Ah, winter… when the days are short, it’s dark when I wake up and when I finish work for the day, and I can see my breath when I take the dog out in the mornings. While there aren’t a lot of things I do like about winter, I do love the seasonal drinks and flavors we get to enjoy this time of year. Today, let’s talk about winter cocktails.
I absolutely love the flavors of fall and winter. They’re so warming and comforting—perfect for cold days with early sunsets. Winter citrus, like Meyer lemon and blood orange, rank pretty high among my favorite flavors of winter, along with:
- Sweet potato
- Peppermint (of course)
All of these flavors can be incorporated into seasonally-appropriate cocktails, or into other classic cocktails for a seasonal spin. This time of year, I tend to go for more spirit-forward cocktails that’ll warm me up and fill me up, rather than lighter, more bubbly drinks of spring and summer.
Here are 13 of the most essential winter cocktails to mix and enjoy this season!
Which one are you making first?
Mulled Wine. Warm, spiced, sweet, and boozy? Sign me up. Mulled wine is hugely popular in Europe by many other names (gluwhein, glogg, etc.), especially at Christmas markets. It’s also surprisingly easy to make in large quantities, too!
Hot Toddy. Sure, these can be “medicinal,” but not much beats a good Hot Toddy on an especially cold day. If I start to feel a cold coming on, or my throat starts getting a little scratchy, I’ll mix up a Hot Toddy with herbal tea, bourbon, honey, and lemon juice. I share another Hot Toddy recipe here!
Old Fashioned. Okay, I drink these year round, but there’s something extra cozy about sipping a perfect Old Fashioned while wrapped in a blanket on my couch. I recently made a Cranberry Old Fashioned for a seasonal twist!
Spiked Hot Chocolate. Hot chocolate itself is a classic, but add some booze to it and you’ve got yourself a real treat. I like mine with Irish cream, coffee liqueur, bourbon, or whiskey.
Irish Coffee. Coffee and whiskey. Really, what more do we need to say here? Irish coffee is simple and delicious.
Sloe Gin Fizz. Ever heard of sloe gin? I can’t remember who introduced me to it a few years ago, but I’m glad that person did. I finally bought myself a bottle this year, and it’s been a great seasonal addition to my bar collection. Anyway, a sloe gin fizz is a delicious riff on the classic gin fizz. I add an egg white to mine for a thicker, more velvety texture.
Manhattan. If spirit-forward cocktails are your thing, try a Manhattan. It’s a relatively simple recipe, only needing whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. For a more seasonal spin, opt for rye whiskey for some spice, and orange bitters for a touch of sweetness.
Eggnog. I’ll admit I’ve never been the biggest fan of eggnog. Maybe I’ve never had a good one? Many of my friends do like (or even love) eggnog, though, and it does sound like a cozy drink to sip by the fire.
Cider. Whether you get it from a farm, your local market, the grocery store, or even make it yourself, warm cider is a classic winter drink. It’s delicious on its own, but add some bourbon, cinnamon whiskey, or even spiced rum, and you’ve got yourself a real treat.
Sangria. Hear me out. Sangria is pretty much a blank canvas. You can make sangria using seasonal fruits and flavors to make a winter version. I made this Winter White Sangria a few years ago, and it’s one of my favorite sangrias I’ve ever made.
Hot Buttered Rum. Sweet, warm, lightly spiced, and buttery? To be honest, I’m not 100% sold on the idea of butter in my cocktails, but hey, I put egg whites in, so why not butter? The Spruce Eats outlines two methods for making hot buttered rum; maybe I’ll give one of them a try!
Rum Punch. When you’re tired of cold temperatures, snow, and ice, mix up some rum punch and pretend you’re at the beach for a couple hours. Experiment with the specific citrus and spice ingredients to make it more wintry.
Bourbon Milk Punch. I’ll admit, this one is a little out of my comfort zone. Bourbon milk punch was born in New Orleans and remains a brunch staple in many restaurants in the Crescent City. Alcohol and milk sounds like a weird combination, but the bourbon cuts through the fat content in milk and creates (what I assume is) a pleasant cocktail. Try maple syrup instead of regular simple syrup for a seasonal twist!
And lastly… it’s not a cocktail, but dark beers like porters and stouts are usually nice during the winter. Darker, richer notes of chocolate, nuts, and caramel are much more enjoyable in colder months than in the middle of summer. Darker beers are also really good in brownies… as seen here and here.
There are plenty of winter cocktails to enjoy this time of year. Whether you try one of the cocktails mentioned above, or add some winter flavors to your favorites, I hope you imbibe some wintry deliciousness at least once this season! If you need some more winter cocktail inspiration, check out Delish and The Spruce Eats for more recipes and ideas!
Which winter cocktail will you try first?