You might think of gin as something you drink only on hot summer nights or in a classic Martini, but you can take this spirit to new levels all winter long. With notes of pine, purple flowers, lemons, roots and warming spices, gin is perfect for cold-weather-inspired cocktails.
From caffeinated takes on the Gin & Tonic, featuring coffee or chai, to a French 75 variation that uses cider instead of Champagne, these recipes show gin's intensity and aromatic potential. It's brawny enough to withstand the sort of full-flavored ingredients we all crave during the cold season, yet nuanced enough to demonstrate true versatility.
Brown spirits get so much love during winter, but there are other ways to warm yourself. These five recipes will have you sipping gin by the fireplace, pert and cozy.
Coffee & Cigarettes
It’s time to stop thinking about the Gin & Tonic as a basic two-ingredient recipe. Case in point is this coffee-laced cocktail by Alan Berger of Denver’s Ultreia, which marries the bitterness of java with the sweet tang of tonic. Berger pairs a Colorado gin, boasting notes of cardamom and cinnamon, with coffee liqueur, but any New Western-style gin would shine here. The result is smoky, sweet, warm and herbal—perfect for cold weather.
A purl is an old-school English drink involving hot ale––with or without warming spices added––and a dollop of gin. (The earliest incarnations of the drink go back as far as the 1600s, predating gin by about a century, and mostly used wormwood.) In this recipe, the ale is replaced with warm sparkling cider. The cider's fizz adds a refreshing sparkle, and maple adds butteriness. You may sip this drink and think it's laden with citrus, but save for the bitters and garnish, there's none. If you want a tamer drink, opt for nonalcoholic cider.
To adapt the classic French 75 to the colder months, give it a cider kick. The floral Nolet’s silver dry gin works so well with a slightly funky and refined French cidre that it's enough to make you forget the traditional Champagne version altogether. You can use any cider, really—just make sure it's a dry one. Any gin will work, too, and you could drink this as readily in the fall as in the winter. How's that for versatility?
Curiosity Killed the Cat, You Know
"This cocktail celebrates the roads less traveled and the curious flavors you find through the high mountains of Germany, France and Italy," says McLain Hedges, of Morin and RiNo Yacht Club in Denver. "The Macvin du Jura [liqueur wine] is floral and honeyed, with light tannin that helps to carry the cocktail. The génépy is herbal and sweet, lifting and adding depth at the same time. The gin is powerful yet balanced and has layers upon layers of aromatics and textures." And the chamomile tea is floral and soothing. The drink is like a classic Hot Toddy, but smooth, sophisticated and perfectly balanced.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Apple Chai G&T
A smooth American dry gin like Bluecoat works well in this delicate Gin & Tonic by Canyon Shayer of Philadelphia Distilling. The apple chai syrup is nuanced and not too sweet, so you don't want a strong spirit overpowering it. If you want a more powerful chai punch, steep the tea in the cider overnight or double the dose. Serve this at happy hour or as a brunch cocktail.