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50 States of Warming Cocktails

Winter is when craft cocktail bars really get in on the warming-cocktails game, even in states where the temps remain balmy. We've rounded up a bevy of spirit-free options, too, so no matter what you're sipping, the forecast will be warm and fuzzy.

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Photo: Gio Osso

Arizona: You Won't Do It at Virtù Honest Craft

"You Won't Do It" sounds like a dare that's impossible to refuse, especially when it's the name of a cocktail. At Virtù Honest Craft in Scottsdale, bar manager Fernando Bambaren brings a dose of heat to the cognac-and-tequila-based tipple by adding a touch of Calabrese chile oil and a Calabrese chile pepper garnish, a nod to Chef Gio Osso's Calabrian roots. Bambaren describes the chile as possessing just the right amount of heat to bring a tingle to the tongue and wake up the baking-spice notes in the cognac. It's a fine match for Chef Osso's bold Mediterranean cuisine, particularly pasta or Burrata-based dishes.

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Florida: The Kindling at Drift at 1 Hotel South Beach

If you think that Miami already brings enough heat, think again. At Drift, the lobby cocktail bar and lounge at 1 Hotel South Beach, The Kindling is an over-the-top smoking cocktail presented with enough greenery to rival South Beach's palm-tree-studded vista. A trio of spirits — rye whiskey, Laphroaig 10-year Scotch and Candela Mamajuana, a spiced rum — give the drink its warming, smoky-spicy base, while bold Barolo Chinato, eucalyptus-forward Amaro Braulio and bittersweet Aperol give it an herbal backbone. The mixture is served in a rocks glass and tucked into a terrarium filled with succulents, finished with a blast of a cedar-eucalyptus smoke (inspired by the hotel's signature scent) and sealed with a custom cork until ready to drink. The ensuing swirl of smoke that wafts out provides a sensory experience — not to mention a heady dose of drama.

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Photo: Isabelle Federico

Vermont: Winter Daiquiri at Mad River Distillers

The folks at rum distillery Mad River Distillers in Burlington know that Vermont winters aren't exactly conducive to drinking daiquiris, one of the best-known rum cocktails, but their winterized daiquiri has led many tasting-room visitors to describe the drink as "Christmas in a glass." A classic daiquiri shakes together rum, lime and sugar, but Mad River's version pulls in spiced falernum — a boldly flavored syrup made with ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice — instead of sugar. The syrup is shaken with Mad River First Run Rum, a robust aged rum, plus lime juice and Angostura bitters, which echoes the falernum's clove and allspice notes while adding a subtle pop of cinnamon. The drink can also be fashioned into a nonalcoholic hot toddy by replacing the rum with hot water. For an especially local taste, pair the winter daiquiri with two-year Grafton Vermont cheddar.

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Photo: Ron Jasin

Kentucky: You Make Me Real ... Cozy at Alex&nder

Louisville distillery Copper and Kings is known for bucking tradition — it started as a brandy distillery in the heart of bourbon country and has since expanded its range of spirits to include absinthe and gin. At the distillery's third-floor bar (which boasts stellar views of downtown Louisville), Alex&nder, mixologist Eron Plevan reaches for gin, an unexpected choice when it comes to warm drinks. The You Make Me Real ... Cozy is a gin-and-Earl Grey tea-based drink inspired by the Doors' 1966 live album, London Fog, and by classic London Fog Earl Grey tea. Both Copper & Kings American Dry Gin and Copper & Kings Old Tom Gin are mixed with vanilla bean-infused honey syrup and a cardamom tincture, then topped with hot Earl Grey tea. The drink is beautifully garnished with a cinnamon stick, rosemary sprig, juniper berries and an expressed lemon twist.

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