Spritzes and mojitos, you’ve been great. But as the calendar winds down and winter weather sets in, it’s time to start looking for a cozier set of beverages.
Cold weather lends itself to stirred cocktails, warm drinks, and beverages that highlight flavors of the season like citrus, apples, and spices. Any spirit can shine in those kinds of drinks, but we’re extra partial to aged and oaky spirits this time of year.
Read on for some suggestions for the best spirits to drink when temperatures drop–and some of our favorite cocktails for featuring them, too.
Fall and winter were made for whiskey. This time of year, Mash & Grape beefs up our selection of bourbon, rye, Scotch, Irish, and world whiskies to make sure there’s always something delicious on hand for warming up.
You’ll never catch us refusing a neat pour of whiskey, but there’s just something special about whiskey cocktails this time of year. Here are three of our favorites, with suggested bottlings for good measure.
The quintessential winter warmer, hot toddies can be made with all kinds of whiskey, but we particularly love them with bourbon. Try using Walker’s Cay Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Rock Town Four Grain Sour Mash Bourbon, or Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon.
- 2 ounces whiskey
- ¾ ounce honey
- 4 ounces hot water (not boiling)
- Cinnamon stick and strip of lemon peel, for garnish
In a warmed mug, stir together the whiskey and honey. Top with the hot water, stir thoroughly, and garnish with the cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
The ultimate brunch cocktail, Irish Coffee can be made with any kind of coffee beans, but you’ve got to use an Irish whiskey like Writer’s Tears, Greenore Irish Single Grain, or West Cork 10-Year-Old for the real deal.
- 1 ½ ounces Irish whiskey
- ½ ounce rich simple syrup
- 4 ounces hot coffee
- Softly whipped cream, lightly sweetened
In a warmed mug, stir together the simple syrup and hot coffee. Add the whiskey and stir again. Top with a layer of whipped cream.
New York Sour
You might think of sours as a summer drink, but citrus is actually in peak season in the winter. Feeling festive? Replace the float of dry red wine in the classic New York sour with mulled wine for a holiday-ready riff. Rye whiskey is our pick here, like Widow Jane American Oak Aged Rye or Balcones Texas Rye.
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce fruity red wine
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add rye, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake, then strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice. “Float” the red wine on top by gently pouring it over the back of a spoon held near the surface of the drink.
Aged rum just hits different in the winter. Its warming, spicy flavor and tropical vibes can improve even the gloomiest of evenings. Plus, it’s great as an adult addition to three of our favorite non-alc holiday beverages: eggnog (don’t forget to garnish with nutmeg!), hot chocolate, and mulled apple cider.
Spiked eggnog, hot chocolate, or hot cider
- Four ounces eggnog or warm mulled cider
- 1 ½ ounces dark rum like Zafra Master Reserve Rum 21 Year or Brugal 1888
Pour eggnog, hot chocolate, or hot cider into a glass. When nobody’s looking, spike with a generous splash of rum. Enjoy your holidays.
Much like the whiskey sour, the daiquiri highlights the tart, refreshing flavor of seasonal citrus, making it a surprisingly delicious winter beverage. The orange in this version melds perfectly with the spicy, vanilla-inflected flavor of aged rums like Plantation Rum Guyana Old Reserve 2005 or Foursquare Premise.
- 2 ounces rum
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice or tangerine juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- Lime wheel, for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel and enjoy.