A rather common saying to describe cold weather is to suggest it’s as cold as a witch’s tit. I have no idea of its origin, but it certainly sums up the current spell.
I’d have dealt with single-digit temperatures better if the minister of weather hadn’t messed with internal thermostats at the end of last week, sneakily cranking it up to a scorching 20ºC. One of the few times I did venture beyond my front door, I saw a handful of nutters out and about in either shorts or a T-shirt, overly ambitious. I wanted to cover those bare white bits with an alpaca blanket or thrust a mug of tea into their chilly mitts. Drink that, fool.
In winter, I do two things: drink tea shipped in from England by globetrotting friends, and dream of fattening English treats I can’t get hold of. Of course, the ultimate tea nightmare is a what if. What if I run out? It isn’t worth thinking about, frankly, so here’s a rundown on the best hot and wet drinks in the city that are keeping me happy (only 55 days until spring officially starts).
A brand-new spot that honestly couldn’t have timed its opening any better is Tatan (Nicaragua 5606). Specializing in chocolate, this cute-as-a-button spot prepares around 400 designer hot choccies in man-size mugs, each as tempting as the last. Today I’ll slip into dark chocolate and almonds, tomorrow white choc and vanilla. Sink back into the extremely comfortable sofa booth, or an adorable bird-print armchair at a slightly more private table, and await your choice. Served on individual wooden boards complete with a little pot of white, milk and dark chocolate buttons to dip into, Tatan’s liquid chocolate is creamy, smooth and comes with shavings on top for good measure. The only thing that could improve on this experience is marshmallows oozing down into the soothing liquid. Jus’ sayin’.
Hanging out in the drafty San Telmo market is not exactly conducive to helping me leave the house, a caffeine injection at Coffee Town (Bolívar 976) is. This cute little love shack of a café is slap bang in the middle of the market, and with caffeine know-how backed up by Argentina’s Centro de Estudios del Café, these coffees are good and strong. Park up at a high table and stool under a heater or substitute gloves with a takeaway cup and sip on the go; you can also choose your beans (from Ethiopia, Colombia or Kenya), and style (French press, espresso). Art also abounds in every cup – creamy toppings are delightfully embossed with the CT logo or a heartwarming smiley face. Heartwarming? It must be the caffeine talking…
A cup of tea, please
Although the Caesar Park Hotel (Posadas 1232) isn’t an immediate go-to spot for high tea, perhaps it should be. First off, chef royalty is in charge of a dazzling patisserie that is so beautifully presented, it’s verging on criminal to even consider weighing in. Beatriz Chomnalez is the tiny energetic lady in charge of the Caesar Park’s five o’clock tea, and the most excellent news is that the sugar intake is not overly high. In fact, she told me that she makes a conscious effort not to make her delectable cakes such as raspberry and frangipane tart or chestnut and ganache opera overly sweet.
Although these desserts are truly worth a visit, the hot and wet stuff is also bang up to par. High priestess of tea leaves Inés Berton has created a special tea menu that includes autumnal delight Bea’s Special Blend, a black tea bursting with pears, cinnamon, cardamom and caramelized apple flavours; or Red Earl Grey, an infusion with a rooibos base and classic Grey bergamot overtones. Transparent teapots are also gorgeous creations; watch the leaves go through the motions to make a decent, warming cuppa.
No hot drinks list would be complete without a boozy beverage, and Fede Cuco, owner of new cocktail spot Verne Cocktail Club (Medrano 1475), is the master mixer to make it. Known as a pop-up guest bartender around the city, Cuco has also helped place Cynar on the local cocktail map. However, his super-strong hot toddy doesn’t touch the artichoke-based aperitif. Infusing lemon juice, honey, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a pan, he then adds in either rum or whiskey. Once it boils, Cuco then serves it in a soup bowl, garnished with a cinnamon stick. A potent fusion, it will definitely warm you up; the question is whether you’ll remember.