Chefs' Picks: Warming Winter Cocktails
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
Winter’s chill provides the perfect excuse to cozy up with a warming cocktail in hand. Get inspired by these pros who’ve shared their go-to drinks for warding off the cold-weather blues.
A Creative Absinthe Cocktail
Once upon a time, absinthe was a controversial spirit that was banned in many countries for its hallucinatory properties. These days, a less-potent version has made a comeback as a common ingredient in craft cocktails.
One such drink has become a winter favorite for mixologist Francis Verrall of Brooklyn’s Lilia. Known as the Revived Corpse, this cocktail at the McCarren Hotel in Brooklyn combines absinthe, Aperol and gin. “On a cold day, this perfectly balanced cocktail warms you from the inside out”, says Verrall. “[It’s] a real way to revive yourself for the weather ahead.”
1 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Aperol
1 ounce Solerno Blood Orange
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce lemon
Oil from lemon rind
1/4 ounce absinthe
Rinse a coup/martini glass with Absinthe. Combine all ingredients except for absinthe in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into glass and garnish with dried blood orange wheel (optional).
Tantalizing Takes on the Hot Toddy
One cold-weather staple that many a pro seems to prefer is the hot toddy. For instance, Kyle Inserra, co-founder of Polpettina in Eastchester, New York, was taught by his Sicilian grandfather to reach for this old-school remedy whenever a cold hits. “He would put a pan on low flame, add whiskey, let it sort of steam, then add honey, and squeeze some fresh lemon, Inserra says. These days, Inserra heads to Harper’s in Dobbs Ferry, New York, when facing the frigid winter season. “Their hot toddy is pretty much a must-have on a chilly winter night.”
Bryan Dayton, beverage director and owner of Boulder’s OAK at Fourteenth, also calls the hot toddy his drink of choice for both the cold weather and flu season. “My version includes a strong bourbon – usually 100+ proof – yellow chartreuse, honey and a touch of Averna Amaro”, says Dayton, adding that it truly does help when you’re feeling under the weather. “The yellow chartreuse has all your herbs and spices, the amaro helps ease your stomach and the bourbon … well that’ll put you right to sleep!”
Another fan of the hot toddy is Vanessa Shanks, co-owner and general manager of Bar Velo in Brookyn, New York. She is drawn to a spiced-up version (pictured above) that’s served at a cozy Brooklyn cafe. “I love the hot toddy at Cafe Colette, with its cloves and star anise, which are so warming — it also helps that the ambiance is beautiful and the staff is super friendly.”
Sumptuous Spins on Hot Chocolate
When mixologist and native Californian Matt Seigel finds himself in New York during the blustery months of winter, he warms up with a sophisticated take on that beloved childhood beverage: hot chocolate. He heads to Eleven Madison Park (where he used to bartend) or The NoMad to order the Ciampino cocktail (pictured above), which brings together salted hot chocolate with Green Chartreuse, Fernet Branca and bitters-spiked whipped cream. “It’s the best version of hot chocolate ever,” says Seigel, who owns In the Spirit of Hospitality in Los Angeles.
Jimmy Yeager, owner of Jimmy’s and Jimmy’s Bodega in Aspen, Colorado, is another aficionado of amped-up cocoa concoctions, adding chiles and Tullamore whiskey to hot chocolate for a double wallop of flavor, which he calls, “The Spicy Irishman, my new favorite warming cocktail.”