By the time the bone-chilling month of January comes along—when nearly everyone in my fair city of New York is clad with layer upon layer of wool, cashmere, and down—I tend to go for cocktails without any form of chill whatsoever. No ice, no cold spirits, no chilled glassware. This time of year, I like my concoctions hot hot hot. Because in my mind, what’s more comforting than wearing your coziest sweater (and fuzziest socks) as you sip on a mezcal-infused hot chocolate—or mulled wine—when it’s 19 degrees outside? Not a whole lot.
And given that we’ve got a few more months of winter weather to contend with, there’s plenty of time to experiment with all the hot cocktail recipes you can get your hands on—and you best believe that’s what I’ll be doing as I hunker down. And I highly recommend you do the same.
Below are 21 recipes (from some of America’s finest bartenders) to try this season—from a delicious wassail that packs a punch to a rum-forward coffee drink reminiscent of Irish coffee, and beyond.
THE BEST HOT COCKTAILS TO ENJOY ALL WINTER LONG
“Pearfect Combo is a warm cocktail made vibrant with the rich and complex flavors of a high-rye bourbon, inspired by our endless quest to discover new flavors, along with the pursuit of French culinary innovations. Winter reminds me of sitting outside, next to a fire, with the people I care for, with warm cocktail in hand, creating extraordinary memories. I designed this cocktail with the intention of keeping them warm and to help them create their own unique memories during this cold season. The cocktail is served in a coquette glass with whipped cream and spice dust as garnish. As a mixologist and the manager of Bastille Brasserie & Bar in Alexandria, Pearfect Combo allows me to bring a unique flavor to guests and elevate their dining experience.” —Jacob Sunny, restaurant and bar manager at Bastille Brasserie and Bar, Alexandria, Virginia
1.5 oz. KO High Rye Bourbon
0.75 oz. St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
0.25 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. Dammann Frères Four Fruits Rouges tea, hot
Whipped cream (store-bought or homemade)
*Ginger–Cinnamon–Sugar Powder: Mix 1 oz. ground ginger, 1 oz. cinnamon powder, and 1 oz. sugar together and store in an airtight container.
Method: Pour lemon juice, simple syrup, and hot tea into coquette glassware. Add St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur and KO High Rye Bourbon. Stir to mix. Add whipped cream on top. Top with ginger-cinnamon-sugar powder.
SPICED APPLE WARMER
“Now that we’re back to hosting guests at home more frequently, why not make a larger format version of a wintertime favorite? The spiced apple warmer is always a fan favorite with the botanical mix of Fords Gin nicely complementing the warming spices of cider, cinnamon, and ginger.” —Tim Cooper, head of brand advocacy at Fords Gin
Ingredients (Yields 25 8-ounce servings)
1 bottle (750 ml) Fords Gin
5 liters cloudy apple juice or apple cider
Juice of 6 limes
Juice of 6 lemons
2 barspoons ground cinnamon
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
Superfine sugar, to taste
Method: In large saucepan, bring apple, lime, and lemon juices to simmer over medium heat. Add cinnamon and ginger. Stir continuously. Do not allow to boil. Add sugar to taste. Once concoction is well mixed and hot, add gin. Return to a hot temperature and put into a pitcher or dispenser. Garnish batch with lemon wheels. Garnish individual mugs or cups with cinnamon stick and star anise.
PORTER’S COFFEE BREAK
“The job of a porter has always been a difficult one: They’re in charge of making sure that heavy items are lifted and get to where they need to be—as well as performing countless general tasks while serving their guests with a smile and keeping everyone happy. It’s often a thankless job, which is why they deserve to enjoy a drink that’ll keep them pepped up and cheery during their breaks. And the Porter’s Coffee Break does just that. Utilizing common ingredients for the common man, all of which do some heavy lifting in their respective roles in the drink to ensure everything comes together seamlessly and harmoniously, just like the vital job of its intended drinker.” —Justin Lavenue, owner/operator and cofounder of The Roosevelt Room, Austin, TX
1.25 oz. Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
3 oz. cold brew concentrate (such as Chameleon)
0.75 oz. Guinness Irish Dry Stout
0.25 oz. grade A maple syrup
Method: Begin by heating the cold brew concentrate on the stove or in a kettle to between 180–200˚F. Heat an Irish coffee glass with hot water. After 20 seconds, discard the hot water from the glass, then pour the Jameson Caskmates, Guinness, and maple syrup into the glass. Add hot cold brew concentrate leaving a half-inch wash line for the cream. Scoop around 1 oz. cold heavy cream that has been whipped with a whisk, then float it on the surface of the cocktail. Garnish with a few shakes of extra-fine grain Himalayan salt (to your taste preference) on the surface of the cream and top with a nice sprinkle of powdered cinnamon.
HOT BUTTERED RUM
“This classic recipe dates back to the 1600s and is reminiscent of warm boozy cookie dough. The spiced buttered sugar is a concoction of ingredients one would associate with winter: butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. These flavors blend perfectly with the spiced rum and make you feel like you’ve made a restaurant or cocktail bar-worthy drink at home.” —Grant Sceney, creative beverage director at Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, BC
1.5 oz. spiced rum
3.4 oz. hot water
Cinammon stick, garnish
1 oz. spiced buttered sugar*
7 oz. butter
14 oz. demerara sugar
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch clove
*Spiced Buttered Sugar: Heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Add the butter, stirring until it’s melted. Add in the sugar, stirring until combined. Mix in the spices.
Method: Preheat a coffee mug with hot water. Discard hot water. Build all ingredients into mug. Stir with cinnamon stick to garnish and enjoy.
FIGARO MULLED WINE
“This recipe was given to me by my mom and grandma. It was something they would make to warm us up after a day spent outside and it remains one of the best memories of winter. I took the recipe, made it stronger with the addition of orange liquor, but it basically remained the same recipe. You need to feel how much spices, sugar, orange juice, and lemon goes in. So basically, secret ingredient is love and thoughtful attention.” —Mario Skaric, co-owner of Figaro Café, New York, NY
750 ml. bottle of merlot or cabernet sauvignon wine
2 cups of mulling spices
0.5 cup of orange liquor (Cointreau is our house go-to)
2 oranges juiced (after juicing throw the halved, squeezed oranges in the mix)
3–5 tbsp. of demerara sugar
2–3 lemon peels
Method: Combine everything into a pot and heat up till it starts bubbling. Once it reaches that point turn the heat off and let everything sit for 15–20 minutes (that’s when all the flavors of the herbs and ingredients are being extracted and married into the wine). Make sure to not let it boil as the alcohol content will diminish. Garnish with cinnamon stick pierced through a cocktail pick.
HOT OAXACAN PENICILLIN
“A classic Penicillin (blended Scotch, ginger honey, citrus, and a peated Islay Scotch float) is a modern classic and a cold-weather favorite for a reason. As the name suggests, it’s a comfort cocktail that feels like a warm hug when you’re chilly or feeling a little under the weather. The key elements that the two different Scotch expressions provide are mirrored in Teremana reposado and mezcal; namely, vanilla, caramel, woody depth, and an invigorating smoke. These agave spirits also bring a bright citrusy note to the table that isn’t found in the Scotch original. That idea coupled with the recognition that ginger and honey are staples in a lot of households resulted in a natural transition to making this a hot cocktail. The temperature brings all of the aromatics of the smoke, agave, and rich honey to your nose. The first sip is spirit-forward but it’s quickly rounded off by the honey. The spicy ginger announces itself in the finish, leaving a lovely warming sensation all the way down. As the lemon wheel steeps a bit, notes of citrus oil offer an invigorating burst of liveliness that carries through to the last sip.” —Resa Mueller, bartender at R&D Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
1.5 oz. Teremana Reposado
0.5 oz. mezcal
0.5 oz. store-bought ginger syrup, such as Liquid Alchemist
0.25 oz. honey syrup (2:1)
Method: Build in a tempered mug, top with 4 oz. hot water, and garnish with a lemon wheel.
“This is Mellow Gold, a take on the classic dish of cornbread and buttermilk. It is warm and comforting, savory and sweet, mellow and corny, and straight liquid gold. The juxtaposition of temperatures between the drink and the whip keeps you coming back for that next sip, while the flavors are a nod to my home growing up in Chattanooga (and even if it’s not from your home, I invite you to take a journey through mine).” —McLain Hedges, co-owner of Yacht Club, Denver, CO
1 oz. Mellow Corn Whiskey (or choice of bourbon)
1 oz. Nixta Licor de Elote
2 tsp. honey
3 oz. hot water (plus more for warming mug)
Salted buttermilk whip*
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup buttermilk
*Salted Buttermilk Whip: In a shaker tin, add 1 cup heavy cream, a shaker spring, and ¼ tsp. salt. Shake for 30 seconds to 1 minute, maybe a touch longer. Check periodically to make sure you haven’t over-whipped the cream if needed. Once the cream has hit the “firm peak” stage, add up to ½ cup buttermilk and shake until you get a smooth and silky consistency that pours easily while not being too runny. (It should pour like pancake batter!) Keep cold for use. If using a stand mixer: add ingredients and whip, starting low and turning up the speed until firm peaks have formed. Lower the speed and add the buttermilk slowly until a silky, yet slightly runny cream has formed.
Method: First, warm a heatproof mug with hot water for at least 20–30 seconds. Second, dump hot water or reserve for another use; in that same warmed glass, add all ingredients minus the salted buttermilk whip. Finally, top with a good layer of the salted buttermilk whip and enjoy!
SPIKED WINTER COCOA
“Growing up, the most magical time of the year for me was the winter—and not just for the holidays. My mother used to make this unbelievably thick hot chocolate that stood out from the blander store-bought ones. Years later, it’s always comforting to revive that memory, complementing and boosting up those flavors.” —Giuseppe Santochirico, beverage director, Midnight Theatre, Hidden Leaf, and Midnight Cafe, New York, NY
1 oz. espadín mezcal
1 oz. Amaro Montenegro
5 oz. hot cocoa (your favorite brand is fine)
Mini marshmallows, garnish
Coarse sea salt, garnish
Cinnamon powder (or 5-spice mix, if at hand)
Method: Warm up the hot cocoa and pour in an insulated mug. Add the mezcal and amaro and stir them in to amalgamate. Gently add the marshmallows on top, add a tiny pinch of sea salt and sprinkle over cinnamon powder (or 5 spice mix). Enjoy happiness in a glass.
“I always recommend an Irish Coffee in the winter—it’s a classic, and the combination of coffee and whiskey is especially cozy when it’s cold out. I like to add some Mr Black, a cold brewed coffee liqueur made with real arabica coffee beans, to really emphasize that rich, coffee flavor.” —Stephen Kurpinsky, U.S. brand ambassador for Mr Black Roasters & Distillers
1 oz. Roe and Co. Irish whiskey
1.5 oz. Mr Black Cold Brew Liqueur
0.5 oz. simple syrup
4 oz. hot coffee
1 oz. fresh whipped cream
Method: Fill a footed Irish coffee mug with hot water to preheat it, then empty. Add Irish whiskey, Mr Black and simple syrup directly to the warmed glass; top with fresh, hot coffee until the glass is nearly full (about 4 oz). Top with a collar of the whipped heavy cream. Serve hot.
BROOKLYN BUTTERED RUM
“Milady’s is the ultimate cozy neighborhood spot, so it felt right to add a hot buttered rum to the menu this winter. I named this one the Brooklyn Buttered Rum because it’s a drink I created at my home in Brooklyn, so to me this drink really feels like curling up at home on a cold night.” —Julie Reiner, co-owner of Milady’s, New York, NY
2 oz. aged rum
3 oz. mulled cider*
2 gallons apple cider
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
8 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. whole cloves
2 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. grated nutmeg
Zest of 4 orange peels
A pat of spiced butter (roughly one teaspoon to one tablespoon)**
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
4 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. grated nutmeg
2 tsp. ground cloves
Method: To first make the spiced butter, cream the regular unsalted butter and the sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the spices and continue beating one minute more. Begin the mulled cider by combining apple cider, sugar, spices, and orange peel in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the spices from the mixture. Combine mulled cider and aged rum in a pre-warmed glass mug, then float a spoonful of the spiced butter mixture on top of the cocktail.
MULL IT OVER
“You can make your mulled wine in advance if necessary or if you have any left over and want to enjoy it again later. Best bet is chill in an ice bath (place your vessel in a larger bowl filled with ¾ ice and ¼ water). Once it is cooled, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will be good for 3 days in the refrigerator. Slowly bring back to temperature over low heat until hot enough to serve. You can reheat in a crockpot on low and then gradually increase to hot.” —Gabe Sanchez, beverage director at The Joule, Dallas, TX
2 bottles of syrah or pinot noir
¼ cup armagnac
¼ cup orange liqueur or ¼ cup port wine (reduced by ½ to ¼ cup)
2 cara cara oranges
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
3 whole cinnamon sticks
5 star anise
8 whole cloves
10 white peppercorns
Method: Add cinnamon, anise, cloves to heavy bottom pot and toast over medium high heat. Slice oranges. When spices begin to smoke, lower heat to medium. Add wine, orange liqueur or Port wine, brown sugar and honey, orange slices and continually stir to combine and dissolve sugar. When mulled wine begins to slightly bubble reduce to low and cover. Taste for sweetness. Pour onto preheated mug. Garnish with orange zest wrapped skewered cranberries and cinnamon stick.
“Making wassail on the winter solstice has been a tradition of mine for years; my friends and I sip, taste the nuance, and discuss what we want to leave in the old year and bring to the new one. I love bringing this warmth and reflection to the Musket Room, and it’s easy enough for anyone to try at home as the weather gets colder.”—Jeanne Torres, bartender at The Musket Room, New York, NY
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups orange juice
3 peeled, cored, and wedged apples
2 cans Kölsch beer
½ cup lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
*spice satchel: 3 cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger, clove buds
Method: Simmer all ingredients in a pot for 20 min, store in refrigerator and reheat in an electric kettle when ready to drink. Garnish with brûléed orange slice and dehydrated cranberry
WARM SPICED SANDY
“Mulled wine is delicious comfort that is unlike any other hot beverage. The aromas are captivating and the spices are easy to find and customizable to your taste. It’s a warm wine cocktail that always brings people together!” —Sara Lehman, sommelier and owner of Somm In The City
Ingredients (Yields Four 5.5-ounce Mugs)
2.5 cups Sandy Giovese Vino Rosso
1 oz. Cognac (optional)
3–4 orange peels
1 large cinnamon stick
Fresh orange peel or cinnamon stick, garnish
Method: In a sauce pot, add Sandy Giovese Vino Rosso, orange peels, cloves, and cinnamon. Bring to a medium boil, then down to a simmer. Turn off heat and let spices steep. Then strain out the cloves, cinnamon, and orange peels. Add Cognac (optional) and ladle into glasses. Top with an orange peel, a cinnamon stick, or a garnish of your choosing.
HOT OFF THE PRESS
“Hot cocktails are delicious in the wintertime. Lots of folks gravitate towards pairing barrel aged spirits with hot liquids since the flavors from the wood (such as vanilla and caramel) pair so perfectly together. The added spice from the juniper and richness from the raw honey found in Tom Cat Gin is unparalleled.” —Sam Nelis, beverage director at Barr Hill
1 oz. Tom Cat Gin
1 oz. Amaro CioCiaro
6 oz. Vermont apple cider
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
0.5 oz. raw honey syrup (2:1)
Method: Pour both the Tom Cat Gin and Amaro CioCiaro into the mug. Heat up the apple cider, orange juice, honey syrup, and cinnamon stick separately. Top off glass with this hot mixture. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
“Our Butter Beer cocktail speaks to the true millennial heart, with its inspiration coming straight from Harry Potter. It’s what we like to think they would be drinking at the Three Broomsticks when the cold weather comes around. Our take on Hot Buttered Rum features Mr. Katz’s Rock & Rye, butter infused overproof rum as well as the infamous gardenia mix from the elusive Pearl Diver tiki cocktail. Imagine a liquid Werther’s Original in the best kind of way.” —Marissa Mazzotta, bar manager at The Shanty, Brooklyn, NY
0.5 oz. demerara syrup
0.75 oz. butter-infused Smith & Cross rum
0.75 oz. Plantation original dark rum
1.5 oz. Mr. Katz’s Rock & Rye
Method: Put all ingredients into a warm cup, add 1 heaping barspoon of gardenia mix while stirring in hot water. Top with nutmeg.
“This cocktail is great for winter as it’s a hot drink but has some tropical flavors and feels like it transports you to summer. The spicy tequila gives it a nice little punch.” —Jake Smith, bar manager at Rontoms, Portland, OR
1.5 oz. infused Batanga Tequila Blanco*
1 oz. apricot liqueur
0.5 oz. Drambuie
0.75 oz. Bärenjäger honey liqueur
0.5 oz. grapefruit juice
*Infused Blanco Tequila: Infuse serrano, jalapeño, and/or habanero peppers in tequila for 1–3 days.
Method: Warm glass mug under hot water from the coffee maker (or kettle), add ingredients and stir gently. Top with additional hot water and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
BASIL HOT TODDY
“One thing I love about this hot toddy, that you don’t see in a standard hot toddy recipe, is the addition of ginger! It adds the perfect amount of spice and provides what I like to call the ‘warm hug’ feeling while you drink it! I grew up with those flavors: Any time I had a cold or didn’t feel well, my dad would give me hot water with lemon, ginger, and honey, and it would always make me feel better! Those ingredients, to me, have always been the cure for what ails you.” —Amy Probasco, cocktail consultant at Beam Suntory
2 parts Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1 part honey
2 lemon wedges
2–3 slices of ginger, peeled
4–5 dashes Angostura bitters
4 parts hot water
Cinnamon stick or grated cinnamon
Method: In a saucepan over medium-heat, heat the ginger and water until almost boiling. Pour the water into a large mug, straining out the ginger. Add the honey, stirring until it is well dissolved. Squeeze and drop in the lemon wedges. Add the Basil Hayden’s and bitters, giving it another stir to incorporate all of the ingredients. Feel free to add more honey if you like it a little sweeter! Garnish with a cinnamon stick or grated cinnamon.
“Nightcap was created specifically as a dessert menu cocktail for the 630 Park Restaurant. I have always loved a boozy coffee cocktail, my mom used to make coffee with peppermint schnapps and Kahlua with creamer and whipped cream during the winter anytime we came over and visited. I always loved them, and it was always so comforting. Although hers were always extremely sweet, definitely a dessert in a cup! This one I wanted it to be sweet without losing the coffee flavor, and sophisticated enough to belong on a Steakhouse menu. This cocktail is a simple pour over, just adding each ingredient one after another, filling with coffee and topping it off with whipped cream and the chocolate shavings.” —Jessica Christensen, lead mixologist at Graton Resort & Casino in Sonoma County, CA
1 oz. Myers’s dark rum
½ oz. Mozart chocolate cream liqueur
½ oz. Frangelico
Chocolate shavings, garnish
Method: In a coffee mug (ours is a 12-ounce coffee glass) pour the Myers’s Dark Rum. Add the Mozart chocolate liqueur. Add the Frangelico. Fill with coffee and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
SPIKED MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
“The Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate made with Gran Centenario Añejo is the perfect cocktail for the holiday season. The añejo tequila offers aromatic notes of toasted oak, chocolate, caramel, and nuts, which is complemented by the chili powder and cinnamon—a great way to stay warm on those cold nights.” —Jaime Salas, head of agave advocacy at Gran Centenario
Ingredients (Yields 4 Servings)
6 oz. Gran Centenario Añejo Tequila
4 cups of milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
½ tsp. cayenne powder
1 cinnamon stick
Method: Add milk, cayenne, and cinnamon to a large sauce pan. Mix and heat at medium-low temperature. Add chocolate, then swizzle and stir with a traditional Mexican molinillo or whisk until dissolved and frothy. Pour 1.5 oz Gran Centenario Añejo tequila in each mug and fill to top with finished hot chocolate. Add sugar to taste. Makes 4 servings.
HOT APPLE PIE MARGARITA
“The Fresh Victor jalapeño and lime brings a spicy margarita kick while the apple cider and baking spices add the apple pie in this delicious mash-up of a twisted margarita that can be served hot or cold. The hot version is especially intriguing as it really brings out both the spicy heat of the jalapeño and the warming heat of the baking spices.” —H. Joseph Ehrmann, chief mixology officer at Fresh Victor
1.5 oz. Fresh Victor Jalapeño & Lime
1.5 oz. apple cider
1.5 oz. tequila (any aging)
2 shakes pumpkin pie spice (store bought or homemade)
Dehydrated apple slice
Method: In a small pot add all ingredients plus 2 oz. of water and warm on the stove until reaching desired temperature. Pour into a hot mug and garnish.
ALL BUTTERED UP
“This cocktail in particular is quite versatile in that you can choose your cocktail base spirit. It’s best with darker aged spirits such as whiskey, brandy, aged rum, and even añejo tequila. This cocktail is a riff on the classic Hot Buttered Rum, but we sweeten and spice up the butter. We call this ‘butter batter’. This can be made ahead of time and be kept in the fridge for whenever you wish to impress guests with a delicious hot cocktail. The water can be switched out for tea if you have a favorite winter warming tea.” —Sean McClure, master mixologist and beverage director at The Ivory Peacock, New York, NY
2 oz. rye whiskey
4 oz. hot water
2.5 tbsp. butter batter*
1 stick salted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of allspice
10 ashes Angostura Bitters
* Spiced Cocktail Butter Batter: Cream all ingredients together using a kitchen-aid or a hand mixer. Roll the batter into 2.5 tbsp. Sized balls and place them in a sealable container. Cover and store in the fridge for up to a month.
Method: Warm your glass/mug with hot water. Discard the water. Add butter batter ball to the mug and top with the whiskey and the hot water. Using a swizzle stick, a small whisk, or a small fork, vigorously mix the cocktail until the butter batter is fully dissolved.