Legend has it that a nip of alcohol, be it brandy, whiskey, Scotch or rum, keeps a person warm in the freezing cold. Too good to be true, this undeniably romantic notion is actually a myth. But drinking potent, warming cocktails in winter is still something to look forward to each year.
Talented mixologists at some of the country’s top bars are turning out fortifying concoctions made with flavors that reflect the season—and carry a little more weight than their warm-weather contemporaries. “Ingredients like cinnamon, clove and maple combined with muskier, smokier-flavored liquors are almost always a winning cold-weather combination,” says Kenneth McCoy, of The Rum House in New York, whose Chalet Alpine cocktail makes use of bourbon, cream and cinnamon.
Some go in a different direction. The Mexican Rose, concocted by Kevin Diedrich at Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen in San Francisco, is a simple combination that includes añejo tequila, lemon juice and blood orange liqueur topped off with bubbly Lambrusco for depth. And the Caribbean Snowflake at Oven and Shaker in Portland, Oregon, has it both ways. Mixologist Ryan Magarian’s creation is a hybrid of eggnog and rum punch—a comfort cocktail with a tropical accent.
Still wondering what to drink? Our list of warming libations from some of the top bars in the United States will get you off to a good start.