So often a new year starts with restraint after the excesses of the holidays. Some like the orderliness of booze-free “dry” January, while others take the “damp” approach where imbibing modestly — perhaps choosing lower-ABV drinks or indulging on weekends instead of nightly. It all squares nicely with that renewed commitment to the gym. But here, upstate, a sustained forecast of cold temps, ice and snow makes hunkering down by a fire — glass of wine or a bourbon in hand — an enticing idea.
So instead of going with the crowd, I’m taking a different tack with three variations of an old fashioned you can find in the Capital Region, each bringing out the flavors of a New York winter in toasted, roasted and even birch tree forms. I figure, if we can make it through the doldrums of late January and February, we might be ready for non-alcoholic drinks once the shortest, darkest days are behind us, and we can count the days until spring.