While I have remarked in the past how California never gets particularly winter-like, and this year’s Indian Summer has bolstered my point, it is undeniable that the nights have begun to get a bit more nippy lately and it is the popular opinion around here that Fall has arrived. People, when thinking of Spirits to drink in the Fall and Winter, certainly turn towards the darker stuff: customers are drinking more Whisky and Cognac to warm their bellies on the chillier nights. There are, however, also a variety of distinct cocktails that won’t just make you feel warmer, but are prepared hot especially for winter imbibing. I recently harvested some of the more unique yet supremely delicious witch’s brews from forgotten recipe books and the dankest, darkest black magic pubs around. The following is a prime selection of hot drinks that will excite your palate and steel you against the frigid winter winds.
Good Night Tea
• ¾ oz Gran Gala Orange Liqueur ($20.99)
• ¾ oz Lazzaroni Amaretto Liqueur ($22.99)
• Mango Green Tea
• Orange wheel for garnish
While you steep your tea in a mug (or make a larger amount in a pitcher if you have guests or know you’ll want seconds), pour the Gran Gala and Lazzaroni into a Brandy snifter. When your tea is hot and ready, pour it over the Liqueurs in the snifter and then place the wheel of orange inside to float on the liquid’s surface. The Liqueurs and the citrus create a swirl of interesting and delicious flavors, but the tea keeps everything soothing and relaxing. Definitely one to curl up on the couch with on a cold, dark night. Try switching up your tea choice for a different twist of flavor each time you have this.
In particular, I’ve found that a Chamomile Citrus or Peach Oolong tea make pitch perfect versions of this drink.
• 3 oz Leopold Brothers Navy Strength American Gin 114 Proof ($46.99)
• 1 oz lemon juice
• 5 oz boiling water
• 1 tsp sugar Well, the assembly of this little number is easy enough, and familiar to most individuals.
Toddies are a classic cold-time cocktail, but this one makes use of Gin as opposed to the more traditional Rum or Whisky fair. Place the Gin, lemon juice, and sugar into a toddy glass or a mug, and then pour the hot water over it, melting the sugar and melding all the flavors together. Give it a stir and you’ll instantly get hit by the full aromatics of this beverage. The citrus and juniper flavors burst from the glass and cut through the winter ice.
• 1 bottle Quinta do Infantado NV Ruby Port ($17.99)
• 1 cup water
• 2 oz sugar
• 1 ½ oz lemon juice
• 1 navel orange
• (at least) 8 whole cloves
You’ll need a little bit of prep time with this one, but any guests you have over for your winter shindig will thank you for the extra time expenditure. Stab the cloves into the orange, then place it on a baking sheet and put it into an oven preheated to 350 degrees and cook until the skin is lightly toasted (approximately 60 minutes). Remove from the oven and let it cool down a little. Pour the Port and water into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer, then add the sugar and lemon juice and stir. Cut the now room-temperature orange into chunks and add the pieces and any leaking juices into the saucepan for the flavors to meld. To serve to your partygoers, ladle the Bishop into small mugs so the drink stays warm.
• 1 ½ oz Larceny Bourbon ($23.99)
• Peppermint tea
• 1 tsp dark brown sugar
• Mint sprig
The classic Kentucky summer cocktail standby gets a renovation here, making it perfect for any winter night in which you happen to have a sweet tooth and a craving for mint too. This drink also picks up a distinct twist from the change to brown sugar, instead of the white or powdered sugar used to make the summer mint julep. Larceny is one of the newest wheated Bourbons out on the scene right now and it has a full flavor, but remains especially smooth so it pairs quite well with the flavors of mint and brown sugar. This is my favorite cocktail currently, which makes sense with Whiskey and mint being two of my favorite things in this fine world. The mint and Bourbon combine to a nice spiciness, and the mint keeps the drink refreshing despite it being hot and sweet.
And now it seems like I’ve run out of blog space before I’ve run out of cocktails. But I guess that’s alright because the winter is a few months long, so we’ll probably all need a few more drinks to help us all get through the darker days. Stay tuned for part two where we’ll keep things cozy and show you some more uncommon hot cocktails.
Neal F., Beltramo’s Spirits Staff