Most ubiquitous of winter drinks is perhaps the hot toddy. There are many variations, but this is the best-known recipe and a foundation for ingredients and ratios. A thermos of hot toddies may be prepared before winter outings to spread the cheer among your party. No fire is necessary to prepare this drink!
HOT TODDY INGREDIENTS:
2 oz. whiskey (bourbon, rye) 1 tablespoon honey (sweetener) 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice ¼ cup hot water
Melt honey with hot water in a heatproof glass or mug. Add other ingredients. Garnish with lemon wedge. Variations: This drink provides a great foundation for experimentation. Google “hot toddy variation” and get more ideas than winter nights. Try a new small batch spirit from your area. Choose a sweetener: honey, or infused syrup. Add some citrus juice and voila. This drink can also be infused with dried herbs and peel by using a tea infuser. Let infuser steep in the hot liquid.
SAVORY COCKTAILS BRANDY OLD FASHIONED
While summer drinks are often sweet and light—think gin and tonics or mojitos—winter drinks tend towards the savory. Dark liquors, strong herbal notes and spices, and hints of maple or apple are typical. Old fashioneds made with bourbon or rye are a winter staple, but in the cold climes of Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, there’s a regional variation called the Brandy Old Fashioned. The origins of the drink are obscure, and it has little resemblance to the old fashioneds you are used to. Wisconsin Cheeseheads consider this the Badger State’s official drink. The basic recipe is to muddle a sugar cube with 1 each, orange slice and maraschino cherry, and a splash of 7-Up or Sprite in a rocks/dof glass. Fill the glass with ice, add 2 oz. brandy and top with 7-Up or Sprite. Garnish with an additional orange slice and maraschino cherry. If the muddled fruit and sweet soda is a turn-off but you’d like to try some variation of this upper Midwest classic, give this variation a try.
1 demerara sugar cube 5-6 dashed orange bitters 1 bar spoon Luxardo maraschino cherry syrup 1 ½ oz. bourbon, whiskey, or rye ½ to 1 oz. brandy Orange slice Luxardo maraschino cherry PREPARATION:
In a rocks/dof glass, muddle the sugar cube with bitters and syrup making a paste. Can add a splash of seltzer water to the paste if needed. Add a large ice cube and pour spirits over the ice. With a bar spoon, stir the liquid around the ice for 1520 seconds. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.
Our final winter drink is a new creation, developed by former restaurant owner Sylvia Fountaine and featured on her wonderful blog Feasting at Home (feastingathome.com). The Long Winter’s Nap features whiskey, maple syrup, and ginger. This cocktail is a new classic. It does require some preparation in advance, but once the syrup is made, the drink comes together in THE LONG WINTER’S a snap.
This tour of some of our favorite winter drinks is the barest introduction to a rich tradition of hot drinks, punches, and savory cocktails. Classic bartending books such as the first guide for bartenders, How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas (reprints easy to find) and the more recent, Death and Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by Kaplan, Fauchald, and Day have many recipes. Winter Cocktails by Maria Del Mar Sacasa is a wonderful volume with many more. Cheers to winter!
Renee Cebula is a cocktail historian. She is the owner and curator of Raising the Bar: Vintage & Badass Barware. FB: Raising the Bar Northwest, Insta/ Twitter: badassbarware, raisingthebarbarware.com. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
2 oz. Bourbon, whiskey, or rye 2 tablespoons *infused maple syrup (or plain maple syrup)
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice Star anise pod
For infused syrup, place maple syrup, water, ginger, and whole spices in a small pot. Heat over medium heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes on low heat. Let stand 10 minutes. The longer you infuse, the more intense the flavor. You could let this sit overnight, or strain it right away. Strain through cheesecloth and/or mesh sieve. In a cocktail shaker, pour the bourbon, infused maple, and lemon juice over ice. Shake and strain into a small lowball or coupe glass. Garnish with star anise pod and lemon slice (or zest).
* INFUSED MAPLE SYRUP ½ cup real maple syrup ½ cup water ¼ cup sliced ginger 3 star anise pods Optional additions: Douglas Fir, crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, whole clove, peppercorns
(From Sylvia Fountaine, 2016.)
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