With colder weather on the horizon, some Duluth restaurants and breweries are adjusting their menus to include a fall flavor.
It’s not pumpkin spice — it’s chai. And local businesses are embracing it as many see the spice as a warm and comforting for the area’s cold, long winters.
Chai comes in various forms, but the common fall-centered flavor includes spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and black peppercorns.
Duluth Cider is one local business bringing a chai product just as the weather turns brisk. On Friday, it re-released its chai cider — a drink that people ask for year-round.
“It just became a staple of what we wanted to offer in the cold-weather months, which is most of them,” said Jake Scott, co-owner of Duluth Cider.
They steeped their chai blend (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) in cider that’s made from locally grown apples. The spices are then removed, and the cider is carbonated and served, Scott said.
“When you think of the fall and the winter, (you think of) comforting flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. They really come out in this chai cider,” he said. “Mixing those with apple just makes … a really comforting blend that's really easy to drink — especially when it starts getting colder out.”
The cider was created when Scott and his wife and co-owner, Valerie Scott were living in New England and playing around with flavors. “It just tasted delicious. It was, like, the best cider we had ever tried,” he said.
Its chai cider is available in pints, flights and growlers at its Lincoln Park taproom. And, Scott said, it will later become available at select local restaurants and bars. But it’s only around for the fall and a few winter months.
People also know to head to At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe for chai drinks — both as coffee and liquor concoctions.
Carey Kasapidis, front-of-the-house manager for the cafe, said while the flavor is perfect for fall, they offer chai drinks year-round.
Its Drunken Chai beverage — that’s served hot in the winter and cold during the summer — is made of chai tea, milk, dark rum and coffee liqueur. And it’s taste? “Delicious,” Kasapidis said.
There’s also a Chai Martini, made of a chai mixture, vodka and lemon juice.
“(Customers) constantly tell us how delicious it is — and usually order another one,” she said.
Partnering with local herbal farmer Anahata Herbals, the cafe also serves a boba chai tea year-round.
“There's just a large demand for chai products, and we try to intertwine all of our different products throughout the restaurant. We try to take things that people like on the coffee side and turn them into beverages that can be enjoyed on the bar as well,” Kasapidis said.
The madeleines will join the project’s slate of other bakery goodies that are available at other local restaurants and coffee shops, as well.
The Snooty Fox Tea Shop is another supplier of local chai tea, which can be ordered online. While it has various chai tea flavors, numerous other flavors are also fall-centered.
And if you just can't get past your craving for pumpkin spice, the tea shop also offers a pumpkin spice black chai for online purchase.