When the weather outside is frightful, the only sensible solution is to warm up with a piping hot mug of booze. We’ve come a long way since the traditional hot toddy...while reliable, the evolution of classics at the hands of the country’s top bar crews is reliably inevitable, and the fruits of their labor are guaranteed to keep things interesting. So without further ado, and in the spirit of all things spirited, here’s a toast to our favorite hot cocktails around the country.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great hot drinks? Try making the Hot Apple Pie at home.
Leave it to Apotheke in NYC to bring together an American favorite and a Japanese specialty together in one steaming mug, married harmoniously by bright fruit and wintry nuttiness. The Paper Crane highlights amazake (a winter sake), along with persimmon, bourbon, cinnamon, and fresh chestnut, and is just as pleasurable to watch its creation as it is to drink. Then again, that’s pretty standard at Apotheke.
The only thing that makes a great hot cocktail even better is a pun to go along with it. Honey’s in Chicago hits the nail on the head with this riff on a Hot Toddy featuring spice-infused Rittenhouse rye, Amaro Montenegro, Regal English breakfast tea, honey and lemon juice, plus the obligatory hot water. It’s best when paired with basically anything from Chef Charles Welch’s menu.
(image: Andrew Miller)
It’s safe to assume that this drink, created by Jamie Evans for The Anderson in Miami, draws its name from the warm embrace that envelops your body and soul at each sip. It’s magic in a cup, made with Rutte Old Simon genever, Mandarine Napoléon liqueur, cranberry juice, apple juice, honey, lemon juice, hot water and a confetti of winter-inspired garnishes.
(image: Cynthia Lagos)
This hot Brazilian punch (pronounced “ken-tawm”) has been adapted by Jesse Card at Portland’s Bit House Saloon and combines Novo Fogo barrel-aged cachaça with cinnamon syrup, fresh lemon juice and a house-made Chantilly cream. Card’s North American version of the classic is a treat in itself, and when paired with the bar’s impeccable taste in vintage furniture, this cold-weather cocktail experience is pretty hard to beat.
Cider meets Toddy meets Caribbean vibes in this winter wunder cocktail hailing from The Sage Rabbit in Lexington, Ky. Bar manager Joann Greenwood uses Stella Artois Cidre, tangerine, fresh ginger root, Jamaican allspice, candied butternut squash, oregano, sage and dark brown sugar in the aptly named Stella Artois Cidre Spiced Toddy. And while oregano doesn’t typically make too many cameos on cocktail lists, it’s a welcome (and surprisingly complementary) component in this perfectly balanced hot cocktail.
Boozy coffee lovers, eat your heart out. Marty Chronsiter at Frank in Austin (a haven of hot dogs and quality cocktails) takes the old cup of joe to the next level by adding a brown sugar cinnamon syrup to a mug of coffee and topping it with a BrancaMenta foam, proving that you can indeed add mint to coffee and take no prisoners.
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi’s cozy restaurant features both adobe fireplaces and Ancho Reyes–liqueur-spiked hot chocolate, so it’s a win all around (even if winter in Santa Fe is mild at worst). Grab a Lucha Libre (Republic reposado tequila, Kahlúa, Ancho Reyes liqueur, Mexican hot chocolate, a dollop of whipped cream and a cinnamon stick), and curl up on the patio while counting your blessings that you can do so without your cocktail (and your body) dropping to freezing temperatures.
While cider is lovely on its own, there are times when one can’t help but look at it and think, That sure could use some amaro. In true form, the Avec Nous at the Viceroy L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills delivers this beautifully balanced cider/amaro combo featuring Templeton rye, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia and house-made spiced cider (dried orange peel, juniper, cinnamon, cloves and star anise), served steaming hot in a glass mug topped with apple cider bitters and some serious garnish game. Just remember to keep your pinkies up.
There’s no one better qualified to serve up the best stateside Irish Coffee than the guys at The Dead Rabbit, for obvious reasons. Dale DeGroff’s classic iteration is one of epic proportions, combining Clontarf Irish whiskey, hot Carmo de Minas coffee and demerara simple syrup, all topped with hand-shaken (and never sweetened) heavy whipping cream.
“I’m Italian mostly, but I’ve enjoyed the luck of the Irish at exactly the moments I most needed it,” says DeGroff. “One of those moment was stepping behind the bar in 1975 at Charley O’s Bar and Grill in NYC. Joe Baum, a master of the details that make greatness in the hospitality business, opened Charley O’s in Rockefeller Center in the early 1960s. Senator Patrick Moynihan chose Charley O’s as the venue for his St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, and that tradition continued for two decades, joined by crowds of resellers. At the center of that celebration was Charley O’s Irish Coffee, the third best in the world after Joe Sheridan’s revival of the drink in San Francisco at the world famous Buena Vista Cafe. With this recipe, I am evoking the spirit of Joe’s greatness at The Dead Rabbit, where from this day forward you will find the world’s best Irish coffee.”
Mixing your cocktail