It’s hard not to feel let down after the flurry of holidays. No more brightly colored lights or tinsel, no more presents wrapped with bows and, sadly, no more Eggnog. But January signals the start of a brand new year, and bright, spicy cocktails showcasing ingredients like chile liqueur and winter produce like pears and dates will help you shake the winter blues.
1. Love Sizzurp at Gracias Madre, Los Angeles
‘Tis the season for sniffles, so beverage manager Jason Eisner created a cocktail inspired by a wintertime staple: cough syrup. Although it won’t cure the common cold, the Love Sizzurp will give you a nice buzz. With its mix of tequila anejo, prickly pear and vanilla bean grenadine, lime juice and apple bitters, this drink will cure what ails you.
Velvet Goldmine co-owner Chad Solomon calls his cocktail a “diorama of birch and fir.” Its base spirit, Icelandic liqueur Bjork, is the distilled essence of birch wood, tasting of wintergreen, wood and honey. Cremant de Bourgogne provides the sparkle while two vermouths and Demerara sugar balance out the drink. Solomon rounds out the drink with a hit of an Oregon-made Douglas fir eau de vie.
3. By the Fireside, Up & Up, New York
Though it’s not served hot, the By the Fireside is a very cozy coffee cocktail. It combines the rich intensity of Croft 10-year-old tawny port and Café du Monde chicory coffee with lemon, nutmeg and cinnamon to create a light-bodied drink that’ll give you the warm fuzzies.
4. Pity and Pears, Sycamore Den, San Diego
Bartender Sarah Ellis created 11 winter cocktails to help make the cold season bearable. But her Pity and Pears, made with pear brandy, gin, Douglas fir liqueur, lime juice and honey, will spark memories of taking in the crisp, pine-scented air of some snowy mountaintop.
The Brandy Milk Punch is winter-fied in this new play on the classic. Made with a rich Medjool date–infused rum combined with heavy cream and brown sugar syrup, it’s the ideal cocktail to enjoy as dessert or as a decadent nightcap.
6. Warm and Toasty, Middle Branch, New York
Hot cocktails are popular during the colder months and most people shudder at the thought of drinking an icy cold cocktail on a freezing night. But Middle Branch managing partner Lucinda Sterling offers a happy medium in the form of a room temperature cocktail. It’s a warming blend of Cognac, orange essence, and ginger liqueur.
7. Liquid Currency, Julep, Houston
Since the New Year is usually kicked off with Champagne, there’s something right and perfect about sipping on a Champagne cocktail all month long. From Alba Huerta’s “Trading with the Enemy” themed winter menu, the Liquid Currency cocktail of sparkling wine, rose liqueur, Pinot Noir verjus, rhubarb amaro and egg white keep the festive feeling rolling.
8. Winnie Cooper, Cliff’s Edge, Los Angeles
Bartender Darwin Manahan’s Winnie Cooper is a Martini for the winter months. Chaucer mead and melted honey wax, used to add flavor without the sweetness, conspire with Ford’s Gin and Contratto Bianco to create a smooth sipper to see you through those long, cold nights.
A lighter take on the traditional milk punch, the Penelope Cruz is a clarified milk punch with ancho chile liqueur, tepache, rhum agricole, lemon, and clarified cream. After the heavy milk punches of the holidays this sweet, spicy punch is a welcome change of pace.
10. Long Strange Trip, Dirty Water, San Francisco
The Long Strange Trip reminds you of a warm pie baking in the kitchen. The candy cap mushroom–infused rye in the cocktail produces not earthy savoriness but rather a complex sweetness evocative of maple syrup with hints of baking spice. The smokiness of the Zucca Amaro, the heat of the black pepper as well as the brightness of the lemon round out the cocktail.
11. Fireside Chat, Teardrop Lounge, Portland, OR
The Fireside Chat cocktail is the definition of cozy. The housemade Amer Picon’s pronounced but pleasant bitterness plays nicely with the Clear Creek pear brandy and stands up to the robust Bols Genever. The aromatics of the Bee Local’s cherrywood-smoked honey finishes the cocktail, evoking a smoldering fireplace.