From layering chic jackets over sundresses, to integrating warm weather loungewear into wintry outfits, professional stylists and aspiring fashionistas alike love making summer staples work for cooler weather.
But what about those of us who collect bourbon bottles rather than shoes? “I often come across customers who only drink clear [spirits] in the summer and spring,” says Mother’s Milk Delivery founder Constance Zaytoun. “In the winter, they would move to the browns, which I always thought was sort of odd.” Rather than leaving behind their favorite gin, rum, and vodka drinks in the winter, inventive bartenders have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to transform the bright, refreshing cocktails of summer into rich, decadent concoctions ideal for snow day sipping.
At Angel’s Share alum Shige Kabashima’s NYC restaurant NR, the menu boasts a handful of cocktails that can be both served over ice, or warm in a mug. For example, he offers his Apple Pie cocktail — a milk-washed drink made with gin, calvados, apple, fig, Earl Grey tea, ginger, cinnamon, and sansho pepper — both ways. The hot version adds in clarified butter for added richness.
Playing with hot and cold versions of drinks gives bartenders a chance to expand their menus without having to purchase additional bottles, and allows home mixologists to use what’s already on their bar cart year-round. From Margaritas to Aperol Spritzes, read on for tips from the pros on how to effortlessly bring your favorite summer cocktails into the winter months.
Fireside French 75s
Ask most American bartenders for a French 75, and they’ll serve you a bubbly drink made with Champagne, gin, and lemon juice in a flute glass. But in New Orleans, French 75s are most often made with Cognac.
“What happens in New Orleans is that a lot of people, because they know both drinks are both French 75s, have devised a summer French 75 and a winter 75,” Abigail Gullo, director of Bartender’s Circle, says. “So the gin version would be your summer and then the winter would be Cognac.” While the summer version is bright enough to drink on sweltering afternoons, the latter is luscious and warming, making it perfect to enjoy during the holiday season.
The summertime staple Margarita is ripe with the quaffable flavors of agave, lime, and orange liqueur. And while warm weather calls for cooling ingredients, you don’t have to kiss the tequila drink goodbye after the first snowfall.
To winterize the drink, Zaytoun suggests incorporating orgeat — a nut and orange flower-based syrup — into the recipe. “I make my own pistachio orgeat and substitute that for triple sec or Combier. I’ve done that with my Margaritas in the winter, and it’s delightful,” she says. “It’s creamy and it’s still got a little body to it.”
“An Aperol Spritz [enjoyed] sitting out on a veranda somewhere is the bomb,” Zaytoun says. If you want to translate that experience to sitting inside and freezing your butt off, just swap the Aperol for amaro. She suggests trying your next cold- weather spritz with Meletti, a liqueur with notes of caramel, cinnamon, and deep orange.
Another pro-approved tip is to infuse your Aperol with wintry spices like cinnamon and star anise. “Drop a couple of fresh cranberries in that glass along with an orange slice studded with cloves, and you’ve got Christmas in a glass,” Gullo says.
Cool Weather Gimlets and Daiquiris
Both the Gimlet and Daiquiri are made with lime juice, simple syrup, and a spirit — the former with gin and the latter with rum. Quaffable drinks often enjoyed on summer nights out, their simple, citrus-forward flavor profiles make them relatively simple to riff on.
One way the pros do so is by adding absinthe. “Just that little hint of an anesthetic in the glass would really make all the flavors pop,” Gullo says. Just remember: When it comes to the green fairy, less is more, and in many cases, just a rinse will do.
“Maybe people don’t drink a gin Gimlet as much in the winter,” Zaytoun says, “but a way to ‘winterize’ that is to make it into a French Pearl.” This anise-infused variation involves rinsing your glass with absinthe before adding the rest of the ingredients, imparting a warm spice note that enhances gin’s herbaceous flavors.
Another option is to go for unique spirits. For the Gimlet, seek out a barrel-aged gin to enhance the spice and pine notes of the cocktail; Making a Daiquiri? Try rhum agricole, a rum made from fresh-pressed sugar cane juice rather than the typical molasses. “It’s just grassy and green and funky,” Gullo says. “Like a Daiquiri star that should be on the top of a Christmas tree.”
The whiskey highball, a simple, two-ingredient cocktail adored by Japanese mixologists and cocktail aficionados worldwide, is made with just whiskey and sparkling water. Despite using a darker spirit as its base, it’s a surprisingly light and effervescent drink, making it less intuitive for enjoying in the colder months.
The best way to winterize this riffable drink is to incorporate ingredients that elevate the depth of the whiskey within it by adding spiced syrups or a hefty dose of bitters to bring out whiskey’s peppery aromas.
Want to forgo the whiskey altogether? Zaytoun is partial to using applejack, a sweet apple-based brandy. “Instead of doing a whiskey highball, I would do a Jack Rose, which is applejack, Grenadine — which is basically pomegranate syrup — and lemon,” she says.
Christmas Tree Mojitos
Rum often conjures up images of tropical resorts and frozen drinks sipped oceanside, so it’s no surprise that the spirit goes underutilized in the winter. With warming notes of vanilla and cinnamon — especially when aged rum is part of the equation — drinks that use this spirit can be surprisingly adaptable. If you have lingering doubts that a classic Mojito can be made wintry, Gullo suggests envisioning the drink’s Christmas tree potential. To lean into its visual appeal, she looks to the traditional Cuban Mojito, which adds a few dashes of Angostura bitters on top. “So it’s actually red, white and green,” she says. Plus, “those bitters give it a nice kind of winter spice.”