20 Cold Weather Cocktails With a Contemporary Twist
Hot toddies and other cold weather tipples are comforting on frigid days (Jan. 11 has even been designated Hot Toddy Day). Stock the bar with a few essentials and you can whip up a batch of drinks without having to brave the weather or pay top dollar. There are plenty of great spirits for $20 or less a bottle, making the cost for each 1-ounce serving less than $1. Even premium spirits that retail for $50 a bottle end up costing just $2 an ounce. Combined with mixers and other pantry staples, they make a variety of warming drinks for less than $5 -- a bargain compared with the cost at restaurants and bars. We've rounded up 20 of the most inventive and tempting warm cocktails of the season from top brands and bartenders to enjoy from the comfort of home.
Related: Love Chocolate? 10 Places You Have to Try the Hot Cocoa
This play on a hot toddy developed by acclaimed mixologist Kevin Denton for Glenlivet uses the brand's Founder's Reserve for a powerfully flavored base. Stir together 1.5 ounces of Scotch, 0.75 ounce white vermouth, and 0.25 ounce elderflower liqueur in a heat-resistant mug. Add 3 ounces hot chamomile tea and garnish with dried chamomile flowers (optional). The vermouth and elderflower liqueur lend a light sweetness that enhances the natural floral elements of the chamomile tea.
This seasonal spiked hot cocoa gets a sweet, subtle heat from Kahlúa's new chili-chocolate liqueur, making an adult version of Mexican hot chocolate a super-easy two-ingredient recipe: Pour 2 parts hot chocolate over 1 part Kahlúa Chili Chocolate. Top with powdered chili if desired.
This spiced hot cider recipe from Vdka 6100 is a lighter version of traditional spiked cider made with brown spirits. Heat 2 ounces apple cider, 0.5 ounce Grade A maple syrup, 0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice, one cinnamon stick, and one star anise, stirring frequently. Add 1.5 ounces vodka and heat for another minute. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg (optional) and serve.
This coffee cocktail from mixologist Willy Shine is sweet and warming, thanks to the layers of spice in Jägermeister and a homemade simple syrup made with equal parts brown sugar to water with vanilla extract to taste. Making syrups is a cheap way to enhance the flavor of homemade drinks and make them your own. For this one, combine 1 ounce Jägermeister, 0.5 ounce Hans Reisetbauer Hazelnut Eau de Vie, and 0.5 ounce vanilla and brown-sugar syrup in a mug. Add 3 to 4 ounces of hot chicory coffee. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and a dust of cinnamon.
This powerful drink from Erick Castro of Soda & Swine in San Diego appeals to those who prefer strong and bitter cocktails, tempered by sweet and boozy vermouth. Like a traditional toddy, this will clear the sinuses and relieve some of the discomfort of the common cold. Start by making cinnamon simple syrup: Bring four cinnamon sticks, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Combine 0.75 ounce of the cinnamon syrup with 0.5 ounce Campari, 0.5 ounce Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, and 1 ounce sweet vermouth in a mug and top with boiling water. Garnish with an orange slice.
This hot mocha cocktail is the brainchild of acclaimed bartender Damian Windsor. Indulgent hot cocoa is spiked with aged Patrón tequila and Patrón coffee. Start by making traditional cocoa, heating 0.75 cup of milk and 0.25 circle of Chocolate Abuelita in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix continuously with a wire whisk until the mixture is frothy and starts to simmer. Remove from heat and add 1.5 ounces Patrón Añejo and 0.5 ounce Patrón XO Café Incendio to taste. Pour into a warmed mug. Float thickened cream on top and dust with fresh grated cinnamon (optional).
Horchata, a traditional Mexican drink made from sweetened rice milk with a hint of cinnamon, is the base of this cocktail from Blue Nectar Tequila. Blue Nectar infuses its tequilas with spices and agave syrup for round flavors that work well in cocktails like this one. Combine 2 ounces Blue Nectar Reposado Extra or Añejo Founder's Blend, 0.75 ounce orange liqueur, 0.25 ounce Allspice Dram, and 3 ounces warm horchata in a mug. Stir and garnish with grated nutmeg.
Flavored vodkas make it especially easy to turn a hot beverage into a warming cocktail with just a splash. UV Vodka's Salty Caramel Vodka works well in coffee and tea during the winter, and as a mixer for this unique twist on hot apple cider. Simply add 1 ounce of the vodka to 3 ounces of hot apple cider and stir.
Hot toddies are part medicine, part cocktail, and all delicious. This version uses Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey to create a smooth and soothing drink. The recipe is vague on amounts to allow for customization. Combine 1 part Jack Daniel's Old No. 7, a spoonful of honey, a cinnamon stick, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice in a heavy mug, top with boiling water, and stir.
Switching the base of a classic hot toddy works surprisingly well with most spirits. Using tequila in place of the traditional bourbon adds a fresh and lively kick. Cimarron tequila is one of the best-rated values year after year, and offers blanco, reposado, and añejo versions, all of which are suitable for toddies. Combine 1.5 ounces with 1 tablespoon honey, the juice of half a lemon, and a cinnamon stick in a mug, top with boiling water, and stir.
This warming drink combines the best of all hot beverage worlds: coffee, sweet, spicy tea, and warm whiskey. While the original recipe from Food52 calls for homemade chai, a store-bought option allows quicker assembly. Combine 3 ounces of sweetened chai tea, 1 ounce of good bourbon, and 1 ounce of espresso in a mug and stir to combine.
In Trinidad, the home of the renowned Angostura bitters, it's customary to add bitters to morning coffee for flavor and to settle the stomach. Add a splash of rum, and you've got a Caribbean twist on spiked coffee. Doctor up 4 ounces of hot coffee with 1.5 ounces Angostura 5 Year Old Rum, 10 dashes Angostura bitters, 1 ounce simple syrup or honey (optional), and a cinnamon stick and stir to combine.
This is the original whiskey-spiked coffee. The smooth flavors of Irish whiskey draw out the natural earthiness of drip coffee. Add 1.5 ounces Irish whiskey to 4 ounces hot coffee. Serve it black, with cream and sugar to taste, or with whipped cream for garnish.
This one is for those who want to get a little geeky at the home bar and turn out top-shelf drinks for a fraction of the cost. A boozy concoction from acclaimed bar owner and mixologist Andrew Friedman, the St. Ubhal uses three spirits plus citrus and bitters to warm you to the bone. Combine 1.5 ounces Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, 1 ounce Auchentoshan Three Wood Whisky, 0.5 ounce limoncello, 3 dashes each Angostura and orange bitters, 1 ounce orange juice, 1 ounce lemon juice, and 1 ounce simple syrup. Serve in a mug -- or, if you're feeling really ambitious, a hollowed out apple.
Swapping out traditional whiskey for Averna is an aromatic way to lighten up a toddy without losing any flavor. Averna is a little lower in alcohol than the average whiskey and contains a mix of botanicals that help soothe the body. A recipe from Serious Eats uses homemade spiced syrup, although regular honey adds a touch more sweetness than Averna naturally provides. Combine 1 ounce Averna, 0.5 ounce lemon juice, 0.5 to 1 ounce honey or spiced syrup (to taste), and boiling water in a mug and stir.
This fruity, spicy, frothy beverage from top Los Angeles bar woman Cari Hah requires a cappuccino steamer, although combining the non-alcoholic ingredients in a small pot over low heat while whisking also works well. The recipe calls for 1.5 ounces Jägermeister, 0.75 ounce clove-infused honey syrup (equal parts honey and water simmered with clove), 0.5 ounce homemade ginger syrup (equal parts sugar and water simmered with 1 tablespoon of raw grated ginger for each cup of water), 0.75 ounce lemon juice, 0.5 ounce pineapple juice, 0.75 ounce water, and a lemon peel for garnish. Since Jägermeister packs a ton of flavor, a modest amount goes a long way for a full-bodied drink that isn't too heavy on the alcohol. Use a slow cooker on low to heat up a large batch nicely without burning off the good stuff.
At first thought, warm apple cider and tequila don't seem like they would work together, but Jairo Meza from Grand Electric in Toronto was determined to make a delicious drink for those who love seasonally inspired warm cocktails and tequila. Using a tequila with considerable natural sweetness, like Tromba, makes the combination effortless. Combine 1.5 ounces with 3 ounces hot apple cider, 0.5 ounce cinnamon syrup, and 2 dashes of orange bitters in a mug and stir. Garnish with an orange peel.
There are endless variations on spiked hot cocoa, and this one from New York mixologist Rael Petit hits the chocolate peppermint notes that so many people crave. The dry-shaking technique is a bartender's secret to add froth with an egg, a trick worth perfecting if you plan to keep costs low by mixing at home. Dry shake 1.5 ounces Marie Brizard Anisette, one bar spoon Marie Brizard Mint's Peppermint, one whole egg, and 0.5 ounce malbec wine in a cocktail shaker to combine. Then shake with ice, strain into a glass, and add 1 ounce Valrhona hot chocolate. Garnish with dill for a sweet and savory scent (optional).
Stroh rum is Austria's powerful spiced rum, overproof and intense. Almost undrinkable on its own because of the concentration of flavor and alcohol, it gives any hot beverage from hot cocoa to simple tea a flavorful explosion with a kick. This play on apple strudel in warm boozy liquid form is simple and tasty. Heat 3 ounces apple juice with 0.5 teaspoon each of cinnamon and brown sugar without letting it boil. Add 1 ounce rum and garnish with a slice of apple.
Honey-sweetened limoncello from Letterpress Distillery is a natural fit for toddies of all ilks, combining all the essential ingredients in one. This faintly green and deliciously herbal Chartreuse toddy is one of a kind and sure to earn guests' admiration. Combine 1.5 ounces limoncello, 1 ounce gin, 0.75 ounce Chartreuse green liqueur, and 3 ounces hot water in a warm mug and enjoy.