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Winter Mints

December has arrived, and with it comes a flurry of festive flavors to tickle your taste buds. Whether you're cozying up by the fire or listening to holiday music on your morning commute, we’ve got a peppermint pleasure that’s sure to freshen up your day. Keep reading for seven delicious delights that’ll sleigh your senses.

Mocha Madness
The streets might not be iced with snow, but the cupcakes at Icing on the Cupcake are as iced and delectable as ever. Though you can enjoy the cupcakery’s treats any time of year, they pull out all the stops in winter with specialty flavors like the beloved Peppermint Mocha Cupcake. The sweet dessert starts with a coffee cupcake to give you a much-needed boost of energy on slow, chilly days; then it’s topped with chocolate and peppermint frosting (the ultimate Christmastime combo), with chocolate shavings and a crushed candy cane garnish. Get one for yourself or a dozen to share! 6839 Lonetree Boulevard, Rocklin; 330 Palladio Parkway, Suite 2027, Folsom, 916-303-4333,

Peppermint Mocha Cupcake


So Matcha Peppermint
Coffee may get a lot of glory during wintertime, but don’t worry, we saved a spot on our list for all the tea aficionados out there. In fact, what more could you ask for than a cup of peppermint tea, especially if you need to clear up your sinuses and energize your senses? For one of our favorites, check out Tea Xotics in El Dorado Hills. If you love their Coconut Grass Skirt (premium Japanese matcha, coconut milk, and cane sugar), we recommend adding a pump of peppermint syrup for an extra pep in your step. More of a chocolate lover? Order the Snow White Matcha (a premium blend of Japanese matcha, coconut milk, and Ghirardelli white chocolate) with a pump of peppermint syrup. 4356 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 112, El Dorado Hills, 916-461-3548,

Snow White Matcha


Cozy Up with Cold Foam
Like peanut butter goes with jelly, coffee goes with cold weather. There’s nothing like a rich cup of joe to warm up your senses and get you in the seasonal spirit. Want to make your daily coffee break even better? Reach for a Peppermint Bark Mocha the next time you’re at Coffee Republic. The hot cocoa meets espresso mocha gets kicked up a notch with peppermint cold foam, a lightly sweetened frothed milk that sits atop coffee drinks like a cloud. But the folks at Coffee Republic make theirs even merrier with peppermint flavor and a happy flurry of peppermint candy sprinkles. 6610 Folsom-Auburn Road, Suite 2, Folsom, 916-987-8001,

Peppermint Bark Mocha


Double Truffle
Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory—which recently celebrated 60 years of candy-making—has no shortage of wintry confections to get your mouth watering. From one-pound chocolate Santas to holiday boxes, there’s something for every sweet tooth on your list. But if we had to pick one star of the show, we’re shouting out their Peppermint Truffle. Velvety smooth, the 72% dark chocolate confectionery (made with fresh cream, butter, and pure peppermint oil) is coated with a crown of white chocolate and crushed candy cane crystals that’ll dissolve in your mouth like snowflakes. Talk about a perfect, palate-pleasing stocking stuffer. 731 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-985-0620,

Peppermint Truffle


Carol of Cookies
The man with the bag isn’t the only one who gets to enjoy milk and cookies this time of year. If you’re looking for a minty twist on your favorite dessert, check out Rebel Hen Café. This charming, locally owned eatery in Lincoln serves up fresh trays of Chocolate Peppermint Cookies daily. Warm, gooey, and gigantic, with peppermint and white chocolate chips in every bite, we recommend ordering a glass of ice-cold milk for dunking or doubling down on the chocolate with a mug of hot cocoa (marshmallows and fluffy whipped cream not optional!). 436 Lincoln Boulevard, Suite 102, Lincoln, 530-602-9513,

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies


Donut Stop Believin’
Experience a winter wonderland of flavors with a Peppermint Crumble Donut at Shorty’s Gelato & Bakery. These tree-shaped treats with a luscious peppermint glaze and peppermint candy crumble are entirely scratch-made—from the heavenly brioche donut to the peppermint syrup—making them one seasonal delight you donut want to miss. Add a dozen of ‘em to your wish list—and thank us later. 1216 Broadway, Suite A, Placerville, 530-316-1166,

Peppermint Crumble Donut


Naughty or Nice
While Santa is making his list and checking it twice, why not sit back, relax, and sip on something sweetly strong at Bacchus House? Their seasonal Naughty or Nice martini will make your cheeks rosy, thanks to candy cane vodka, vanilla simple syrup, half and half, and white crème de cacao mixed to icy perfection. The decadently dangerous dessert-in-a-glass is the ideal nightcap after a day of shopping. 1004 East Bidwell Street, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-984-7500,

Naughty or Nice


by Pauline Arroyo

Wine Wonderland: 4 Must-Buy Bottles

2020 Pinot Noir
PRICE: $42.27
AVAILABLE AT: Wise Villa Winery, 200 Wise Road, Lincoln, 916-543-0323,
Food-friendly, elegant, and complex, Wise Villa’s pinot rises above the rest. Awarded “Best of Class Appellation” at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, oenophiles will adore its lush finish and layered flavors of cherry, strawberry, clove, herbs, vanilla, tea leaves, and dried roses.

2020 Pinot Noir


2021 Natoma Old Vine Zinfandel
PRICE: $65
AVAILABLE AT: Willamette Wineworks, 824 Sutter Street, Suite 200
Folsom, 916-542-7417,
Full-bodied and fruity, this newly released Zin features flavors of plum that carry through to deep cherry, nutmeg, cinnamon, and coriander spice. Sip it alongside both savory (stews, pizza, ribs) and sweet (chocolate) dishes and a crackling fire, or gift it to a special wine lover in your life.

2021 Natoma Old Vine Zinfandel


2020 Papa Romano Red
PRICE: $40
AVAILABLE AT: Via Romano Vineyards, 2875 Larsen Drive, Camino, 530-269-9463,
A heartfelt homage to the winery owner’s beloved father, this velvety smooth, Tuscan style-blend (34% aglianico, 33% dolcetto, 33% primitivo)—and gold medal winner at the Monterey International Wine Competition—will greet your senses with aromas of sun-dried currants, luscious cherries, and succulent strawberries, accompanied by undertones of cherry, rich cacao, and invigorating black tea.

2020 Papa Romano Red


2019 Sentivo Primitivo
PRICE: $40
AVAILABLE AT: Sentivo Vineyards & Winery, 7460 Fairplay Road, Somerset, 916-936-3306,
Warm up with this well-structured, robust, and deeply rich wine—awarded 95 points and “Best Primitivo” at the Las Vegas Global Wine Awards. Each comforting, indulgent sip offers a hint of spice and velvety mouthfeel. Enjoy it while preparing a hearty meal or serve it mulled at a seasonal soirée.

2019 Sentivo Primitivo


Sentivo Mulled Wine

•    1 bottle of 2019 Sentivo Primitivo
•    1/4 cup brandy
•    1 orange, sliced into rounds (also peeled, if you want a less-bitter drink)
•    8 whole cloves
•    2 cinnamon sticks, plus more to garnish
•    2 star anise, plus more to garnish
•    2-4 tbsp. sugar, to taste (or sweetener of choice)
•    Orange slices, to garnish
Combine wine, brandy, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and 2 tbsp. sweetener to a large saucepan. Simmer on medium-high heat until it just barely reaches a simmer. (Avoid letting it bubble—you don’t want to boil off the alcohol.) Reduce heat to low, cover, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove and discard the orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Taste, and stir in extra sweetener (if needed). Serve warm in heatproof mugs with orange slices.

photos by Taylor Allred

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