8 Hot Winter Cocktails That Go Beyond the Toddy

Mulled wine in a mug
Jerry Slater's single-serving take on wassail includes Madeira, St. George's Spiced Pear Liqueur, allspice dram and Chardonnay. (Photo: Mme Emil via iStock)

Over the years, the term “hot toddy” has evolved from a very specific (and, to be honest, quite boring) recipe to a broadly bandied-about term that seems to encompass any beverage served above room-temperature. It might involve whiskey. It might involve lemon. It may or may not require a small arsenal of baking spices. In any case, there’s one thing we can probably all agree on: few things hit the spot on a cold winter’s night quite like a piping-hot mug of warm booze. And these cocktails, created by bartenders around the country, do exactly that. From a bright, warm pomegranate sipper to a rich hot coffee spiked with rum and citrus-vanilla liqueur, here’s our contingency plan for staying warm from the inside out through the coming winter.

1. The Glass Sipper

A cocktail garnished with orange and rosemary next to a bottle of Grey Goose. Shake off winter's chill with this warm cocktail, rife with seasonal fruits, spices and herbs. (Photo: Sharon Pye)

This stunning serve from Brooke Flaherty of Erin Rose and Ashley Carswell of Cosimo’s Bar took home the People’s Choice award at this year’s Tales of the Toddy. Make it for yourself, and you’ll see why: a warm apple-pomegranate juice combination is simmered with herbs and spices like cardamom, cloves, rosemary and cinnamon to form the base of a pleasantly tart, subtly spiced Grey Goose vodka drink. Get the recipe.

2. Cuyamel Cartel

A cocktail next to a bottle of pralines and cream liqueur Dreaming of holidays spent by the seaside? The Cuyamel Cartel satisfies. Decadent Bacardi Ocho, banana butter and Evangeline's Pralines and Cream Liqueur come together for a boozy islander treat. (Photo: Sharon Pye)

There are cocktails that literally warm you up by nature of their temperature, and cocktails that use flavor to transport you to a warmer place — like, say, a tropical beach somewhere in the Caribbean. This drink, created by Eric Chanthasalo of Fulton Alley and Chris Clinkenbeard of Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar, manages to do both. The foundation of the drink is the boozy, sweet “banana butter” — a pureed and cooked combination of bananas, vanilla, sugar, Bacardi Ocho and just a touch of cayenne pepper. Just add hot water, more rum and Pralines and Cream Liqueur for a smooth, sweet and warm tropical sipper. Get the recipe.

3. Hippocras Punch

Hot tea cocktail in a copper mug Tea and biscuits get an upgrade courtesy of Sebastien Derbomez, U.S. East Coast ambassador of Hendrick’s Gin.

Did you know that hot gin punch is not only delicious, it was also the holiday drink of choice for the Cratchit family in the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”? Dickens describes it as “some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons,” but we much prefer the version cooked up here by Hendrick’s Gin East Coast ambassador Sebastien Derbomez, who adds white wine, chamomile tea, pineapple and baking spices to the equation. Get the recipe.

4. Chit-Cha Toddy

Tea cocktail in glass mug Spice up your teatime with this warm, boozy tea cocktail featuring rye whiskey and ginger liqueur.

Perhaps the closest thing on this list to a traditional toddy, this piping-hot drink from RedFarm’s Shawn Chen riffs on the traditional whiskey and lemon equation by adding oolong tea, ginger liqueur and honey. Seems like the kind of toddy that could pull double-duty as seasonal sipper and highly enjoyable cold remedy. Get the recipe.

5. East of West

A glass toddy mug surrounded by a candle, a vodka bottle, and colorful papers The East of West hot toddy.

Another take on the hot gin punch, this recipe (created by Purloo's Carmine Potenza and Diana Hebert for last year’s Tales of the Toddy) packs another kind of heat with the addition of Cocktail & Sons Honeysuckle Peppercorn Syrup. Get the recipe.

6. Stay Awake Lover

Hot cocktail served in a mug, topped with whipped cream, surrounded by candles This coffee-based cocktail is topped with a dollop of strawberry Chantilly cream.

This rich, creamy coffee cocktail from Nathan Dalton and Derek Brumfield took home the People’s Choice award at Tales of the Toddy 2015. The duo took the idea of spiked coffee much further than simply adding a half-ounce of rum into the equation: the drink is enriched with butter, while Licor 43 adds a hint of vanilla and citrus sweetness. A dollop of homemade strawberry Chantilly cream on top makes for a thoughtful finishing touch. Get the recipe.

7. Wassail for One

Mulled wine in a mug Jerry Slater's single-serving take on wassail includes Madeira, St. George's Spiced Pear Liqueur, allspice dram and Chardonnay. (Photo: Mme Emil via iStock)

Atlanta barman Jerry Slater, who built the original cocktail program at beloved airport bar One Flew South and most recently helped assemble the bar for Ludacris’s Chicken and Beer, created this wintry mulled wine as a single-serving version of the beloved wassail punch. Rather than dumping some red wine and baking spices in a pot and simmering, Slater’s “Wassail for One” adds unexpected depth with Madeira, St. George Pear Liqueur, allspice dram and Chardonnay. Get the recipe.

8. Hot Pom Toddy

A cocktail filled with pomegranate seeds. The Hot Pom Toddy is rife with Vitamin C, which everyone could use a dose of this time of year. (Photo: Gyorgy Papp)

Drink to your health? Jules Aron, author of "Zen and Tonic," has made it her mission. The bartender, blogger and author created this recipe as a lighter alternative to the heavy, sugar-laden drinks typically associated with the season. Instead, this one slips in a nice dose of antioxidants via pomegranate and goji berries, and even promises a bit of an immunity boost with Vitamin C. If all that health-speak has you feeling hesitant, don't worry: she didn't skip the whiskey. Get the recipe.

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