March 20 marked the first official day of spring, and for Alaskans that means we are finally through winter and long sunny days are on the horizon. As warmer temperatures take over, visitors and locals are drawn outside to enjoy the sun, and one of the best ways to warm up from a mountainous hike, brisk ski or snowy bike ride is by stepping back inside to sip on a delicious cocktail in the company of good friends.
Alaska is an active participant in the growing microbrewing trend, but in the last couple of years has also started tapping into the market of distilled drinks, producing unique selections like smoked salmon vodka, birch syrup vodka, berry and even a fireweed vodka that touts a slight flavor similar to that of the southern honeysuckle flower. Delicious on their own over ice, these spirits make for excellent cocktails and can be found, served Alaska style, in bars across the state.
About 60 miles northeast of the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center, the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs features an ice bar that serves the 21-and-over crowd delicious appletinis in martini glasses made entirely of ice. We highly recommend paying a visit to the ice bar after a long soak in the steaming waters of the hot springs.
Want to try your hand at an Alaska-inspired cocktail? Here are two recipes – savory and sweet – borrowed from the Alaska Distillery website. Or, on your next visit to Westmark Hotels, ask your bartender to show you what Alaska-style cocktails are all about.
The Alaska Bloody Mary
1 teaspoon horseradish
4 splashes Tabasco®
2 ounces Smoked Salmon Vodka
2 ounces Clamato® Juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Pepper to taste
Worcestershire Sauce to taste
Pinch of Old Bay® Spice
Pinch of celery salt
Directions: Pour over ice in a large glass, garnish with olive and a piece of Alaska smoked salmon.
High Octane Moose Milk*
2 ounces Birch Syrup Vodka
1 ounce coffee liqueur
Directions: Pour vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes, top off with light cream, and pour in a little (or a lot!) of chocolate syrup. Top with whipped cream.
*Slightly less dangerous than milking a moose. Please drink responsibly.