Hip Sips


Tastes Like Velvet

    If you go to Europe this holiday season and find yourself in Germany on a chill winter’s night (or day as there is no “bewitching hour” restriction), expect to find glühwein on the drinks menu. The mulled red wine spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, sometimes nutmeg and lemon rind, and served hot, is standard winter drinks fare.
    If you’re staying home and want to make like you’re in Germany, head for Speisekammer on Lincoln Avenue. Through December, Peter Kahl, owner of the popular Germany eatery with his wife, Cindy, will be brewing up large pots of the sweet and spicy drink and serving it in coffee cups. Aware that some of his customers like to enjoy the warmth and conviviality associated with glühwein at home, Kahl makes up little take-out spice packets of his special recipe and includes how-to instructions.
    For those of us who like our drinks cold, regardless of the season, the Speisekammer Velvet Hammer ($7), white and snowy-in-the-glass, is a tempting holiday option. Described on the cocktail menu as “liquid dessert with a kick,” the name describes the taste (velvet) and the effect (one too many and you’ll feel hammered; a few too many and you’ll feel hammers in your head come morning).
    The Velvet Hammer, more American than German but exotically delicious, combines vanilla vodka, white crème de cacao and a dash of fresh cream. It is shaken and served in a martini glass, with a sprinkling of chocolate. Light and creamy, with a melted-white-chocolate flavor, it is rich and sweet enough to qualify as dessert and packs a kick—and having one doesn’t mean you have to give up on the glühwein!

Speisekammer, 2424 Lincoln Ave., open for dinner 5 p.m–9 p.m. Tue.–Thu., 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m.–9 p.m. Sun.; serves lunch noon–3 p.m. Fri.–Sun. (510) 522-1300, www.speisekammer.com.                                          

—Wanda Hennig
—Photography by Paul Skrentny

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