Southern Brooklyn

Anyway Cafe: Hot Wine – The Bite

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Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

After an uneventful evening of long meetings, flavored rum samplings and cold rain dodging, a hot drink was in order. But what and where? Coffee and tea were out. I craved something stronger. Grog – that’s the ticket. It’s exactly what was called for on this dreary evening.

Enter Anyway Cafe (111 Oriental Blvd, Manhattan Beach) If any place in the neighborhood was going to offer grog, Anyway Cafe would be it. Ned and I sat down and immediately confused our waitress by ordering grog. She had no idea what we were looking for, so we asked for mulled wine which deepened her confusion. Finally, after some back and forth, she offered hot wine – which was exactly what we were looking for. Hot wine infused with spices and fruit juices.

Ned and I smugly sat back and discussed our waitress’ naivety about wine, whether or not the term grog was used in the Russian community, or if she was just some special case. It turns out that grog is not mulled wine, or even hot wine for that matter. Grog is a rum drink. We’re the “special” cases. Our bad.

According to the Royal Navy, inventors of grog, grog is a mixture of high proof rum and water. Legend has it that 18th Century British Admiral Edward Vernon, nicknamed Old Grog for the grogram fabric cloak he wore, created grog as a way to preserve the drinking water on ships. Some claim that the term grog itself is a derogatory term reflecting the sailors’ dissatisfaction with the new drink. They wanted the pure rum they were getting before!

So, we weren’t drinking grog, but instead we were consuming mulled wine, or hot wine as it’s labeled at Anyway Cafe. For $8 we were served a glass of steaming hot Paul Mason red wine that was infused with cinnamon, clove and what tasted like apple juice. There may have been something else in the wine; many recipes for mulled wine add vanilla, but I didn’t detect any of that here. I guess it’s not far to compare Anyway Cafe’s hot wine to mulled wine as they don’t claim that it is mulled wine, but it’s darn close.

The hot wine was an enjoyable change from the drinks I normally consume. To be honest, I’m not much of a wine drinker and I know very little about wine. All I know is that I liked this and I bet you will, too.

Anyway Cafe, 111 Oriental Blvd, Manhattan Beach (718) 648-3906

Anyway Cafe on Urbanspoon

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