As the groundhog once again disappoints us and winter seems to never end, there’s no better time to start taking hot cocktails seriously. No longer reserved for the après-ski crowd, the category is being embraced by top cocktail bars in mountain towns and urban hubs alike.
Proving there’s so much more to the hot drink category than stale Toddies and saccharine mulled wines, here are 10 innovative hot cocktails, crafted by some of the best bartenders in America.
The Dead Rabbit’s Real Irish Coffee Recipe
Created by Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon of the Dead Rabbit, named best bar in the world in 2016, this may just be the most famous Irish Coffee recipe outside of the Emerald Isle. Made with freshly roasted Sumatra coffee, Irish whiskey, Demerara syrup, and topped with plenty of whipped cream, this mug won’t disappoint.
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- 1 ounce Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey
- ⅝ ounce rich Demerara sugar syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)
- 3 ¼ ounces Sumatra coffee
- Garnish: fresh whipped cream & nutmeg
- Pour the coffee and sugar syrup into a 6-ounce glass, leaving about half an inch of room for cream.
- Garnish with freshly whipped cream and a dusting of grated nutmeg.
Annette Scratch to Table’s Affordable Pear Act
Located just outside of Denver, Aurora, Colo., is a town full of mountain weekenders in search of a warm tipple to beat the winter chill. This drink, from Annette Scratch to Table, accomplishes just that by combining apple brandy infused with the calming notes of pear tea, honey, and lemon.
- 2 ounces pear chamomile-infused apple brandy (recipe follows)
- ¼ ounce honey simple syrup
- Lemon squeeze
- Add ingredients to coffee mug and top with 6 ounces of hot water.
Pear Chamomile Brandy
- 1 packet (about 15 grams) Teakoe Pear Chamomile Tea (or any pear tea you have available)
- 1 750-milliliter bottle Laird’s Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy
- Combine ingredients and let steep for 4 hours.
Peasant Wine Bar’s Hot Buttered Amaro Caldo
Marc Forgione’s new Peasant Wine Bar, located in NYC’s NoLita neighborhood, boasts an exhaustive wine list, but its cocktails shouldn’t be overlooked. The restaurant’s Hot Buttered Amaro Caldo — a combination of the classic Hot Buttered Rum and Amaro Caldo — is made with amaro, spices, and plenty of butter. The result is a decadent, drinkable dessert sure to satisfy any end-of-night craving.
- 1 ounce vanilla caramel mixture (see recipe below)
- 1 ½ ounces Amaro CioCiaro
- 2 ½ ounces hot water
- Garnish: ground nutmeg
- Combine vanilla caramel mixture, amaro, and hot water. If you can steam or froth in a steam pitcher, it creates a better texture.
- Pour into a tempered glass (or coffee cup) and garnish with nutmeg
Vanilla Caramel Mixture
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cloves
- 1 ¼ cups light cream or half-and-half
- ¼ cup white sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Cook the butter and brown sugar over low heat until fully melted and mixed.
- Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, cream, white sugar, and a pinch of salt.
- Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
- Strain out cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Don Angie’s Aperitivo Toddy
NYC’s iconic West Village Italian spot serves up more than Instagrammable lasagna and chicken scarpariello. The bar menu boasts an exhaustive amaro lineup, wines from Italy and beyond, and creative cocktails like its Italian-style Toddy, made with two types of aperitivos, blood orange and lemon juices, and Angostura bitters.
- 1 ounce Contratto Aperitif
- ¾ ounce Cappelletti Aperitivo
- ½ ounce blood orange juice
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 4 ounces boiling water
- Garnish: cinnamon stick and blood orange slice
- Combine and stir all ingredients.
- Serve in a mug with a cinnamon stick and blood orange garnish.
R&D’s Hot Oaxacan Penicillin
Beloved Philadelphia cocktail bar R&D features over 20 specialty cocktails, including this take on the classic Hot Toddy and Penicillin. Taking the ginger, honey, and lemon elements of the latter, the Hot Oaxacan Penicillin adds in hot water and both tequila and mezcal to give the cocktail a tropical feel while remaining true to the Toddy’s wintry appeal.
- 1 ½ ounces Teremana Reposado Tequila
- ½ ounce mezcal
- ½ ounce ginger syrup (2 parts white sugar to 1 part ginger juice)
- ¼ ounce honey syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part water)
- Garnish: lemon wheel
- Assemble ingredients in a tempered glass mug.
- Top with hot water (about 4 ounces)
- Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Marta’s Burro Caldo
Union Square Hospitality Group’s popular pizza joint Marta serves up a warming Burro Caldo that combines rum, Nocino liqueur, butter, orange, and baking spices. It’s topped with a dollop of vanilla-infused whipped cream and a cinnamon stick for a drink that’s as tasty as it is visually appealing.
- 3 ounces Rum-Nocino Mixture (recipe follows)
- 3 ounces boiling water
- 1 bar spoon unsalted cows milk butter
- Garnish: vanilla-infused whipped cream and a cinnamon stick
- 750 milliliters Cruzan Black Strap Rum
- 375 milliliters Don Ciccio Nocino
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 15-20 cloves
- Peel of one whole orange
- Make Rum-Nocino Mixture: Combine all ingredients and simmer covered over medium-low heat for 60 minutes
- Remove from heat and, when ready to serve, combine 3 ounces Rum-Nocino mixture with 3 ounces boiling water in a glass mug.
- Stir in butter and top with vanilla-infused whipped cream and a cinnamon stick.
Urban Cowboy Lodge’s Montenegro Hot Toddy
From the Catskills’ Urban Cowboy Lodge, the Montenegro Hot Toddy combines the nutty notes of bourbon and cinnamon syrup with Solera cream sherry, herbaceous and citrusy Amaro Montenegro, and apple brandy. Ideal for thirsty mountaineers, this cocktail is complex and warming.
- 1 ounce Amaro Montenegro
- 1 ounce Old Forester Bourbon
- ¼ ounce Laird’s Apple Brandy
- ½ ounce Lustau East India Solera Sherry
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 2 ounces water
- ¼ ounce cinnamon syrup
- ¼ ounce lemon juice
- Garnish: whipped cream, orange star, fresh nutmeg
- In a saucepan, combine all ingredients excluding cinnamon syrup and lemon juice, and heat to near boiling.
- In a mug, add the cinnamon syrup and lemon juice, then pour heated mixture into the mug.
- Top with a tiny dollop of whipped cream, an orange star, and shave fresh nutmeg over top.
Aka Ranger from “The Japanese Art of the Cocktail”
From “The Japanese Art of the Cocktail,” by esteemed bartender Masahiro Urushido and writer Michael Anstendig, the Aka Ranger celebrates shochu, Japan’s national spirit. It’s inspired by the Hot Toddy and incorporates jasmine mulled wine into the mixture for a subtly floral flavor. “Aka means ‘red’ in Japanese and reminds me of the autumn leaves in my hometown,” says Urushido. “By watching the Japanese animated ‘Five Rangers’ TV series that we all enjoyed growing up, the drink brings back a lot of countryside memories.”
- 1 ounce Yamasemi Rice Shochu
- ¼ ounce crème de cassis liqueur
- ¼ ounce rich honey syrup (recipe follows)
- Hot jasmine mulled wine (recipe follows)
- 1 dash Sangostura Bitters (recipe follows)
- Garnish: 1 star anise pod (optional)
- In a Japanese teacup, add shochu, crème de cassis liqueur, honey syrup, and bitters.
- Top with hot jasmine mulled wine.
- Garnish with a star anise pod.
Hot Jasmine Mulled Wine
- 1 750-milliliter bottle semi-dry Riesling wine
- 3 fresh Bosc pears, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup white port wine
- 1 tablespoon jasmine pearl tea leaves
- Zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips with a peeler or paring knife
- In a saucepan, bring all ingredients, except the white port and jasmine tea, to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then allow to cool.
- Strain through cheesecloth and add white port and jasmine tea leaves.
- Allow to steep for 3 minutes then strain into an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-quart container and store refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Rich Honey Syrup
- ⅔ cup honey
- ⅓ cup water
- Add honey and water to a pot over medium-low heat, stirring until the honey is fully dissolved. Allow to cool, pour into an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-cup container and store refrigerated for up to 2 months.
- ¼ cup sansho peppercorns
- 1 16-ounce bottle Angostura Bitters
- Combine peppercorns and bitters in an airtight, non-reactive glass 1-pint container and allow to steep for 48 hours.
- Strain into the original bottle, and store in the pantry for up to 6 months.
Bar Blondeau’s Wish Fulfillment
From Bar Blondeau, located on the rooftop of Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel, comes the Wish Fulfillment, an autumnal cocktail complete with apple gin, pear brandy (also known as poire eau de vie), lemon oil, and sherry.
- ¼ teaspoon Bitter Truth Allspice Dram
- ¼ teaspoon oloroso or fino sherry
- ¼ ounce Demerara syrup
- ¼ ounce poire eau de vie
- 1 ½ ounces Neversink Gin
- Hot water as needed
- Garnish: Lemon peel, expressed and discarded
- Build, combining all ingredients in a coffee cup.
- Top with hot water and expressed lemon.
Dante’s Hot Buttered Rum
From NYC’s esteemed Greenwich Village hotspot Dante, this take on the classic Hot Buttered Rum adds the fruity notes of rooibos tea and raspberry syrup to the cozy, decadent recipe. With a bit of baking spices and a hint of welcome sweetness, this is a balanced, warming cocktail ideal for the depths of winter.
- 1 ounce spiced buttered Santa Teresa Rum
- ½ ounce allspice dram
- ½ ounce amontillado sherry
- ½ ounce raspberry syrup
- 1 ounce rooibos tea
- Garnish: cinnamon stick
- Fill a brulot mug with boiling water to warm it.
- Warm buttered rum on the stove, stirring occasionally, until simmering.
- Pour out water, then combine all ingredients into a brulot mug.
- Garnish with cinnamon stick.