It’s wintertime and the booze alone isn’t doing enough to keep us all warm. So we reached out to some of America’s best bartenders and convinced them to share their favorite hot cocktail recipes so you can have a toasty and boozy holiday season.
Harvard & Stone, Los Angeles
Listen, it may not get that cold in Southern California around this time of year, but you should still trust a bartender as good as Aaron Polsky to deliver a high quality take on this holiday classic.
HOT BUTTERED RUM
by Aaron Polsky
• ½ c. Cruzan blackstrap
• ⅓ c. Hamilton Ministry rum
• ⅓ c. Licor 43
• ½ stick butter
• 1 c. hot water
• 4 dashes bitters (if desired)
Combine all ingredients in a pot and warm to 160°. Serve in preheated cup or mug and top with grated cinnamon.
Clyde Common, Portland, OR
This flaming cocktail is a Portland institution, but there’s actually a purpose to setting the glass ablaze: The burning high-proof rum caramelizes the sugar on the rim.
by Jeffrey Morgenthaler
• ¾ oz. Lemon Hart 151-proof rum
• ¼ oz. Bols triple sec
• 1½ oz. Kahlua
• Hot coffee from a French press
• Lightly whipped cream
• Freshly grated nutmeg
Moisten the rim of an Irish coffee glass or small wine glass with a lime wedge. Dip rim in a shallow bowlful of sugar to coat; shake gently to discard any excess. Add rum and light on fire, holding the glass at an angle and turning slowly to caramelize the sugar. Add triple sec, Kahlua and coffee. Finish with cream and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.
RedFarm and Decoy, New York City
Your average packet of Swiss Miss will give you a pretty one-note hot chocolate, but Shawn at Red Farm adds depth and spice to his boozy cocoa with fresh grated ginger and ginger liqueur.
GINGER SPICE HOT COCOA
by Shawn Chen
• 3 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
• 3 c. whole milk
• ½ c. water
• ½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
• ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
• ½ tsp. grated ginger
• ¼ tsp. sea salt
In a heavy saucepan, pour in whole milk, water and unsweetened cocoa powder. Cook on medium heat and do not allow to boil. Whisk occasionally until cocoa powder is melted and mixture is well combined. Whisk in ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, grated ginger and sea salt. Immediately whisk in the Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, pour into a mug or glass.
Whisler’s, Austin, TX
Highlighting some of our favorite spices of the season–ginger, cinnamon and allspice–this is a great variation on the whiskey toddy.
by Brett Esler
• ¾ oz. Elijah Craig Small Batch Whiskey
• ½ oz. Lustau Solera Reserva Brandy de Jerez
• ¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
• ¼ oz. Honey syrup (1:1, honey:water)
• ¼ oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
• ¼ oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
• 3 oz. cinnamon-lemon infused hot water
Add all of the ingredients to a small toddy mug or punch glass and top with the cinnamon-lemon infused hot water. Garnish with a lemon slice and dust with nutmeg.
Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel, Palm Springs, CA
We all know Saint Nick delivers presents to all the good girls and boys, but in Central Europe, the half-goat demon Krampus comes to visit the bad ones on Christmas to hand out some punishment. But, if he’s bringing this boozy hot cocoa with him, we may rock with Krampus for the night.
by Colin Hood
• 1 oz. 100 proof German Peppermint Schnapps
• 1 oz. Irish cream
• 6 oz. milk-based hot cocoa
If you have an espresso machine at home or handheld milk frother, use it to aerate the hot cocoa, then add the Irish cream and schnapps and garnish with a candy cane.
Midnight Rambler, Dallas
If you’re looking to make your hot cocktail a little bit healthier, opt for this drink from one of Dallas’s best bars, a toddy with green tea.
APPLE CARDAMOM TODDY
by Christy Pope
• 2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
• ½ oz. lemon juice
• ½ oz. honey
• 3 oz. cardamom-infused Genmaicha green tea (add 1 cardamom pod to steep with the genmaicha tea)
Add all the ingredients to a toddy glass.
Junoon, New York City
From the Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Junoon comes a cocktail and a meal in one with this drink that’s essentially just a spiked butternut squash soup. We’re not complaining.
WINTER IS COMING
by Hemant Pathak
• 1½ oz. Laird’s Applejack
• ½ oz. coconut liqueur
• 4½ oz. Hemant’s Butternut Squash Soup (recipe below) or any store-bought butternut squash soup
Warm all three ingredients in a saucepan and serve in a glass, garnished with apple-chili oil and cinnamon dust.
HEMANT’S BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
• One butternut squash, peeled and diced
• 500 ml coconut milk
• 4 pieces star anise
• 3 sticks cinnamon
• 1 c. orange juice
• 1 tsp, allspice
• 1 tsp, coriander
• ½ tsp, cinnamon
• 1 whole clove
Place diced squash and spices (four pieces whole star and three cinnamon sticks) in a plastic bag and place inside water using sous vide for 30 minutes at 165°. Separate spices then blend squash to make a fine paste out of it.
Add orange juice, cinnamon, clove, allspice and coriander seeds to a sauce pot over medium heat. Allow the liquid to simmer until reduced by half, then remove from heat. Strain.
Heat saucepan on low to finish the squash paste and add the coconut milk and juice-spice reduction. Add salt and honey to balance the flavors. Store in an airtight plastic container and refrigerate.
The Late Late, New York City
This Irish coffee makes a stop south of the border to pick up a dash of mezcal to add to the pour of Jameson you’ve come to expect.
THE LATE LATE IRISH COFFEE
by Seth Allen
• 1 oz. Jameson Black Barrel
• ½ oz. Ilegal Mezcal Joven
• ½ oz. Grind Espresso Shot Liquor
• 4 oz. Late Late House Blend Coffee by Intelligentsia Coffee
Add all the ingredients to your favorite coffee mug, then top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream (recipe below) and garnish with a shaved Cadbury Irish chocolate over the top.
FRESH WHIPPED CREAM
• spoonful of Grind Espresso Shot Liquor
• 2 oz. Heavy Cream
• 2 oz. Simple Syrup
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake (sans ice) until thick.
Belle Shoals, Brooklyn
From our favorite Southern-inspired bar in the County of Kings comes a warm cider spiked with some corn whiskey and apple brandy.
BABY IT’S COLD OUT CIDER
by Alberto Miranda
• 1 gal. Red Jacket Spiced Cider
• 12 oz. lemon juice
• 4 oz. honey
• 16 oz. water
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 4 star anise
• 6 cloves
• ¾ oz. mellow corn whiskey
• ¾ oz. apple brandy
Combine all ingredients except alcohol on low heat in a pot, being mindful not to boil. Keep covered and add a few ounces of water every hour to replace evaporation. Pour a hearty serving in a mug and add the mellow corn whiskey and apple brandy. Garnish with Star Anise.
Birch, Los Angeles
This cocktail from one of Hollywood’s best restaurants gives a whole new meaning to spiced cider by flavoring the drink with a tikka masala simple syrup.
007 (PORT CIDER)
by Gaby Mlynarczyk
• ¾ oz. ruby port
• ¾ oz. plantation rum
• ¾ oz. lemon
• ¾ oz. tikka masala simple syrup
• 1 oz. apple cider
Add everything to a heavy-bottomed pan and heat through but don’t boil. Pour into glasses and garnish with apple or orange slices, black pepper and cloves.
Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel PGH, Pittsburgh
In 2005, New York bartender Sam Ross invented the Penicillin, a cocktail that when onto become a modern classic. Chase Johnson at Pittsburgh’s Ace Hotel has created a warm version to get you through winter.
A SHOT IN THE ARM
by Chase Johnson
• 1 heaping tbsp. fresh ginger
• 2 tsp. raw honey
• few dashes cayenne
• ½ c. boiling water
• ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
• 1½ oz. single malt scotch
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
Peel and dice ginger then add to mixing glass. Pour hot water over the ginger and steep for several minutes. Add honey, lemon juice, scotch, and stir gently to incorporate. Strain mixture into a glass, add dashes of cayenne. Float dash of Angostura on top. Garnish with lemon.
Jeremy Repanich is writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @racefortheprize.