Warm winter cocktails are nothing new. After all, people have been mulling spiked spiced cider and adding dashes of Kahlua to their coffee for years. But like the cocktail movement in general, mixologists are getting more creative behind the bar when it comes to creating hot cocktails. From kicked-up versions of classics to new twists on seasonal flavors, here are four winter cocktails to warm up with this season.
1. Go with a Twist on Irish Coffee
At Trifecta in Portland, Oregon, Irish coffee goes beyond just coffee and whiskey. The bar takes Portland's local Stumptown coffee and mixes it with Krogstad aged aquavit, Redbreast 12-year-old whiskey, house buttermilk-cultured Chartreuse whip, and walnut oil. It makes for the perfect after-dinner drink or even liquid dessert. Coffee is a good mixer for warm winter cocktails, but mixing it with other ingredients that go beyond just a single shot of whiskey or liqueur makes for a more interesting drink.
2. Think Brunch, Not Just after Dinner
Avoid assuming that warm winter cocktails will be enjoyed as after-dinner drinks. Instead, include them on your brunch, dinner, and regular bar menus. At The Bonnie in Astoria, New York, mixologist Mike Di Tota is adding a new fall brunch cocktail—his take on a Mexican hot chocolate. This drink tastes both rich and a little bitter, and combines Mexican Fernet-Vallet and Tuthilltown Cacao Liqueur, which is made in collaboration with New York-based Fruition Chocolate. To add the element of cream, he adds condensed milk, and their pastry chef is working on creating mini churros to accompany the drink.
3. Make Hot and Iced Versions
Move over apple cider, this hot apple drink pulls in spicy elements of chai tea. At Caliza Restaurant, which happens to overlook a stunning pool, they make an apple cocktail that can be served iced or hot for those chillier nights. The drink is made with Don Q silver rum, homemade chai syrup, unsweetened apple sauce, and a squeeze of lemon. This wonderful drink proves that hot cocktails aren't just for winter-weather locales.
4. Take Advantage of Sherry
Sherry isn't often used in cocktails, but it's the perfect warming after-dinner drink, and makes perfect sense as a warm cocktail ingredient. Jess Lambert from Boleo in Chicago recently returned from a trip to Peru, where she was inspired to create a cocktail called Brethen of the Sea. She combines Lustau Amontillado sherry, Appleton Signature rum, and a dash of Bar Keep apple bitters with caramel Pu-erh tea syrup, fresh lemon, and hot water for a belly-warming cocktail.
As you can see from these ideas, cocktails can still be inventive and creative—even if the heat is turned up. Start with this inspiration and consider adding warm cocktails to your menu.