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!