Omaha winters suck.
They are cold. They are gray. The dirty snow piles up on the dirty curbs. The entire city bundles in scarves and coats and hurries hunched through grocery store parking lots. We silently curse the wind. We silently curse ourselves for not living in !$%^&!^@$8#$ Palm Springs.
Or maybe I’m projecting.
Anyway, winter is bad. So when a proverbial ray of sunshine peeks through the proverbial clouds and melts the proverbial dirty snow, we need to celebrate it. We need to hold it aloft to the heavens and praise its wondrousness.
And in the case of a cocktail named The Hazy Shade of Winter, we need to drink it.
This is the first in a series of Omaha cocktail recommendations I have given the brilliant name “Matthew Sez to Drink This.” When I drink a drink I love, I’m gonna yell about it. Then, if you know what’s good for you, you are going to go drink it, too.
First up is this wintry wonder from Dante. It’s an original cocktail created by bartender Paul Foss and currently on the menu at everyone’s favorite West Omaha pizza-and-pasta restaurant.
I have long suspected that Dante actually might be the best place to get a good drink in West Omaha, and the Hazy Shade of Winter seems to confirm those suspicions.
The Hazy Shade of Winter looks like a pretty little thing when you receive it. It’s sort of greyish-pink, or orangey-brown. Honestly I don’t know what color it is. I’m bad at colors.
The drink is made with rosemary-infused gin, cranberry syrup, Luxardo, lemon juice and egg white. Justin Gilmore, the director of operations at Dante and its East Omaha sister restaurant Forno, described it to me as a “very slightly savory gin sour” and I think that’s as good a description as any.
The cranberry and Luxardo mellow the drink’s acidity and the rosemary in the gin. The end result is a cocktail that is both interesting and easy to drink. It’s a warm winter hug.
This has been on the cocktail menu at Dante since November, when Foss thought the rosemary-infused gin reminded him of Thanksgiving. So it’s not going to be around much longer.
The actual temperatures will warm. The last of the dirty snow will melt. The sun, the real one, will shine. And the Hazy Shade of Winter will be gone, at least until next year, when we’re hiding underneath coats and hurrying hunched through parking lots and wondering about the price of a plane ticket to Palm Springs.
So try it now. It’s guaranteed to improve your sucky Omaha winter.