Now that the harvest festivals are over and the longest night is past, it's time to accept that we’re in the depths of winter.
Instead of squirreling away under heavy covers, our careful, considered advice is to warm up with good company and a nice hot cocktail. (Or maybe: do both!) Whether it's après-ski, a comforting warmer after a morning's sledding, or just something enjoyed after dinner by the fire, a hot cocktail is one of winter's great pleasures. Here, we’ve collected three easy, satisfying ones that need little more than what you have in your sideboard.
The Classic Hot Toddy - (Image by Wine Enthusiast)
The toddy, which can be served both hot and cold, is one of our earliest recorded cocktails. Served cold, it's much less bracing, so the hot version has remained a staple across North America and the colder, damper parts of the UK. We heartily recommend using a pot-stilled spirit — the additional weight and body is crucial to the overall effect. If you're a fan of peaty whiskey, this is a great chance to perfume the room.
2oz pot-stilled whisky such as a highland malt Scotch, Irish whisky, or American single malt
~8oz hot (but not boiling) water
1 teaspoon sugar
Lemon twist to garnish
Fill your mug with hot water and let stand for about 90 seconds to temper the ceramic or footed glass mug. Discard the water and add sugar and spirit, using a muddler to break up the sugar. Add 4oz of hot water to combine; stir until the sugar dissolves, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Stone Fence Cider
Stone Fence Cocktail - (Image by Punch)
The stone fence — a mix of spirits and hard cider that was easy to warm up for a guest who had traveled from afar — dates back to the 18th-century American northeast. Common drams in New England would have been imported brandy or domestically-produced rum, though a fine whisky will stand strong here. The cider should be minimally processed and alcoholic, though some prefer a cloudy, fresh-pressed one. We suggest using a bonded applejack — the American classic of brandies — but cognac will do nicely.
1.5 oz brandy
3oz strong cider
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Temper the mug or glass with warm (but not boiling) water — let stand for 90 seconds and discard. Mix the brandy and cider in the cup, dash bitters on top, and serve warm and jovial.
Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Butter Rum - (Image by Cocktail Ways)
A New England classic from when molasses-derived rum was the most notable American spirit — before expansion over the Appalachians birthed bourbon and rye. The name is exactly the ingredients, with a sliver of butter adding weight and body to the drink. A few dashes of Angostura bitters or a sprinkle of nutmeg are a perfect garnish.
1.5 oz dark rum
1 teaspoon dark sugar
1 pat of butter (Your mileage will vary, but approximately 1 teaspoon. As for salted or unsalted, we are agnostic — both have their merits and are worth trying)
2 dashes Angostura bitters