Exchange District businesses show off creative warm drinks during week-long event

By: Sam Bell

On Dec. 5, 2022, Hot Beverage Week returned to the Exchange District for its sixth year. The week-long event, organized by the Exchange District BIZ, gave Exchange District bars, cafes, and eateries the opportunity to showcase specially-crafted warm beverages. Patrons then voted online for their favourite drinks on the Exchange District BIZ’s website.

Many local bars, cafes, and breweries close to Red River College Polytechnic’s Exchange District Campus took part in the week, including Harrisons Coffee Co., Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar, and Clementines.

Businesses served up several creative renditions of classic beverages this year, ranging from boozy hot chocolates to virgin cocktails. 

“Supporting local is something everyone should be considering,” said Ian Hamm, a first-year Business Information Technology student at the RRC Polytech.

“So many smaller businesses shut down during the pandemic, which was very unfortunate. It’s our job to help the ones still left to stay afloat,” Hamm said.

RRC Polytech student Kailyn Louka enjoys the Salt & Smoke beverage at Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. The drink was Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar’s entry for Hot Beverage Week 2022. (Sam Bell)

Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar, a specialty cocktail lounge located a few blocks from the Exchange District Campus, crafted beverage called Salt & Smoke for this year’s Hot Beverage Week. 

“We used smoked Chinese black tea and Scottish Laphroaig whisky,” said Mark Turner, owner of Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar.

“We infused the tea with some sugar syrup, sea salt and whisky barrel bitters, which really tied it all together. It’s like a campfire in a cup,” Turner said.

Turner said Hot Beverage Week has slowly gotten bigger and gained more media overage over the last six years.

“Year by year, I’ve seen it grow. I think it’s great for local businesses to get that extra marketing that they might not have been able to afford before,” Turner said. 

Little Brown Jug Brewing Co. (LBJ), located across William Avenue from RRC Polytech’s Exchange District Campus, served up their take on a boozy hot chocolate, called Sugar, Spiked & Everything Nice.

“I would love to see more students come in,” said Cal Cheney, LBJ’s taproom manager.

“Students often come in to grab a grilled cheese or a beer, but I would love for them to come and try our new beverage,” Cheney said.

The winner of this year’s Hot Beverage Week was Cake-ology’s version of a hot chocolate. The drink was made with Milo chocolate-malt powder and dark chocolate, and topped with a leche flan foam.