Spirit of the Season
Say it’s “something to keep Jack Frost away” or “just a nip to stay warm,” but winter is one of the best times of year for drinking. No other season arrives with a built-in excuse to stay in with a bottle. And if you do go outside and brave everything Old Man Winter throws at you, you’ve earned yourself a trip to the bar as a reward for staying alive in such harsh conditions (in our opinion, “harsh conditions” can be anything from a slight breeze to 60 degrees below).
What separates a winter cocktail from a cocktail you chug in the summertime? First, and obviously, a winter cocktail typically includes some sort of warm liquid, such as water, coffee, or cider along with the booze. (Duh.) Secondly, many also include darker, richer flavors to help accent the brooding of this dark season. Instead of the frothy citrus flavors you’ll find in a beachside margarita, winter cocktails focus on the toned-down sweetness of cloves, almonds, and cinnamon to give your booze of choice a little flavor boost. “I think a good winter cocktail is when you can taste the season,” says bartender Brittlynn Stites. “When I start to smell cloves and cinnamon around, I know winter is here. A good winter cocktail should be something you look forward to having.” So take off the parka, belly up to the bar, and order something a little stronger than hot tea with honey. ’Tis the season … to drink!
Dark and Stormy
Pour two parts Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum over six parts ginger beer. Serve with a lime wedge. Some bartenders will tell you that you have to use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, but those bartenders are assholes.
Pour six ounces of hot apple cider into a glass, toss in three whole cloves, a stick of cinnamon, and—most importantly—an ounce and a half of bourbon. If you want to turn up the heat, go ahead and toss an extra ounce or two of bourbon into the furnace when no one’s looking.
Hot Irish Whiskey
If there’s one thing the Irish know, it’s how to use alcohol to stay warm all winter long (and as a crutch to deal with all of life’s problems). In an Irish coffee glass, combine two and a half ounces of whiskey, a slice of lemon, some cloves, a teaspoon of sugar, and hot water. Stir and serve.
Pour an ounce of Baileys, an ounce of Frangelico, and an ounce of cream over ice in a steel cocktail shaker and shake until completely cold. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with ice. Or, if you want to skip this whole process, you could take a few swigs straight out of a Jameson bottle and call it a night.