By Tori and Sasha Sickles
When it comes to the holidays, there is no tradition we leave unturned. Santa will get his cookies (home-made), the tree will be trimmed, and all the holiday foods? Fugetaboutit! The flavors and aromas of the season are more exciting to us than waking up on Christmas morning. This December we’ve decided to say cheers to all the delicious holiday cocktails in our Two River area. We were delighted to discover over the past few weeks that there were more than a few. With that, let’s begin and end with the raise of a glass.
On an unforgivably windy Sunday afternoon we decided on a warm family brunch in the Dark City aka Asbury Park. Talula’s has been a favorite of ours since last summer, but we’ve had yet to eat there between the golden hours of breakfast and lunch. The local eggs, the wood-fired pizza, and the Ginger Hot Toddy ($8) caught our eyes. It turns out that the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s day is a blend of Four Roses Bourbon, ginger syrup, honey, and lemon. A little wooden pick, set like a tightrope across the smooth white mug, holds a piece of candied ginger in the center. We loved the lightness of this drink, the sweetness of the honey, and the spice of the ginger syrup. To cool down from our hot libation we chose a Pickled Beet Bloody Mary ($8). Pickled vodka, Talula’s spicy bloody mix, pickles, fresh horseradish. DE-lish. It was so refreshing and it totally hit the spot. We decided it would be perfect for a winter garden party, should we ever have one.
With a promise of an Uber, we sampled cocktails at Trama’s Trattoria in Long Branch. As big fans of Chef Pat Trama, we knew their specialty cocktails would be equally incredible. The first standout was the Sparkling Bartlett Pear Martini ($13). A beautiful golden colored drink that became more delicious with every sip. A long but very special list of ingredients include Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Bartlett pear puree, lemon, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, local honey, Pear Williams, Blackstrap Bitters, Prosecco and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg. It had a sweet flavor that was complex and dessert-like. You’ll want to sip slowly and savor this drink, like you would a rich slice of cake. The strong pear flavor might have convinced us that this martini is the new mimosa…orange juice can just take a hike.
Smokin’ Angels ($14), was the second standout. This drink is no joke: liquid cherry fire, cooled down with a big square ice cube, with Cherrywood Smoked Angels Envy Bourbon, maurin (a cherry based aperitif), nut bitters, brandied cherries, this drink balances spice, sweet and the gentle touch of heat in just the right way. The brandied cherry is the cherry on top of this cocktail sundae. We tip our hats to Beau the talented bartender, who refers to these cocktail creations as his “babies.” We’ll drink to that.
B2 Bistro + Bar
B2 Bistro has come to feel like an old friend. Since the minute it opened, we’ve been sitting at its bar, eating its polenta, and waiting for each seasonal menu to arrive. The food and drinks never disappoint.
The Fizz Newton ($11), had already won us over with its clever name and clever taste. The perfectly blended ingredients might as well be a list of our favorite things: Hochstadter’s Rye, balsamic, fig, lemon and egg white. This cocktail is rich in taste, creamy in texture, and amber in color. We drank this slowly, taking in the smooth layers of flavor. The only thing better than this concoction is knowing that a second round is on its way.
Born on the Bayou ($11) was the second and last spirited drink we tasted on this holiday cocktail tour. If there’s anything to be said about the 2016 holiday cocktail season it’s that the partridge is in the pear tree for a reason. This mixed drink was served straight up in a martini glass with pear, Bayou rum, falernum (sweet almond syrup), lemon, and nutmeg. Tart and sweet, it goes down easy, not unlike a summer drink with a hearty winter twist. We only wish that the cocktail came with a special performance by John Fogerty.
We hope The Two River Times readers are planning to get in the holiday spirit(s) this season! We would love to hear about your favorites at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat, Drink & Be Merry! (‘Tis the season to drink responsibly.)
141 Shrewsbury Ave.
550 Cookman Ave., Suite 108
115 Brighton Ave.
Tori and Sasha Sickles, members of the Sickles Market family, write about food, culinary trends and casual eateries in their monthly column “Two River Tastes.” You can reach them at email@example.com or follow their food journeys on Instagram @torikaylan and @sasha_ad.
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