Hotel bars and restaurants everywhere spice up their menus during the winter. According to chef Peter Coenen at SALT Restaurant in Marina del Rey, Calif., expectations and taste simply change during the winter, so each season and menu should be unique.
For example, Coenen isn’t going to serve much hot French onion soup during the summer. During the winter, however, it’s more common, as are L.A.-style cocktails.
“Being in L.A. we are not specifically in a cold winter so a good rule of thumb is to not treat the cocktails this way, over-exposing the guests to standard ciders and hot drinks,” Coenen explains. “Instead we take the ingredients into consideration using more winter-based or holiday flavors. Something like this can also involve the guests.”
A great example, explains Coenen, is an event that the restaurant held on property over the holiday season titled Merry on the Marina, where six specific cocktails that speak to winter weather “L.A. style,” as well as the holiday season, were created.
In addition to warm desserts and cocktails, Executive Chef Morelli keeps the restaurant stocked with mushrooms -- black trumpet, chanterelles and hedgehogs -- during the winter. Dry aged steaks are also phenomenal for the cold weather, but also rich seafood like black cod and Dungeness crab make an excellent choice, he notes.
“We like to use more wholesome grains such as wild rice, buckwheat, farro for winter as well, where they are more the star of the dish than in other seasons,” Morelli says. “It’s a great time of the year to use some of the preserves from the spring/summer like pickled ramps or tomato marmalade.”
At Jean-Georges Beverly Hills and the restaurant inside the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, they start to balance their menus with heavier and richer dishes complimentary to the colder weather, as opposed to summer and spring, when fresh and light seasonal ingredients are customary.
The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, located on the bank of the Kennebunk River in Kennebunkport, Maine, throws events with unique drinks for party goers instructed to dress in red. In addition to the fires going, comfy chairs and a view of the frozen water, there’s a 10-foot ice bar carved from seven 300-pound blocks of ice with two ice luges. Once the bartender completes a drink, it’s poured down the luge to chill before going in the guest’s cup.
Whether hot or cold, a range of cocktails formulated especially for the winter season help hotels satisfy guests throughout the cold months. "During the colder months of the year, our guests expect to enjoy richer dishes with fuller wines, as well as chocolate and creamier, heavier desserts,” Jacob Musyt, director of F&B at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills says.
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