We are also getting our RDA of vodka in cocktails like the Dirty Martini, with a splash of olive juice, and in sweet Chocolate Martinis, with Stoli Vanilla, Kahlua, and Bailey's; add a splash of espresso, and -- presto! -- you've got yourself an Espresso Martini. "The ladies love 'em," says Ruck, "especially as an after-dinner drink." Meanwhile, over at Erie Bleu, Bee says that Campari, the classic Italian aperitif, is making a comeback, both mixed with soda and as an ingredient in a Campari Martini, with vodka and a splash of grenadine.
As for wine, Chardonnay continues to be popular in the heartland, the bartenders say, although reds -- especially Merlots and Syrahs -- are coming on strong. Australian Shiraz, in particular, is developing a following among Northeast Ohioans. "It's going to be the next Merlot," Rench predicts, "and it's still a good value, too."
So how best to toast the holidays? Bee suggests that either his Dawg Pound (hot chocolate with coconut and berry liqueurs) or Snow Belt (hot coffee with chocolate and mint liqueurs) would make a dandy cold-weather choice, but for Moxie customers, Ruck says, a bottle of Opus One, the ultra-premium, ultra-pricey Napa Valley red made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes, may be the way to go. And then there are the purists. "Personally, I like a bottle of champagne," says Rench. "You really can't do any better than that, now can you?"