There’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixing up some whiskey, lemon, cloves, honey, and cinnamon — otherwise known as the hot toddy. But there are plenty more hot winter cocktails out there. For generations, men and women around the world have crafted warm winter drinks, from spiked hot buttered rums and mulled wines to spiked coffees and hot chocolates.
Looking for a few to try? We spoke to a squad of New York City bartenders and asked them to share their hottest hot cocktail recipes. From variations on the classic hot toddy and the best damn boozy hot chocolate you’ll ever try, here are four excellent cold weather cocktails to try.
1. The Hot Teddy
Created by Amir Babayoff for Ophelia, NYC
Remember when your mother told you never to play with fire? Well, you’re going to need to disregard that bit of advice in order to make this next level hot toddy. Amir Babayoff, head bartender at Ophelia in New York City, starts with the rich and layered Barrell Craft Spirits Bourbon and adds a touch of French fortified wine for added complexity. Next, some Pineau des Charentes is brought in to bring out the softer part of the drink thanks to notes of peaches, prunes, plums and toasted nuts. Next comes caffeine-free orange and ginger tea. He adds Panella (unrefined sugar cane) with a blend of five winter spices (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom to finish it with a sweet complexity. Is it an easy cocktail to whip together? Definitely not. But the end result is very much worth the effort.
- 1.5 oz Barrell Whiskey
- 0.5 oz Pineau De Charente
- 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
- 0.75 oz Island Syrup Angostura Bitters
- 5 oz Hot Water
- 1 Ginger/Orange Spiced Tea Bag
Prepare two copper mugs with hot water. Empty one and add 5 oz hot water, tea bags, syrup, lemon juice, and bitters. Add Bourbon and Brandy to mug #2 and rinse. Light Mug #2 on fire and pour from mug to mug. Pour into a Snifter and garnish with Cinnamon Stick, Orange Peel and Star Anise.
2. Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
Created by Anthony Henirquez for Lumaca, NYC
Boozy hot chocolate is a pretty unbeatable winter drink. This version is a lighter, spicier play. “The traditional Italian hot chocolate is usually a rich and indulgent treat that’s perfect for a cold day,” says Beverage Director Anthony Henriquez. “But it might not be the best before or after a meal.” This version removes the heavier ingredients and the allspice. The remaining cinnamon and chili flavors blend well with the caramel notes of tequila (he uses Chamucos). Topped off with some freshly roasted marshmallows, it’s enough to make you forget about the cold for a few minutes.
- 3 cups hot milk
- 3 tbs cocoa powder
- 3 tbs granulated sugar
- 1/4 Tbs cinnamon
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 3 oz Chamucos Tequila
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a snifter, garnish with two roasted marshmallows.
3. Coffee & Cream
Created by Ryan Gavin for Gran Tivoli and Peppi’s Cellar
Spiked coffee makes a great pick-me-up for the colder months. Gavin’s Coffee & Cream is a decadently delightful variation with a chilled sweet vanilla cream crown that floats on top of the drink. “We were aiming for some sort of elevated Irish coffee style of drink that would show off not just the delicious espresso but some nutty and rich notes from the brandy and Vin Santo,” Gavin says. “By adding the Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur, we were able to elevate the natural coffee flavor and bring the sweetness up to that magical point that is lip smacking, but not too syrupy.”
- .75 oz Brandy
- .75 oz Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur
- .175 oz vin santo
- 1 oz espresso
- 2 oz hot water
- .75 vanilla cream
Directions: Build and layer all ingredients in a footed 6 oz. glass. Garnish with cacao and bee pollen.
4. The Rum Hot Toddy
Created by Kenneth McCoy, available at The Rum House, NYC
Simple and sweet, this Toddy variation is anchored with some stellar spiced rum for an added layer of warmth. “We make our Hot Toddy using Santa Teresa 1796 Rum,” says Kenneth McCoy, chief creative officer of the Rum House. “It’s rich, smooth and has hints of warming spices, that added with a hint of honey, fresh ginger and cinnamon is perfect for a winter warmer on a cold evening.”
- 2 oz El Dorado Spiced Rum
- .25 oz fresh lemon juice
- .50 oz Demerara syrup
- Hot water from a tea kettle
- 1 orange peel
- 1 lemon peel
- Slice of fresh ginger
- 3-4 cloves
- Cinnamon stick
Directions: Fill your Toddy glass with hot water from the kettle and cover the top with a plate to keep warm while preparing the drink. Place lemon peel, orange peel , cloves, fresh ginger and Demerara into a mixing glass use a muddler to lightly extract the juices from the zest’s and ginger. Add rum and lemon juice stir with a bar spoon. Dump water from your Toddy glass, and double strain the cocktail to remove the pulp. Add 3-4 ounces of hot water on top of liquid and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
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