It’s the most wonderful time of year — when the days grow shorter, the sunsets more colorful, and gin is replaced with whiskey on those cold evenings (or to soothe a sore throat). Because sometimes you just need a little something to keep you warm and comfortable at night. Or maybe the latest polar plunge has trapped you inside and you just need to throw down some cocktails to ward off cabin fever.
While most people usually think “warm” will do the trick, one of my all-time favorite winter cocktails is actually a cold standard: the Old Fashioned. Most recipes call for a couple ounces of your favorite bourbon or rye whiskey, some Angostura bitters, an orange peel, and either a quarter ounce of simple syrup or sugar cube. Add the ingredients together, muddle it to break down the sugar and release the citrus, and then stir and pour into a rocks glass with ice. Then, top it off with a cherry and sit back in front of the fire.
Rather than list all my other favorite cold-weather cocktails, I’ve gone straight to the source and enlisted Kimpton’s Lead Bartender, Jacques Bezuidenhout, to share three of his favorite winter tipples. The first two come from San Francisco, where Kimpton has nine boutique hotels and restaurants, and the final drink is his own concoction. Pour, mix, sip and enjoy!
The Heated Affair
2 ounces Partida Añejo Tequila
6 ounces hot spiced-apple cider
Warm a small wine glass with hot water, then toss the water and add Tequila and hot apple cider. Float heavy cream. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg over the cream.
Apple cider preparation: In a pot, mix organic apple juice and winter spices like cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice and orange peel. Bring everything to a low heat for about 15 minutes and then taste for flavor. When the desired flavor is reached, take it off the stove. Strain out the spices and orange peel, serve warm, and enjoy.
Kyoto Winter Warmer
Brian Means, Dirty Habit, Hotel Palomar San Francisco
1 ounce Yamazaki 12 Year Old whiskey
2 ounces hot water
4 drops cacao tincture
1 Meyer lemon peel
Crush the clove and lemon peel in a small saucepan and then add Yamazaki and hot water. While this is steeping, add hot water to a snifter or a small Belgian beer glass. Once the glass is warm, discard the water and pour the hot cocktail mix into the glass. Garnish with four drops of cacao tincture.
Served wherever Jacques is mixing it up!
1½ ounces Cognac
1½ ounces 10-year aged tawny port
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
Dash of Angostura bitters
3 ounces hot water
Build all ingredients in a heated brandy snifter and garnish with grated cinnamon.