The winter season is a bit of a dichotomy. It’s a time for the holidays—that is a joy to some and a headache to others. And for those who love shopping, it spurs an occasion for blissful gift buying. But, for those who dislike crowds, the obligatory store-hopping is not something pleasurable.
Winter’s a time for winter sport excitement, but also back-breaking snow shoveling. The chill of winter encourages making cozy wood fires; yet it’s also a time for splitting and gathering wood.
And then there’s the merriment of choosing a yuletide tree—coupled with who wants a small one and who wants one to reach the ceiling. It’s an opportunity for hibernation and curling up and reading that best-seller, but also when the kids get winter break.
However, one thing is certain. Winter is definitely a time for some self-pampering. So get out of your comfort zone after wrapping those gifts or stacking that wood. After all the compulsory responsibilities of the holiday season, isn’t it time to treat yourself to some guilty pleasures?
So VISITvortex has listed some of the most blissful indulgences around—from heavenly desserts to beverages certain to raise your spirits—guaranteed to make your holiday season merry and bright!
The best indulgences and where to get them:
Asia Restaurant– A Mai Tai is a favorite and the most popular drink to bring holiday cheer to the table. Mouth-watering white rum, dark rum, pineapple and orange juice, amaretto, and triple set orange liqueur. Stone Ridge. asiastoneridge.com; 845-687-9800.
Barnaby’s Steak House – Decadently smooth and creamy Homemade Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake—topped off with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry garnish. What better way to end a holiday meal? New Paltz. barnabyssteakhouse.com; 845-255-2433.
Bacchus Restaurant and Bar – The High Spirit Cocktail is the go-to drink for raising the spirits during the holidays. The spicy bite of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Rittenhouse 100 rye is perfectly balanced with a citrusy flair of lime and pineapple juice, pumpkin ale syrup, and a dash of Angostura Bitters. New Paltz. bacchusnewpaltz.com; 845-255-8636.
Bear Café – Sweet and Spicy Mulled Wine is, undeniably, a “sit and sip” by a warm holiday fire type of beverage. The warmed mulled red wine is spiced with cloves, cinnamon, fresh orange, and a touch of nutmeg. Combined with a little brandy and Grand Marnier it’s sure to make the holidays quite memorable. Woodstock. bearcafe.com; 845-679-5555.
The Big Cheese – Give your taste buds a gift for the holidays and stop in for Maria’s Mascarpone Treat. Especially for those who savor the naturally sweet, creamy texture of this celebrated Italian cheese. This delish delight is a dessert in a cup crested with the contrasting crunch of walnuts and a thick coating of pure local maple syrup. Rosendale. facebook.com/pages/The-Big-Cheese; 845-658-7175.
Bistro to Go – The French traditional Yule Log called Bouche De Noel is a virtual holiday celebration within a lusciously, lavish dessert. Shaped and textured like a Yule Log, this flourless, chocolate cake is rolled up with a chocolate whipped cream filling. Kingston. bluemountainbistro.com; 845-340-9800.
Cheese Barrel – Head straight to the Espresso Cappuccino bar to kick off the holidays with a warming medley of savory flavors—from French Vanilla and Raspberry to Kahlua and Irish Cream. Or try a favorite Chai Latte and remember that calories don’t count during the season of cheer… so combine your beverage with a delectable slice of pie for complete fulfillment. Margaretville. cheesebarrel.com; 845-586-4666.
China Rose Restaurant – The Nutcracker is a seasonal cocktail that instills the holiday spirit to the max. This warm and tasty beverage is a blend of Frangelico, Crème de Cocoa, cream, and Bacardi 151 with a cinnamon dusting. Served chilled—but evokes a warm and cozy way to celebrate. Rhinecliff. chinaroserestaurant.com; 845-876-7442.
Diamond Mills – Master Baker Andrew Comey serves up the Baked Alaska Buche de Noel this holiday season. Chocolate mint ice cream rolled in a light yellow sponge cake & meringue. Photo credit: Lindsay Yandon. Saugerties. diamondmillshotel.com; 845-247-0700.
Dominick’s – A novel twist on classic lemonade—the Canadian Steamed House-Made Lemonade served up freshly steamed in a cappuccino machine. Transforms lemonade from a warm weather beverage into a delightful drink that takes the chill out of the winter holidays. Kingston. dominickscafe.com; 845-338-4552.
Friends and Family II Hillside Restaurant – Denise said that her favorite holiday dessert is Chocolate Amaretto Terrine. It's a creamy chocolate almond flavored dessert that's wrapped up in dark chocolate ganache served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and homemade strawberry sauce. It's a little slice of heaven! Accord. friendsandfamily2.com; 845-626-7777.
Gomen Kudasai – Youko definitely recommends her exclusive Kanten vegan dessert for seasonal celebrations. Called Kabocha Yokan, this delight is expertly cooked with sweet pumpkin and agar agar seaweed presenting a smooth, jello-like texture complemented with a crunchy topping of roasted organic walnuts. This mouth-watering treat is wheat and dairy-free and cannot be found elsewhere! New Paltz. gknoodles.com; 845-255-8811.
Henry's at Buttermilk Falls – Their fresh Apple Cider Martini will warm up your taste buds even though this straight-up vodka special is served chilled. Brings cheers to the holidays. Milton. henrysatbuttermilk.com; 845-795-1500.
High Falls Cafe – For something different and delish—try a Pomegranate Cosmo with pomegranate vodka, Pama, lime, and cranberry. This drink certainly brings in a citrusy celebration. High Falls. highfallscafe.com; 845-687-2699.
Lucky Chocolates – Liquid Truffle is a sweet treat of heavy cream and chocolate heated and whipped together then topped with fresh cool whipped cream and shards of dark chocolate. Delightfully devoured with a spoon out of a small china cup—a definite mood-altering holiday experience! Saugerties. luckychocolates.com; 845-246-7337.
Moxie Cupcake – Get ready for the Twelve Cupcakes of Christmas mini-box. With 12 different mini holiday cupcakes including flavors such as White Christmas: Eggnog rum cake made with local organic eggnog; Gingerbread Boy: 5 spice gingerbread cake; Partridge in a Pear Tree: spiced pear champagne; and Feliz Navidad: spicy cinnamon chocolate. It comes packaged in a window box with festive ribbon. Josie says they also do a Hanukkah box! New Paltz. moxiecupcake.com; 845-225-2253.
Northern Spy – A cheerful seasonal beverage, suggested by George, is named Winter by Trial. It’s a warm bourbon drink perfect for making chilly days into warm holiday celebrations. northernspyfoodco.com; 845-687-7298.
Peekamoose Restaurant – “Hands down, the most popular cold-weather dessert is our Steamed Pumpkin Pudding,” said Mary Beth. Made in the tradition of an English pudding it’s richly flavored with classic pumpkin pie spices and fresh, local RSK Farm pumpkins. This steamed cake is extravagantly moist and light and topped with a cider caramel and whipped cream. Guests make some interesting sounds from sheer delight at its texture and flavor. Big Indian. peekamooserestaurant.com; 845-254-6500.
Phoenix Restaurant – Chef Mike believes a classy cocktail next to a favorite childhood dessert is what holidays are all about. The special Ginger Blingtini made with Hudson Valley Apple Vodka spiced up with cinnamon Schnapps, fresh ginger slices, and ginger ale is fun and local. Garnished with a rim of sugar cinnamon and ginger powder, this beverage is a perfect mate to an Apple-Blueberry Ginger Crumb. It’s an adult way to celebrate the holidays with a twist of youthful memories. Mt. Tremper. emersonresort.com/dining-at-the-emerson-1/the-phoenix; 877-688-2828.
Puccini – The Italian way to celebrate…Napolitano Struffoli! This delish dessert marries citrusy cheer to sweet and succulent satiation. It’s a mound of spheres made of lemon-orange zest and limoncello liqueur drenched with honey and crowned with confectionary sugar and holiday sprinkles. Rhinebeck. puccinirhinebeck.com; 845-876-3055.
Rock & Rye Tavern – All the best flavors of the holidays in one glass! The exclusive Apple Daisy cocktail made with un-aged tequila, fresh local cider, Clement Creole Shrub (a delightful orange liqueur), fresh lemon juice, cinnamon tincture, and orange bitters. Served on the rocks…it’s a celebration in itself! New Paltz. rockandrye.com; 845-255-7888.
Savona’s Trattoria – Ring in the season with a Pumpkin Spice Martini. Stoli Vanilla Vodka, pumpkin spice liquor, Godiva liquor, and heavy cream with a pinnacle of nutmeg spiced whipped cream. It’s like eating a spiked pumpkin! Kingston. savonas.com; 845-339-6800.
Sportsman's Alamo Cantina – Salute the holiday season with The Pumpkin Spice Martini, served straight up with Vanilla Vodka, Pumpkin Crème Liqueur, a tasty hint of Bailey’s, and a cinnamon sprinkling. It’s the perfect après-ski way to warm up after a day of winter activity. Phoenicia. alamocantina.com; 845-688-5370.
Terrapin – A Holiday Mojito is a classic, but this one is warmed up with cider and spices for holiday cheer. The white rum, mint, and lime juice is blended with local apple cider and brandy infused with cinnamon and star anise. Topped off with a brown sugar rim and a cinnamon stick, this is the supreme seasonal sweet treat. Rhinebeck. terrapinrestaurant.com; 255-876-3330.
Tuthillhouse at the Mills Restaurant – The Local Hudson Baby Bourbon Cider Smash is a seasonal smash for sure—with a holiday cinnamon stick garnish. Served either over ice or hot for a real warm up for those chilly holiday eves. Gardiner. tuthillhouse.com; 845-255-4151.