As a native of Syracuse — a region in Central New York known for its lake effect snow-packed winters, negative degree windchill, and "polar vortexes" and "bomb cyclones," — I always carried myself as one made for winter. Weather that made other regions shutdown were Syracuse's warmup to the main event. When it was so cold that your face hurt upon touching the air, we just wore bigger scarves. Driving in whiteouts to the Carrier Dome or "our" Wegmans was simply a badge of honor. Yeah, I knew winter, and I was tough enough to handle it.
And then I came to the Adirondacks, a space that puts my winter wonderland in Syracuse to shame in every possible way. It is far more beautiful, more grand, and more ready to fulfill the desires of your winter adventuring soul. It is also much, much, much, MUCH colder. My tough-gal winter vibe was immediately humbled during my first Adirondack winter. I am now the proud owner of just about every piece of cold-weather gear you could have, doing my best impression of Randy from A Christmas Story wherever I go. I have also embraced the Adirondack secret weapon for conquering the cold: indulging in delicious, warm drinks.
If you're looking for outdoor winter recreation in the Adirondacks, chances are you are making a stop in the Whiteface Region. Our ROOST content team decided to take a moment to supply you, dear reader, with our favorite recipes and stops for a warm drink in Wilmington.
A warm drink for outdoor adventures: Janelle Jones
In winter (and in every season), I'm outdoors. If I'm not out skiing, I'm resting and preparing for the next day skiing. I know how important it is to stay hydrated with lots of water during winter recreation, but I also know a chilly sip on a cold day isn't exactly appealing sometimes. That's why I'm a strong advocate for bringing along an extra drink, and a warm one at that! A friend introduced me to wassail years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. This aromatic, delicious hot drink puts me in the holiday spirit and it smells absolutely amazing, both when it's brewing and when you open your thermos on the trail.
Here's everything you need to make wassail:
- 8 cups of apple cider
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 4 whole cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole cloves or 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Once you have everything, mix it all in a slow cooker for an hour, and then enjoy. This recipe is non-alcoholic, but if you want to add dark rum, brandy, or bourbon, go for it!
Stay warm. Stay hydrated. Enjoy wassail on the trail or indoors next to a warm fireplace. Hey, you can even start the wassail in the slow cooker, go for a snowshoe hike, stop by Little Super to get a sub, and then come home to a wonderful smelling house.
Hot chocolate: Aurora Pfaff
Hot chocolate is as classic a winter treat as gingerbread cookies and candy canes. It even goes well with them, too! To make your own amazing hot chocolate, you don't need a mix, just a bit of milk and really good chocolate. This means a trip to the sweetly-scented chocolate heaven that is Adirondack Chocolates. There, you can get rich chocolate perfect for warming up and indulging.
I'm partial to white hot chocolate and it is so much better when it's homemade! This recipe makes white hot chocolate for two, since you'll want to share the love this season.
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup white chocolate buttons or chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the milk, white chocolate, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Whisk continuously over medium-low heat, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth (do not boil). Serve immediately and top with whipped cream, marshmallows, and whatever sweet treats you like! Hint: Adirondack Chocolates carries an array of fun options!
Grownups-only hot chocolate: Rhiannon Berry
Like Aurora, homemade hot chocolate is an easy way to warm my soul during these chilly winter months. While I have heard of "grown-up hot chocolate" before, I always avoided mixing alcohol with chocolate. The idea just never thrilled me. However, a recent trip to Pourman's Taphouse in Wilmington officially converted me to the dark (delicious) side. After a day out in the cold, I desperately needed to warm up. Our waitress carried a fresh hot chocolate with Baileys past our table, and I was sold. Minutes later, I was sipping the warm, deliciousness of a magical concoction I've put off for far too long.
(Pourman's Taphouse has since closed and the Twisted Raven, a new bar is at this location.)
Since this magical evening, I've looked up variations of this beverage and came across what has become my go-to recipe of choice. I strongly suggest giving it a try (or two) this season!
- Homemade hot chocolate (see Aurora's recipe above!)
- Liquor of choice. I suggest Baileys, Amaretto, peppermint or marshmallow vodka, or coffee liqueur
- Peppermint Candy Cane
- Marshmallow fluff or vanilla frosting
- Whipped cream
You know those fancy rimmed glasses used for decadent cocktails? If you want to lean into the Festivus spirit, line your mug with a candy cane rim for this delightful beverage. Pro tip: use either vanilla frosting or marshmallow fluff as the base for your candy-coated rim rather than a liquid; that's an easy way to have disintegrating, sticky, melting candy cane mess dripping down the sides of your mug. The frosting or fluff will hold and keep your candy cane bits where they belong!
Crush your candy cane in a baggie or an envelope, and pour the crushed pieces onto a plate in a circular outline. This should be approximately the same width as your mug. On a separate plate, spoon your base of choice — whether frosting or fluff — into the same size circle as your crushed candies. Dip the rim of your mug into your base before dipping it again into the candy.
Pour your freshly brewed hot chocolate into your mug and add a touch of your liquor of choice. (How much is "a touch?" As much or as little as you'd like!) Spray on your whipped cream and, if you are really feeling the holiday spirit, add some final crushed candy sprinkles on top!
Hot Toddy: Noah Ball
It’s après time! For those chilly days exploring the mountains, it’s nice to cap off the adventure with a drink to warm your spirits. Bring in the hot toddy! A classic post-ski cocktail, this drink is full of festive spices to match the season. Whether you’ve been lapping the chairlifts at Whiteface, or you’re exhausted from an alpine start, this cheery drink is a great way to end an epic day.
After a light snow, we stopped by Pourman’s in Wilmington for their hot toddy, but if you want to make your own, here’s how I make mine:
- 2 oz. whiskey
- 1-2 oz. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. honey
- Hot water to the top of the mug
- Garnish with a cinnamon stick, star anise, a lemon wheel, and some cloves to really give this drink its cozy comfort.
Make this drink non-alcoholic, or substitute gin and oranges for whiskey and lemons to add a fun flair.