Another year and another harsh Connecticut winter has come upon us. When the air is freezing, the winds pick up and a storm seems to be brewing, it’s best to stay indoors and watch the snow pile up outside while sipping on a hot winter beverage with a kick. Stamford’s award-winning restaurant Napa and Co. has, in addition to its massive wine selection, an impressive offering of cocktails mixed by Bar Manager Eric Ribeiro. So we asked him about his latest hot drinks to enjoy this season.
Napa & Co.
75 Broad St.
Stamford, CT 06907
Eric Ribeiro studied culinary arts in France and held stints as a chef, bartender and manager at several Parisian restaurants. He also worked at Terra, Wildfire and Mediterraneo in Greenwich and Stamford’s Grand before joining Napa and Co. in 2008. “I was a chef before becoming a bartender; my inspiration comes from the kitchen” he says. “A good cocktail has to be balanced. The basic block to build a cocktail is alcohol, sugar, acidity and bitterness. From that I try to be creative – it’s a lot to choose from acidities, sugars, bitters and alcohol. I also in my cocktails use fruits, vegetables and spices; I always make sure to have the flavor affinities working together. So yes, I spend quite a bit of my time in the kitchen.” Some of Ribeiro’s most recent time in the kitchen was spent creating the following hot winter cocktails.
Amaretto Hot Chocolate (Serves 4 to 5)
- 1.5 cups milk
- 0.5 cups cream
- 10 oz chopped 72 bittersweet chocolate
- 5 oz Amaretto Disaronno
- Heat the milk and cream over medium high heat until bubbles are created around the pot.
- Remove the pot from heat.
- Add the bittersweet chocolate.
- Stir until melted, adjusting heat as needed.
- Add the Amaretto.
- Serve in a coffee cup or mug and garnish with toasted sliced almonds.
Rhubarb Rum Hot Toddy (Serves 1)
- 2 oz Tanduay Gold Rum
- 1 oz Art In the Age Rhubarb Liquor
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- 3 dashes St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- 5 oz hot water
- Combine all the ingredients in a tea pot and stir.
- Serve in a mug and garnish with a lemon wheel.
Gluehwein (Mulled Wine, Serves 4 to 5)
- 1 bottle of wine
- 6 oz of Ruby port
- 1 orange
- 10 cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon mace spice
- 1 oz chopped fresh ginger
- 0.5 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Stud the orange with the cloves.
- Cut the orange in half and place the two halves in a baking tray.
- Bake the orange halves for 15 minutes.
- Combine the wine, cinnamon, allspice, mace spice and ginger in a large pan and stir without bringing it to a boil.
- Add the port and the orange halves.
- Stir gently then take off the heat and set to one side for 15 minutes.
- Strain with a chinois.
- Serve in a mug and garnish with a slice of orange.
Note: Be careful not to boil; gently heat up and simmer.
Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com.