As the weather turns colder and the nights grow longer, we can say farewell to days of sipping spritzes and Strawberry Daiquiris as the sweat rolls down our backs. No, now is the time for spirituous concoctions that will warm us from within and soothe our souls.
When it comes to choosing a spirit for cold weather cocktails, whiskey is an ideal pick thanks to its wide range of styles that carry their own singular flavor profiles. Whether it’s rye’s signature spice, bourbon’s trademark sweetness, or Scotch’s beloved essence of peat, there’s a whiskey — and a whiskey cocktail — for everyone, all of which will bring an air of comfort to even the darkest winter days. Read on for 13 of the best whiskey cocktails for cold weather.
The Hot Toddy
It wouldn’t be a warming cocktail roundup without the Hot Toddy. Made with the whiskey of your choice as its base — we’re partial to bourbon — lemon juice, honey, and hot water, it’s a soothing cocktail that may even help you fight off a pesky cold. If you want to spice things up, try a Cranberry Apple Hot Toddy for an extra seasonal flair.
Something of a sibling to the Negroni, the Boulevardier was first created in the 1920s by Erskine Gwynne, an American living in Paris. The libation swaps in bourbon for the Negroni’s classic gin base and tempers it with Campari and sweet vermouth. The resulting cocktail is definitively boozy, and delivers rich and zesty flavors ideal for enjoying fireside.
The Old Fashioned
Developed sometime in the 19th century, the Old Fashioned is one of the world’s oldest cocktails, and is a classic standby for when the air turns brisk. The beauty of the Old Fashioned is its simple build: a combination of bourbon, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters served with an orange twist that’s just as easy to prepare as it is to enjoy. If you’re looking to up the ante, consider sampling a riff like the Walnut and Maple Old Fashioned.
Starring a base of rye whiskey, the Manhattan was developed in New York City in the 1870s for Samuel J. Tilden, a hometown presidential candidate. Its build employs rye, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters for a smooth yet brisk libation. The cocktail is also easily riffed upon: Let the Black Manhattan, the Honey Rye Manhattan, or the Maple Bacon Manhattan expand your horizons.
The Rob Roy
While there may not be many popular Scotch cocktails in the world, the Rob Roy is definitely one that should be on your radar as winter rounds the bend. Reportedly created at NYC’s Waldorf Astoria, the drink serves as a variation of the Manhattan, swapping out blended Scotch for rye whiskey. The resulting cocktail is smoky and strong, but handily maintains balance.
The Old Pal
A variation of the Boulevardier (which itself is a variation of the Negroni), the Old Pal was first published in 1922 by Scottish bartender Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The cocktail sees bourbon or rye stirred with dry vermouth and Campari, and while it’s served up rather than in a rocks glass like the Boulevardier, you should still be sure to garnish with an orange peel before serving.
The Vieux Carré
First stirred up in 1938 at the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar in New Orleans, the Vieux Carré combines rye whiskey, Cognac, sweet vermouth, and Benedictine with dashes of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters. The potent cocktail takes on spiced flavors similar to that of the Manhattan accompanied by herbaceous notes and hints of vanilla and anise.
The American Trilogy
Created in 2007 at NYC cocktail institution Little Branch, the American Trilogy is a sparkling spin on the Old Fashioned. The cocktail employs a joint base of rye whiskey and bonded applejack, which provide a robust and complex backbone that’s sweetened with brown sugar and balanced with orange bitters. The build is topped off with a splash of soda water and garnished with an orange twist for acidity.
Originally referred to as the Fernet Cocktail, the Toronto was eventually renamed for its popularity in the Canadian city, and it’s the bitter cocktail of our dreams. The drink marries saffron-spiced liqueur, rye whiskey, and Demerara syrup for a complex profile riddled with rich, herbaceous flavors.
While the exact origins of the Godfather cocktail are unknown, it has been confirmed that the drink was inspired by the classic film trilogy of the same name. The concoction is simple, consisting of just blended Scotch and Italian amaretto, the latter of which is speculated to have been added to commemorate the trilogy’s infamous mafia boss. It’s unclear whether or not the film’s star, Marlon Brando, ever drank the cocktail as the Disaronno brand claims, but either way, its smoky oak and candied almond notes make it ideal for winter-weather imbibing.
While the Penicillin may not be able to fend off any actual infections, the cocktail does contain a number of ingredients that will warm up even the chilliest night. The drink combines blended Scotch, lemon juice, honey simple syrup, and ginger for a zippy sipper balanced by a smoked Scotch rinse.
Since its inception in the early 20th century, the Emerald has gone by numerous names including the Irish Manhattan and the Rory O’More, an homage to one of the four organizers of the 1641 Irish Rebellion. But as history has proven, the Emerald Isle’s nickname was the far more popular nomenclature. The cocktail combines Irish whiskey with sweet Italian vermouth and orange bitters, and is perfect for a nightcap.
Dead Rabbit’s Real Irish Coffee
The Irish Coffee was first created in Ireland in 1943, though NYC cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit serves what’s likely the most popular version this side of the Atlantic. The caffeinated cocktail combines Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey with Sumatra coffee and rich Demerara sugar syrup before a heaping pile of decadent whipped cream is added to the top. Equal parts boozy, warming, and sweet, the Irish Coffee is ideal for curling up with next to a fireplace when the winter chill seeps in.