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Unique Winter “Cheers” in Happy Valley

While it’s true that a draught of stronger stuff may not fend off the winter wind—in fact, alcohol can lower your body temperature— you may want to trek to your favorite cozy inn for something to break up the monotony of the cold and snow.

Fortunately, some of the taverns of Happy Valley offer spirits that go beyond the norm, such as unique libations to celebrate the season and warm your spirits, if not actually your body.

The Elk Creek Café in Millheim is already one of our favorite locations for farm-to-table fare, but it’s also an established boutique brewery with some notable offerings.

“Oh, Tim has big plans for this winter,” Genny Uhl, assistant general manager of the Elk Creek said, speaking of Café brewmaster Tim Yarrington. “We have plenty of new things on tap and quite a few ‘beer-centric’ events coming up.”

Tim talks about brewing with the reverence of a true beer believer, but seemed most excited about their new beers aged in bourbon barrels.

“When you age a beer in a bourbon saturated barrel, it infuses the beer with some of the essence of the bourbon. It can add a certain smoothness, sometimes with tones of vanilla and a little more alcohol content,” Tim said.

On December 2nd, the Elk Creek will be celebrate the repealing of prohibition with an event featuring period costumes, an authentic still on display, live music, and “all that jazz.”

Tim also looks forward to the “Day of Darkness” on December 23rd, which celebrates the darkest days and longest nights of the year. Elk Creek will be offering five varieties of black beer which “don’t tend to get that kind of spotlight, so that will be an interesting opportunity for real enthusiasts,” Tim said.

In 2012, Elk Creek Café worked with Zeno’s Pub to celebrate with a unique Zeno’s 40th Anniversary Black Ale, an “up front and assertive blend with the characteristics of a black beer.”

“Dave Staab from Zeno’s said he wanted the beer equivalent of an espresso with a twist of lemon,” Tim said.

Meanwhile, the Tavern Restaurant in downtown State College has the perfect solution to a cold winter’s night—a roaring fire in their popular bar area, known as the Adam’s Apple, and just a little bit of sin.

Eric Tishler, manager of the Tavern Restaurant, told us that people come to the Adam’s Apple from all over the area to try their unique liquid creation, the Original Sin.

“People love it. It’s definitely a fan favorite,” Ishler said. “We serve hundreds on football weekends.”

The patented cocktail includes brandy, cherry brandy, cherry schnapps, triple sec, sours and soda water, topped off with a little champagne. The result is a sweet drink, enjoyed equally by male and female tavern goers, that packs a punch close to a Long Island Iced Tea.

The Autoport Restaurant, just off of South Atherton in State College, has its own panacea to the winter blues with new seasonal martinis.

Robert Monzillo, manager of the Autoport, told us that when patrons are gathered on the outside deck warming themselves by the fire pit, the pumpkin pie martini seems to be among the favorites.

“It’s really pretty popular around the holidays,” Robert said.

“We use Three Olives Vodka, vanilla Crème De Cocoa chocolate liquor, fresh cream, and pumpkin puree. It really does taste like pumpkin pie—and, after a few, you may start to feel like a pumpkin.”

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