A University of Pittsburgh study just recently confirmed something we all could probably intuit—people in cold places drink more alcohol. With winter coming right around the corner in the northern hemisphere, we here at MUNCHIES are preparing ourselves for the slushy, gray, bitterly cold winter by making sure our bars are well-stocked with the means to drink ourselves a sweater on the worst nights. (We know, New York City is nothing compared to Buffalo or Chicago, but if there’s one thing that unites New Yorkers across the five boroughs, it’s our love of bitching about the weather, even if it’s not that bad.) Plus, we have more major holidays yet to come before the end of the year, and we’ve got to be prepared to keep our friends and families pleasantly buzzed and warm from the inside out. Here’s our favorite winter cocktails and punches for your next snowy-weather gathering, or family-filled holiday. Or, hell, just a Thursday night.
Is burning rosemary like smudging with sage? If so, maybe this cocktail will help rid you of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Smoky, peaty scotch is already thematically on point for a warming winter cocktail, but combine that with cider, cinnamon, and maple syrup, and you’ve checked all the winter-flavor boxes.Adding booze to coffee or tea is a recipe for myriad wintery drinks, but they usually also include gratuitous amounts of orange slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Keep it simple with cold brew, Bailey’s and brandy. The millennial’s Irish coffee.Some people just can’t be convinced to stray too far from their go-to drink orders, no matter the season. That’s cool. This is essentially a vodka gimlet, except the substitution of rosemary syrup adds a piney note that feels all too fitting for cold weather.Samhain is the Gaelic festival that marks the beginning of the winter season in the Celtic calendar. This cocktail is an ode to that holiday, with a spice-laden pumpkin syrup and plenty of apple brandy and cognac to keep you warm until Beltane.We're coming up on peak citrus and pomegranate season, and they make the perfect garnishes for this large-batch cocktail. Tarragon’s licorice-y flavor pairs perfectly with sweet brandy and Jamaican spiced rum, too.A Tom and Jerry cocktail is the hot (temperature) cousin to chilled eggnog, and is about as festive and wintery as a beverage can get.
The best part about this cocktail is that you can serve it hot or cold, but either way, it’s like Christmas in your mouth. Ancho Reyes chili liqueur gives your average mulled cider new life, and a few of these will definitely get you festively sloshed.Pro bartender Aaron Polsky helped us create this riff on the classic Manhattan with high proof bourbon and cognac to help you celebrate the Festival of Lights. He strongly advises you not to set it on fire, though. Sorry, we set bad examples sometimes.Also from our Hanukkah Spectacular, this second Aaron Polsky tiki-style creation also makes use of high-proof spirits and some hard-to-find components, but he offers some more accessible substitutes that still produce a killer cocktail.Like a lot of winter beverages, this simple cocktail makes use of cider, but the alcoholic kind. With only two ingredients, remember to get the best stuff you can find. It’ll make a difference.This big-batch drink couldn’t be easier to throw together, and as you’ll see, we’ve instructed you to buy the cheap stuff. No need to fuss this one up.Mezcal lends a pleasant smokiness to this cocktail, which always feels appropriate when attempting to drink yourself a sweater.This short-cut hard cider is no joke, with 190 proof Everclear. Pace yourself or get knocked on your ass.Fennel is another peak winter flavor, with its warm, anise-y notes. It makes for a versatile syrup, and it’s a subtle enhancement to good-quality Japanese whiskey in this simple cocktail.
Maple syrup, black currants and brandy scream winter in New England. But this creation, from Leyenda bartender Ivy Mix, leans on Mix’s expertise with Latin flavors with a brandy brewed in the Andes Mountains, and Ancho Reyes, a spicy-sweet ancho chili liqueur from Puebla, Mexico.
With a cinnamon-vanilla syrup for a little sweetness and a toasted cinnamon stick garnish, this beer cocktail is a good low-ABV option for sipping this holiday season.
The good folks at Kachka in Portland know a thing or two about cold weather drinking, seeing as chef Bonnie Frumkin-Morales' family hails from Russia. Her grandmother alleges that if you serve it with a spoonful of raspberry preserves, it can heal a cold.
This cocktail is named for Nick Cave’s dark, moody “Stagger Lee,” and with the molasses-y sweet notes from inky black treacle rum and a touch of anise-y absinthe, it certainly lives up to its namesake.Rum punch is almost a misnomer here, since this big-batch cocktail also has a bottle each of cognac, sherry, and wine. More than enough alcohol to make you warm and toasty.Put a little more effort into your Irish coffee than just sloshing some Jameson’s into it. The geniuses behind the bar at New York’s Dead Rabbit will show you the way.