Healthy holiday cocktails

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Winter drinks at some of the top stops for sustainable fare


  • Manhattan Fig at Candle 79. Photo: Liz Richards

  • Plum Cocktail at Nix. Photo: Liz Richards

  • Pair the seaonal sangria with the blackberry cobbler at Ellary's Greens. Photo: Liz Richards

There’s so much magic in this time of year, and it comes out not just in the lights and decorations around the city and the cold bite of frost that’s in the air, but also in the rich flavors of the season. Winter tastes — combinations of tastes like plum, cinnamon, brandy, apple, squash and roasted nuts — have a heartiness to them that defines the season. These potent and magical flavors aren’t just limited to soothing winter dishes. The truth is that our favorite healthy restaurants throughout the city have wonderful drink menus designed to enhance their best seasonal dishes. Whether you’re uptown or downtown, your favorite stops for sustainable fare have responsibly-sourced cocktails packed with flavor and holiday cheer. ‘Tis the season for brandies and vermouths enhanced by seasonal fruit and warm winter spices. Drink up!

Nix72 University Pl.

Nix is a city staple, and for good reason. With ingredients sourced from the Union Square Greenmarket, Nix is at the forefront of local and organic eating. Their cocktail menu rotates approximately every month to keep up with the changing seasons and has a drink for everyone. For a nice taste of winter, try the Plum Cocktail on their daytime menu. With fresh plum, orange citrus, and Lillet Blanc, this special drink is light enough to let the richness of the plum flavor shine. It is garnished with freshly sliced plum and is a nice complement to weekly greenmarket specials like the Pumpkin and Winter Squash Soup or Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sugar Pumpkin, Sarvecchio, and Chestnuts. Other current cocktails at Nix feature cucumber with Contratto bianco & basil leaf or pomegranate with Dolin blanc & fresh lime.

Ellary’s Greens33 Carmine St.

Ellary’s Greens is a lovely concept. With a communal feel and well-rounded menu that appeases any appetite and diet, their commitment to local and organically-sourced ingredients feels accessible and fun. The cocktail menu reflects the same ethos, and their seasonal sangria is sourced as ethically as any dish on their menu. Honestly, it really isn’t the holidays without a glass of red wine sangria with brandy and freshly sliced peach. Ellary’s seasonal sangria is an instant classic. It speaks to a longtime classic with a fresh and sustainable take on tradition. Pair it with their heartwarming blackberry cobbler — also seasonal — to bring out your ultimate holiday sweet tooth.

Candle 79 154 East 79th St.

Candle 79 is defined by its commitment to the quality and ethics in sourcing their ingredients. That principle stands not only for the ingredients used in their food, but right down to the products available behind the bar. All of the components of their Hand-Crafted Eco-Cocktails are ethically sourced from agave to vermouth, and the bottom half of the menu boasts cocktails inspired by the transition between fall and winter. There is something for every kind of cocktail lover on the seasonal menu. The true fan of winter flavors should try the Manhattan Fig, an interesting drink that draws on the potent seasonal flavors of fig and maple without relying on added sweetness. The cocktail consists of fig-infused Catoctin Creek rye, Antica Formula Red vermouth, Foro Dry vermouth, maple bitters, and a twist of orange. The drink is a nice addition to the Wild Mushroom-Butternut Squash Ravioli, a great dish that celebrates harvest season and the coming winter flavors.

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