Like any red-blooded American, Gut Check uses liquid medication to cope with holiday stress. Not only does a good winter cocktail make it possible to tolerate family members, say, inquiring about your procreation plans, it helps keep you warm, too. From now until Christmas, we're calling upon local drink-slingers to suggest great cocktails to get you through the season. Some of them are holiday-themed, some traditional, some not so much, but they all share one common thread: delicious potency.
There's a point during the holidays when you're delicately munching on pecans or taking a respectable portion of white-meat turkey and you think, "I'm actually doing all right, calorie-wise." Conveniently erased are the memories of devouring an entire gingerbread village Godzilla-style while throwing back shots of sticky, sounds-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time peppermint schnapps.
That's when it's time for a Cinnamontini from Aya Sofia (6671 Chippewa Street; 314-645-9919), a drink that seems comparatively good for you, while keeping your holiday buzz aglow.
Even in December Aya Sofia is warm: The smallish bar area with a dozen or so seats is awash in reds and oranges, and the greeting you'll get from the staff is nothing short of familial. The Cinnamontini -- a mix of cinnamon-infused vodka, Cointreau, fresh-squeezed orange juice and cranberry juice -- fits right in. The cheery citrus and cinnamon softens the spike of vodka, resulting in something that's surprisingly reminiscent of a cold chai tea. It's utterly drinkable -- dangerously so, if you're not careful -- and pulls off the feat of being a cold drink that has the ability to warm from within.
2 ounces cinnamon-infused vodka (Aya Sofia uses Smirnoff that's been infused with cinnamon sticks for two days)
.5 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounce cranberry juice
Splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice
Garnish with orange peel