The Ten: Winter Cocktails Around the Country

With the weather dropping, there’s nothing better than a great winter cocktail to start the evening. Whether you prefer a warming Hot Toddy or a classic bourbon-spiked cider, we have compiled top winter cocktails from across the country to please all taste palates.

1) Prado 86 from Green Russell (Denver)


In a swanky underground lair in downtown Denver, Green Russell’s beverage director, Adam Hodak, presents the ideal cure for winter chill. The Prado 86 offers the warmth and kicked-up smokiness of Sombra mezcal and black-pepper syrup, balanced with the brightness of fresh-pressed pineapple juice, blood-orange juice and orange liqueur.


For the black-pepper syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • ¾ tsp ground pepper

For the cocktail:

  • ½ ounce black pepper syrup
  • 1 ½ ounces Sombra Mezcal
  • 1 ounce Leopold’s American Orange Liqueur
  • 1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
  • ¾ ounce fresh blood-orange juice
  • ¼ ounce allspice dram liqueur, preferably St. Elizabeth
  • Orange peel, optional as garnish


  1. To make the syrup, combine the ingredients in a small saucepot over high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain pepper out with cheesecloth or a fine sieve. Let cool.
  2. To make the cocktail, shake all ingredients and strain over ice in a tall glass. Add 1/4 ounce of allspice dram liqueur as a float, and garnish with an orange peel. Note: The recipe only calls for ½ ounce of syrup. The rest can be saved in the fridge for up a week; it is great for additional cocktails, or pairs intriguingly well with melon or over vanilla ice cream.

2) Lime Light from Luma on Park (Winter Park, Florida)

Lime Light

Taking full advantage of both citrus and peppermint, Winter Park favorite sipping spot Luma on Park has invented the Lime Light. The drink features a bold combination of wasabi vodka, lime, cucumber, peppermint, lemon and ground red peppercorn that make for a perfectly sweet, spicy and refreshing winter libation.


For the ginger simple syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 10-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

For the cocktail:

  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 cucumber slice
  • 1 mint leaf
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces wasabi-flavored vodka
  • ½ ounce ginger simple syrup
  • ¼ ounce Lemon Sour soda
  • Ground red peppercorn, as garnish


  1. To make the simple syrup, bring the water an sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add ginger, remove from heat and let steep at least 30 minutes, up to an hour. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and store in the refrigerator, up to two weeks.
  2. To make the cocktail, muddle lime, cucumber, and mint in a glass shaker. Fill with ice and add vodka, ginger simple syrup, and lemon sour. Shake vigorously and double strain into a red peppercorn rimmed martini glass.

3) Italian Hot Toddy from Coppa (Boston)

Italian Hot ToddyAt Coppa, the Boston enoteca from chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, the Italian Hot Toddy is one of the most popular winter beverages on the menu. Beverage director Mary Edes created this Italian spin on the classic, using Meletti Amaro. “The flavor spectrum of an amaro can go from sweet to very bitter,” Edes said. “This warming variation on a Hot Toddy uses Meletti Amaro which has just the right amount of sweetness to complement the acidity from the lemon, and you don’t need the addition of sugar or honey like in a traditional Toddy. The cloves, anise and cinnamon all highlight the spices in the amaro as well.”


  • 1 ½ ounces amaro, preferably Meletti brand
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Hot water


  1. Mix ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat on medium-high, just until hot. Pour into a mug and drink immediately.

4) Kith and Kin from Cusp Dining and Drinks (La Jolla, California)

Kith and Kin
Kith and Kin is old English for “friends and family,” making this cool-weather sipper perfect for entertaining. Created by bartender Nate Howell, this cocktail is packed with seasonal ingredients, including cinnamon-infused pear cordial, Yellow Chartreuse, cognac, fresh grapefruit, agave and hot water.


For the cinnamon-infused pear brandy:

  • 10 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle pear brandy

For the agave syrup:

  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup hot water

For the cocktail:

  • 1 ½ ounces cinnamon-infused pear brandy
  • ½ ounce Yellow Chartreuse
  • ½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840
  • ¼ ounce agave syrup
  • Hot water
  • Lemon peel, for garnish
  1. To make the cinnamon-infused pear brandy, take 10 sticks of cinnamon, wrap in a towel and smash to pieces. Transfer the crushed cinnamon pieces to a bottle of pear brandy. Let sit 3 to 5 days, depending on desired cinnamon flavor.
  2. To make the agave syrup, add hot water to a cup of agave nectar. Stir until the consistency is runny like a syrup.
  3. Combine the cinnamon-infused pear brandy, Yellow Chartreuse, Pierre Ferrand, agave syrup, and grapefruit juice in a mixing glass and stir. Pour in an Irish Coffee Mug and top with hot water. Rub a lemon peel over the surface and around the rim and garnish with a cinnamon stick.


5) The Old Twelfth Night from South Water Kitchen (Chicago)

Twelfth Night
Chicago’s South Water Kitchen combines potent 101-proof bourbon (Wild Turkey 101), apple brandy, lemon juice and thyme syrup in its The Old Twelfth Night cocktail to create a steaming wintery concoction perfect for combating the winter blues.


For the thyme syrup:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh thyme

For the cocktail:

  • 1 ounce bourbon (preferably Wild Turkey 101)
  • ¾ ounce apple brandy (preferably Laird’s brand)
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce thyme syrup
  • Boiling water
  • Baked apple slice or apple chip, as garnish


  1. To make the thyme syrup, throw all the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and let it cool. Strain.
  2. To make the cocktail, combine all of the ingredients in an Irish coffee glass and fill with boiling water. Garnish with a baked apple slice.

6) Snowflake from Hyde Bellagio (Las Vegas)

Hyde Bellagio’s Snowflake is a delicate and pure drink that packs an icy bite thanks to a splash of liquid nitrogen. Served in a glass “frosted” by freshly fallen coconut “snowflakes” and sweetened with Malibu Rum, the cocktail is as delicious to sip as it is to admire.


  • Coconut flakes
  • ¾ ounce Ciroc Coconut
  • ¾ ounce Malibu Rum
  • ¾ ounce white cranberry juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • Ice
  • 3 drops of liquid nitrogen float.


  1. Rim a martini glass with coconut flakes. Combine all ingredients except liquid nitrogen in a shaker, then strain into the martini glass. Garnish with three drops of liquid nitrogen float.

7) Apple Cider Manhattan from Westend Bistro (D.C.)

Apple Cider ManhattanFew cocktails are better winter fallbacks than a Manhattan. This D.C. restaurant spices up the whiskey classic, using reduced apple cider for a great whiff of cinnamon and spice.


For the apple cider reduction:

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole all spice
  • 1 tablespoon whole clove
  • 2 tablespoons whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

For the cocktail:

  • 2 ounces bourbon (preferably Angel’s Envy)
  • 1 ½ ounce apple cider reduction
  • ¼ ounce sweet vermouth
  • Dash of aromatic bitters
  • Apple chip, for garnish


  1. To make the cider reduction, combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Reduce by half and strain. The reduction will keep in an airtight container in the fridge, up to two weeks.
  2. To make the cocktail, combine all liquid ingredients in a martini shaker, combine all ingredients. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple chip, if desired.


8) The Cinnamon Twist from Pink Taco Sunset Strip (Los Angeles)


The Cinnamon Twist combines Don Julio Anejo, apple cider and cranberry juice for a fruity twist. The peppers add a spicy kick.


For the cinnamon-infused simple syrup:

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 ½ cups sugar

For the cocktail:

  • 3 slices serrano peppers
  • ½ ounce cinnamon-infused simple syrup
  • 1 ½ ounces tequila (preferably Don Julio Anejo)
  • 1 ½ ounces apple cider (preferably homemade)
  • ½ ounce cranberry juice
  1. In a small sauce pot, add water and cinnamon, bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the cinnamon sticks. Return water to a boil, add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, up to three weeks.
  2. To make the cocktail, combine serrano peppers and simple syrup in a mixing tin, muddle. Add remaining ingredients and top with large ice cubes. Shake and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

9) The Ginseng Glow from Middle Branch (New York)

Ginseng Glow

In China, ginseng is commonly used as a warming agent, so Lucinda Sterling of New York’s Middle Branch decided to take advantage. To make her Ginseng Glow, Sterling combines rum, lime juice and Aperol with ginseng tea powder.


  • 1 ounce  rum, preferablySanta Teresa “1796”
  • ½ ounce Aperol
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce honey syrup (3 parts honey to 1 part warm water)
  • 1 packet of KGC Pure Ginseng tea powder
  • Brut Champagne


  1. Add all ingredients, except Champagne, into a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Shake and strain into a chilled Champagne flute.
  3. Top with Brut Champagne.




10) Hot Chocolate Mark from Top of the Mark (San Francisco)

Hot Chocolate Mark

Warm up at home with this adult hot chocolate, served at Top of the Mark in San Francisco’s iconic InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel. Made with crème de menthe and peach liqueur, the Hot Chocolate Mark doubles as a cocktail and dessert. Garnish with red chile for an extra kick.


  • ½ ounce white crème de menthe
  • ¾ ounce peach liqueur, preferably Southern Comfort® brand
  • ½ ounce vodka
  • Hot chocolate


  1. Shake all ingredients vigorously and serve in a tall  mug.