It has been proven that people who live in colder winter regions drink more than those who do not, but lets not let them have all the fun! Scientifically, alcohol acts as an agent that increases blood flow to our skin, in turn making us warmer, so even if it’s not snowing where you spend your winter months, we can all still enjoy that warm-from-the-inside feeling a hot toddy delivers. And if it is snowing, have two!
The following is a culled down list of traditional winter cocktail favorites. All can be gussied up or edited to suit the craft barmen inside of you, just remember to imbibe responsibly!
Sometimes referred to as Glühwein, the mulled wine beverage is a simple concoction. It combines red wine with mulling spices served warm or piping hot if at an outdoor Christmas Market in Europe. With the earliest mention coming from a 1390 cookery book, directions stated that the grinding together of cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom, and grains of paradise would achieve the desired combination of spices to be added to the warmed red wine and sugar. Today, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star aniseed, vanilla pods, and orange are acceptable to be used as said mulling spices. Using a Syrah or Malbec will be best as they are full-bodied and bold but not overly full-flavored to take away from the delight of the mulling spices. If you find yourself in Prague during the winter months, this warming treat will usually only run you about 50 cents per delicious cup!
This quintessential winter-weather cocktail not only warms but is said to restore the body of as well. Started by barmen in Northern England and Scotland in the 18th century, they added hot water to their Scotch to stay warm. Nowadays, a sweetener like honey, spices, lemon, and of course hot water, are added to either whiskey or bourbon tp achieve the desired effect. Steeping a tea bag with hot water for 2-3 minutes, removing the bag, and then adding everything else to your liking will keep you cozy and soothe any maladies you may have from a day in the cold.
To be drank through the cream that tops the drink, an Irish coffee should consist of Irish whiskey, sugar, and of course, coffee. Although most likely invented centuries before, the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco is known to have been the first establishment stateside to serve the beverage back in 1952. Joseph Jackson is also noted to have invented the drink during World War II in county Donegal, Northwestern Ireland. Staying close to two parts whiskey and four parts coffee makes the heart-warming drink a great start to a night, but a tougher end…unless the night is truly just beginning.
Starting with a blended scotch, add fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, and a few slices of fresh ginger to a shaker with ice. Shake it, pour it, and top with a single-malt scotch for the Penicillin perfected by Australian bartender Sam Ross. Ross, who is famous for this and many other craft cocktails, brought the Penicillin to New York City’s Milk & Honey years ago. The smokey and spicy mix lends itself well to enjoying a winter evening by the fire, or the bar.
One of the oldest on the IBA (International Bartenders Association) official cocktail list and New Orleans’ official cocktail, the Sazerac has been having quite the renaissance the last few years. Best served neat in an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass, the drink currently calls for rye whiskey as the primary ingredient with a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters; however, the drink was created using cognac. Once cognac became scarce in the early 1800’s due to a vineyard pest in Europe, rye whiskey was brought in and has been used ever since. However, if Bourbon is your jam, it can be used instead to create a similar beverage called Zazarack.
The list goes on, but sticking to one type of liquor per evening is probably for the best. Get creative with these options and make up your own concoction at your next winter dinner party!
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