On the Rocks

Frozen Holiday Cocktails Make More Sense Than You Think

State Fare's mulled sangria and Cranberry Surprise are seasonal standouts.

By Alice Levitt November 29, 2016

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Cranberry Surprise and Mulled Sangria at State Fare, $8 each.

Image: Alice Levitt

According to Weather Kitty (the cutest/most accurate weather app I've found), as I write this, it is 85 degrees outside with 63 percent average humidity. But it's also two days until December. Can you say "cognitive dissonance?" Basically, my heart is saying hot apple cider while my head is saying frozen lemonade.

But as she always seems to, Cherry Pie Hospitality beverage director Laurie Harvey understands. After all, this is the lady who somehow intuited that what people needed to drink with their Pi Pizzas is a Screwston daiquiri made with vodka, purple drank and fernet branca menta. She has a particular way with frozen cocktails, so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that she's found a way to combine that flair with festive holiday flavors on her new drink menu at State Fare Kitchen & Bar

As a rule, I only drink alcohol when I have to work—unless it's mulled wine. There's something about spiced red wine ladled out of a pot that makes it more winter ritual than tipple. The process of making a chilly frosé is just as much of an experience, and Harvey calls her Mulled Sangria her take on the trendy frozen rosé. There's something more than a little Dickensian about the drink—red wine with brandy and orange zest (ruby Port, aromatic allspice dram or Amargo-Vallet bitters are each $1 extra)—as if Scrooge brought a glass of hot wine with him from Fezziwig's party, only to find it chilled by his haunting trip to the cemetery.

But I was even more captivated by another frozen cocktail, the Cranberry Surprise. After all, the alcoholic drinks I like best are the ones flavorful enough to make me forget that I'm drinking alcohol at all. With strong notes of sweet-and-sour cranberry, autumnal spices and a sprig of rosemary that dramatically influences the drink's flavor, there is much to enjoy besides the vodka. But if that's what you're really there for, I won't blame you too much. Even if you don't need help warming up, 'tis the season to partake.

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