29 Warming Winter Cocktails
Baby, it’s cold outside, but these steaming mugs of boozy deliciousness are sure to ward off that chill. We’ve rounded up the best spirited coffees, toddies, mulled ciders and other comforting (spiked) cups to tide you over until warmer days.
Photo By: Lark on the Park
Photo By: Pouring Ribbons
Photo By: Midnight Rambler
Photo By: SpringHouse
Photo By: Meet the Moon
Photo By: Danielle Bernabe
Photo By: Humpback Sally’s
Photo By: Sundry & Vice
Photo By: Shakewell
Photo By: Morcilla
Photo By: West Town Bakery & Diner
Photo By: The Spectator
Photo By: The Park
Photo By: Lot No. 3
Photo By: Imperial
Photo By: Centrolina
Photo By: Gather
Photo By: Ben Fink
Photo By: Andina
Photo By: Kapnos Kouzina
Photo By: Strip House
Photo By: Inns of Aurora
Photo By: Avenue at Pier Village
Photo By: Swine Southern Table & Bar
Photo By: Caliza Restaurant
Photo By: 360 Bistro
Photo By: Cuba Libre
Photo By: Boneyard Bistro
Photo By: Providence
Crimson & Clove: Dallas
Lark on the Park’s version of classic wassail subs in aged rum for mulled wine, and ramps up the spice profile, which gives the drink more complex flavor while maintaining the balance between sweet, spicy and boozy notes. Perfect to wrap your hands around, it also features unfiltered apple juice, raw cranberry juice, white peppercorns, allspice pods, cinnamon, orange peel and ginger.
Go to: Lark on the Park
Pouring Ribbons: New York
Joaquín Simó’s over-the-top (OTT) riff on Irish coffee at cult cocktail bar Pouring Ribbons starts with cardamom pods muddled in the bottom of a preheated mug, to which he adds single malt Irish whiskey, demerara syrup, hot coffee and saline solution. It’s topped with a cream of whipped orange zest, sugar and orange bitters, and garnished with an Irish whiskey marshmallow from Little Boo Boo Bakery.
Go to: Pouring Ribbons
Sweet & Sour Chicken Toddy: Dallas
Midnight Rambler’s bartenders, Chad Solomon and Christy Pope, call this warm, savory sipper “a winter thriller that is both delicious and seemingly medicinal, sure to ward off the toughest case of winter blues.” It mixes gin with lime, pineapple syrup, organic free-range chicken broth and sriracha. Garnished with a star anise pod, it tastes like the cocktail version of steaming pho.
Go to: Midnight Rambler
Eve’s Temptation: Alexander City, Alabama
Not much snow falls in Alabama, but this cocktail still evokes thoughts of grandmothers candying apples for seasonal special occasions. To create this temptation, bourbon is mixed with fresh pureed apples, cinnamon, molasses syrup and lemon juice, topped with steamed milk and garnished with a cinnamon-torched apple wedge and cinnamon stick.
Go to: SpringHouse
Tea Time in Lyon: Seattle
This warm, elegant drink was stirred by both the English tradition of afternoon tea and the French tradition of sipping pre-dinner aperitifs. Created by Casey Estrada at Meet the Moon, it features gin infused with loose-leaf chamomile tea, gentian liqueur, fortified wine, lemon and chamomile tea for a beverage Estrada touts as a martini drinker’s hot cocktail.
Go to: Meet the Moon
Thirsty Toddy: Los Angeles
Rahad Coulter-Stevenson’s spruced-up toddy at Thirsty Crow is built in the glass with rye, lemon juice, a housemade honey-ginger syrup for a spicy-sweet kick, and a few dashes of bitters for layered complexity. The lot is garnished with mint sprigs for aromatics. “If a tickle in the throat or a full belly ails you, a toddy is a perfect cure,” he advises.
Go to: Thirsty Crow
Haggerty’s Dram: Bismarck, North Dakota
One of a four-part series of cocktails inspired by the four elements, this drink (representing earth) is reminiscent of being in a mountain forest. Created by Kate Gerwin, the drink mixes whiskey and gin with genepy (an Alpine herbal liqueur), Fernet Branca, chicory coffee, Mexican hot chocolate and a bar spoon of mixed-berry jam, all topped with truffled whipped cream.
Go to: Humpback Sally’s
Hot Sazerac: Cincinnati
Invented in New Orleans before the Civil War, the Sazerac is thought to be the oldest-known American cocktail. The warm version at craft cocktail bar Sundry & Vice in Cincinnati is the perfect foil for frigid Ohio winters. Just as in the original, rye whiskey is mixed with simple syrup and bitters, then served in an absinthe-rinsed mug. It’s topped with hot water and garnished with lemon zest.
Go to: Sundry & Vice
Café Olé: Oakland
Shakewell, a buzzy Spanish tapas bar in Oakland, has had its warming Café Olé on its weekend brunch menu since it opened in 2014. Guests in the know can actually order it anytime of the day, though. Sexy and inviting on the table, it mixes a small-batch reposado (rested) tequila with Kahlua for coffee flavor, plus steamed milk and cinnamon, and a dash of orange liqueur for a hint of citrus.
Go to: Shakewell
Tom & Jerry: Pittsburgh
Developed by British journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s, this traditional festive holiday drink is named for characters in one of Egan’s books (and was said to be a favorite of President Warren G. Harding). For the version at Morcilla in Pittsburgh, a batter of whole eggs, sugar, dark rum, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg is blended, dispensed from an iSi charger, and topped with brandy, dark rum and hot water.
Go to: Morcilla
Tex’s Invigorated Hot Cocoa: Chicago
James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist Chris Teixeira, executive pastry chef for The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, created for West Town Bakery & Diner this boozy hot cocoa that’s a chocoholic’s dream beverage. The combination includes Cacao Barry hot chocolate with creme de cassis liqueur and walnut liqueur, with homemade marshmallows on top.
Go to: West Town Bakery
Hasta Manzana: Charleston, South Carolina
Childhood trips to the apple orchard each fall inspired this drink by head bartender Allen Lancaster. With a name inspired by “hasta manana,” the Spanish expression for “see you later” (manzana means “apple”), the cocktail mixes tequila with Laird’s AppleJack, Licor 43, spiced apple cider, cinnamon and allspice for a tipple that conjures crisp autumnal days.
Go to: The Bar at The Spectator
Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate: Austin
A sports bar may not seem like the best place to try a lip-tingling hot chocolate, but The Park takes its warm drinks seriously. Made with Mexican-style hot chocolate and creme de cacao, this beverage gets a dose of heat from ancho chile liqueur from Mexico, meaning that there are multiple ways to add heat in this mug.
Go to: The Park
Lot Buttered Rum: Bellevue, Washington
Hot buttered rum is rich, decadent and seasonal; in this variation, Lot No. 3’s bar manager, Josh Woodbridge, adds Becherovka, a Czech herbal liqueur, for a cinnamon-forward boozy twist. He mixes the liqueur with aged rum, hot water, orange peel and a buttered-rum mixture made with unsalted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice.
Go to: Lot No. 3
Imperial Toddy: Portland, Oregon
The Pacific Northwest is known for its amazing apples, which Imperial’s beverage director, Lindsay Baker, puts to good use in this made-to-order winter warmer. Local apple cider is spiked with rye whiskey, lemon juice, ginger syrup and cardamom bitters, then garnished with a clove-studded orange peel, making it very easy to partake in that recommended “apple a day.”
Go to: Imperial
Hot Buttered Rum Affogato: Washington, D.C.
A fitting tipple to transition from the fall to the winter months, the Italian twist on a hot buttered rum at this restaurant and market combines warm elements with a cool hit of ice cream. Bar manager Kristin Welch starts with spiced rum and 12-year aged rum, to which she adds hot water, brown sugar simple syrup and a scoop of brown butter gelato.
Go to: Centrolina
Chocolate Truce: Berkeley, California
Verte Chaud, or green chocolate, is the oddly enticing French combination of hot chocolate and green Chartreuse often sipped by the fireside after skiing. This version starts with dark chocolate ganache, whole milk and green Chartreuse (made by monks with a secret recipe), topped with whipped cream, a few spritzes of anise-scented absinthe and a dusting of dark cocoa powder.
Go to: Gather
Mulled Chai Cider: New York City
Created as a symbol of Diwali, the Hindu celebration of the New Year, this drink mingles cognac with apple cider, brown sugar, ginger, apples, kumquats, oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, black peppercorns, Darjeeling tea and pomegranate. “[It] smells one hundred times better than potpourri or a scented candle,” trumpets owner Suvir Saran.
Go to: Tapestry
Chukulati Hayaq: Portland, Oregon
Representing a “Novo-Andean approach to mixology,” this uber-popular cocktail has been a menu staple at Andina for 13 years. It combines ajies (Peruvian hot peppers) with hazelnut-espresso vodka and Fortunato No. 4 chocolate, which is made from a Peruvian cacao bean previously thought to have been extinct. “It’s a sweet, spicy chocolate drink with great cultural significance,” bartender Ethan Atkinson says.
Go to: Andina
Chicory Cocktail: Bethesda, Maryland
In New Orleans, the root of the chicory plant is baked, roasted, ground and brewed either with or in place of coffee beans. This Greek taverna pays homage to the tradition by infusing bourbon with chicory and mixing it with white creme de cacao, Galliano Ristretto, agave nectar and hot hazelnut black coffee, and topping it with an amaretto float and grated nutmeg.
Go to: Kapnos Kouzina
Strip House Warm Apple Cider Punch: Livingston, New Jersey
Picking, eating and enjoying apples is a favorite seasonal pastime in New Jersey, and few flavors go better with the fruit than warming whiskey and baking spices. For this drink, apple cider is simmered with allspice, cloves, cinnamon and orange rind, which is all mixed with bourbon. The drink is served in a clear glass mug garnished with a cinnamon stick and an apple ring.
Go to: Strip House
Pomegranate Ginger Hot Toddy: Aurora, New York
The hot toddy has long been sipped to counter cold or flu symptoms. This version ups the health factor with spiced pomegranate juice, which is known for its antioxidants, vitamins, potassium, folic acid and iron. It’s mixed with rum, local ginger vodka, star anise and nutmeg; pink peppercorn adds bite and a flash of color.
Go to: Aurora Inn Dining Room
Café Alpin: Long Branch, New Jersey
This drink reminds Thierry Carrier, Avenue’s French-born general manager and mixologist, of time spent in the Alps with his grandparents, who enjoyed a glass of Borsci San Marzano, an Italian bittersweet liqueur, after dinner. The spicy warm creation is mixed with bourbon, espresso and a whipped cream that’s infused with the liqueur.
Go to: Avenue at Pier Village
Swine Campside Coffee: Coral Gables, Florida
High West Campfire Whiskey from Utah is the world’s first blend of bourbon, Scotch and rye, and it lends a sweet and smoky note when coffee is spiked with it. When combined with maple syrup, Swine's chocolate bitters and Panther coffee, it evokes memories of a pancake breakfast on the griddle around a roaring campfire.
Go to: Swine Southern Table & Bar
Spiced Apple: Panama City Beach, Florida
As inviting as a slice of fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie, the Spiced Apple cocktail actually works equally well hot or cold. To craft the warming version, bartenders mix white rum with chai tea, simple syrup, unsweetened applesauce and lemon juice, serving it all warm in a coffee mug garnished with an apple wheel.
Go to: Caliza Restaurant
Carol’s Blueberry Tea: Nashville
Bar director Ashley Thompson concocted this drink long ago for one of her regular customers. She mixes Grand Marnier with Amaretto di Saronno and freshly brewed Earl Grey tea, and tops it with blueberries. “It’s yummy and comforting and tastes like warm berries,” says Thompson.
Go to: 360 Bistro
Pumpkin Spice Cafe Cuba Libre: Washington, D.C.
Travel to Old Havana via a coffee cocktail from this Cuban-inspired restaurant chain. Pumpkin-spice syrup adds warming flavors to the blend of rum, Cuban coffee, steamed coconut milk, sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy it on its own or paired with a dessert like flan.
Go to: Cuba Libre
French Quarter Coffee: Sherman Oaks, California
Housemade bitters crafted with ground chicory give a New Orleans spin to the timeless Irish coffee. The bitters top a blend of rye whiskey, Herbsaint, coffee and brown sugar, all finished with freshly whipped vanilla-scented cream. The sipper is perfect next to warm, puffy beignets dusted with powdered sugar.
Go to: Boneyard Bistro
Bartender Kim Stodel at Providence thought apples and caraway would pair nicely with unsweetened Icelandic Schnapps, so she infused them into a bottle of it for this toddy, which also has hot water, lemon, yuzu, honey and aromatic garnishes. It’s a play on the last name of a guest chef (Adelstein) of Icelandic descent who was under the weather but felt better after sampling this pick-me-up.
Go to: Providence