15 Winter Cocktails to Keep You Warm Until Spring
Keep your drunk sweater on.
Photo by Sydney Kramer
Even though most of the northern hemisphere has already experienced freezing temperatures and snow in some unlikely places, tomorrow, December 21, technically marks the winter solstice, the official beginning to the coldest season. It’s about that time for happy hour to include the type of cocktail that makes us feel warm and fuzzy from the inside out. You know what we mean: The kind of cocktail that you would drink in front of a fireplace, if you could afford an apartment that had one.
So if you’re doing any winter entertaining in the coming months, or just looking for a little pick-me-up until warmer days come again, these are the cocktail recipes you'll need for prime cold weather drinking.
Is burning rosemary like smudging with sage? If so, maybe this cocktail will help rid you of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Smoky, peaty scotch is already thematically on point for a warming winter cocktail, but combine that with cider, cinnamon, and maple syrup, and you’ve checked all the winter-flavor boxes.
Adding booze to coffee or tea is a recipe for myriad wintery drinks, but they usually also include gratuitous amounts of orange slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Keep it simple with cold brew, Bailey’s and brandy. The millennial’s Irish coffee.
Some people just can’t be convinced to stray too far from their go-to drink orders, no matter the season. That’s cool. This is essentially a vodka gimlet, except the substitution of rosemary syrup adds a piney note that feels all too fitting for cold weather.
Samhain is the Gaelic festival that marks the beginning of the winter season in the Celtic calendar. This cocktail is an ode to that holiday, with a spice-laden pumpkin syrup and plenty of apple brandy and cognac to keep you warm until Beltane.
Winter is the height of citrus and pomegranate season, and they make the perfect garnishes for this large-batch cocktail. Tarragon’s licorice-y flavor pairs perfectly with sweet brandy and Jamaican spiced rum, too.
Unlike eggnog, a Tom and Jerry cocktail is actually served warm, with egg whites whipped to stiff peaks floating like a cloud on top. This is about as festive and wintery as a beverage can get.
The best part about this cocktail is that you can serve it hot or cold, but either way, it’s like Christmas in your mouth. Ancho Reyes chili liqueur gives your average mulled cider new life, and a few of these will definitely get you festively sloshed.
Pro bartender Aaron Polsky helped us create this riff on the classic Manhattan with high proof bourbon and cognac to help you celebrate the Festival of Lights. He strongly advises you not to set it on fire, though. Sorry, we set bad examples sometimes.
Also from our Hanukkah Spectacular, this second Aaron Polsky tiki-style creation also makes use of high-proof spirits and some hard-to-find components, but he offers some more accessible substitutes that still produce a killer cocktail.
Like a lot of winter beverages, this simple cocktail makes use of cider, but the alcoholic kind. With only two ingredients, remember to get the best stuff you can find. It’ll make a difference. And, about that homemade vermouth—as domestic goddess Ina Garten always says, if you can’t make your own, store-bought is fine.
You might as well call whiskey, cider and rosemary The Three Wise Men, since they inevitably show up for the holidays. This big-batch drink couldn’t be easier to throw together, and as you’ll see, we’ve instructed you to buy the cheap stuff. No need to fuss this one up.
Mezcal lends a smokiness to this cocktail, which always feels appropriate when attempting to drink yourself a sweater. Orange juice and cranberry liqueur are a classic cold-weather flavor combination, and a little Punt e Mes adds bitterness to balance everything out.
Brewing your own hard cider can take a long time and requires a lot of equipment. Cut to the chase with this recipe from Michigan ice hockey player Brady Olsen. But remember that the short cut here is Everclear. Pace yourself. “You can’t go too quick into the pie,” Olsen warns.
Fennel is another peak winter flavor, with its warm, anise-y notes. It makes for a versatile syrup, and it’s a subtle enhancement to good-quality Japanese whiskey in this simple cocktail. A grapefruit peel and orange bitters rounds it out.
Maple syrup, black currants and brandy scream winter in New England. But this creation, from Leyenda bartender Ivy Mix, leans on Mix’s Latin palate with a brandy brewed in the Andes Mountains, and Ancho Reyes, a spicy-sweet ancho chili liqueur from Puebla, Mexico.