For those of us that prefer dirt to snow, sunshine to darkness, flip flops to boots, winter can be a little trying. It is tempting to settle in with a stack of books and a bottle of whiskey and wait it out. However, there is much to appreciate about winter, and it is inevitable for many of us, so we may as well have some great cocktails to help us enjoy the moment.
A cold, refreshing G&T isn’t quite the right beverage to celebrate surviving a run in the wet slushy snow, or an hour shoveling the driveway. I find that I favor the full flavors of aged, brown liquor in the cold months. Winter seems the right time for more complexity, richer flavors, sweetness, and richness in perfect balance. By request, I am presenting you with three cocktails to warm you on the inside in the cold, dark days of winter.
A classic cold-weather drink, and very flexible to what you have on hand. I prefer cognac or bourbon, but try it with your favorite booze. We drank these after a short, but very wet and cold, run on Christmas eve and they hit the spot. Great recovery drink! Also a lovely nightcap.
2 ounces cognac (or other brandy or bourbon or rye or…?)
1/2 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup or sugar)
1/2 oz lemon juice
Combine the cognac, honey, and lemon juice in a small mug. Top with hot (not boiling) water. Stir. Enjoy.
This fantastic cocktail is borrowed from Speakeasy Cocktails, an e-book/iPad app that may no longer be available. It’s served cold, but the cognac, ginger and maple syrup have a particularly warming effect. I have never met anyone who has had this drink and doesn’t love it.
2 ounces cognac
3/4 ounces fresh lime juice
3/4 ounces maple syrup
5 thin slices of fresh ginger (no need to peel, but I use organic and rinse before slicing)
Muddle the ginger in a cocktail shaker, then add the remaining ingredients. Fill with ice, shake, and strain into a small glass (a coupe is nice here).
Milk Punch is a revelation. It might not sound appealing, especially if you aren’t much of a milk drinker, but it’s like a taste of summer in the winter. Like a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but boozy and not as cold, and somehow just right when it is cold and snowy. Like the Hot Toddy, there are many variations of Milk Punch. As with the Toddy, I like cognac or bourbon here, but a quick search on Cocktail DB shows any number of options that you may want to try. I have also tried versions with cream, which, while delicious, is quite heavy. Start here and adjust to suit your taste!
1 1/2 ounces cognac (or bourbon or…?)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, but tasty)
4 ounces whole milk (this is quite good as a mix of milk and half-and-half, or some cream if that is your style)
Combine cognac, simple syrup, vanilla, and milk in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake to chill, then strain into a coupe (or other cocktail glass). Garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg.
We have 47 more seconds of daylight today than we did yesterday, which is reason enough to mix up a drink or two to share with your favorite friends. Stay warm, get outside, play in the snow, and enjoy winter!
And for more ideas, you can always check out these whiskey cocktails.