspired us,” says Buddy the Chef, who is more formally known as Buddy Duchesne, executive chef of BRGR. He and his wife, Allison Duchesne, general manager of BRGR, dreamt up the Peppermint Swirl milkshake after watching the Christmas classic. In the scene where Will Ferrell’s character, Buddy, is en route to New York City, he travels through the Candy Cane Forest. “So there’s a lot of snow, which is like the vanilla ice cream we used. There are dark rocks, which we represented with [crumbled] peppermint-chocolate cookies. And of course, the candy canes themselves,” Buddy says, pointing the landmarks out in a screenshot of the scene. The frosty interpretation can be spiked with chocolate vodka for an extra kick, but if you’re not into “syrup,” that’s fine, too. Each sip still gives you a balanced mix of smooth ice cream and crunchy cookie and candy pieces. And its garnishes of whipped cream, finely crushed candy canes, and a thick peppermint stick — not to mention the bedecked glass itself, which mimics the candy’s iconic, striped design — make it a fun, colorful way to spread some extra cheer this year.