Our Best Boozy Cocktails for the Dark Days of Winter

We’re sippin’ on the stiff stuff until spring.


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on January 12, 2024

These are dark times, friends. Winter's shorter days—along with the depressing state of the world—call for something a little stronger. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with sipping martinis all year long, but the cold weather is especially perfect for libations stirred with belly-warming ryes, bourbons, and scotches. From a textbook-perfect sidecar to nutmeg-laced milk punch for a crowd, here are 15 winter sips to get you through the doldrums.

Matt Taylor-Gross; Food Styling by Jessie YuChen

Along with the bloody mary, this boozy, nutmeg-scented punch is a New Orleans brunch mainstay (and one of our favorite cold-weather tipples). This version features an aromatic aged brandy named after Napoleon Bonaparte, but any good-quality brandy or cognac will do. Get the recipe >

Matt Taylor-Gross

Aymeric Tortereau, of Café Juliette in Lyon, created this cocktail at a bartenders' workshop to feature Bigallet's bitter liqueur China-China amer. Similar to a Manhattan but with Cognac and amer providing the powerful base, his concoction gets a refreshing splash of elderflower liqueur. Get the recipe >

Andy Sewell

The French word Boulevardier translates roughly to “man about town,” an apt name for a chic cocktail that sprang up in Paris in the 1920s. It was invented at Harry’s New York Bar by a group of cocktail aficionados known as the International Bar Flies, whose bitter and sweet drink has remained popular for almost a century. Get the recipe >

Murray Hall; Food Styling by Jessie YuChen

As far as quintessential whiskey cocktails go, it doesn’t get much easier than this no-shaker-required New Orleans standby. This classic recipe comes from Hotel Monteleone’s rotating Carousel Bar in New Orleans, where the drink was created. The cocktail’s name, which means “old square” in French, is a nod to the French Quarter. Get the recipe >

Murray Hall; Food Styling by Jessie YuChen

Making Louisiana’s official state cocktail like a seasoned New Orleans bartender is easier than you think. This recipe from Commander’s Palace calls for absinthe, but if you can't find it, substitute another anisette such as Herbsaint or pastis. Get the recipe >

Linda Xiao; Food Styling by Jessie YuChen

Vodka makes a clean, crisp base in this tart and refreshing apple number that gets a je-ne-sais-quoi savory note from a dash of celery bitters. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio; Food Styling By Jessie YuChen; Prop Styling By Kim Gray

This vintage cocktail is a cream-based variation on the vodka-and-coffee Black Russian. Some credit the drink's resurgence to the 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” in which the lead character, “The Dude,” consumes little else. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio

This coffee old fashioned laced with cinnamon, clove, and allspice is coziness in a cup—and a cinch to prepare. It calls for pimento liqueur (aka allspice dram), which was a popular ingredient in 18th-century punches. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio

Have a countertop espresso machine (or trusty café) nearby? A shot of freshly pulled espresso is the key to this iconic—and increasingly trendy—cocktail. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio

Popular in Spain and Latin America, this hot cocktail was born of the people—not a mixologist. The timeless formula is equal parts coffee or espresso and a spirit or liqueur (be it rum, brandy, or an herbal liqueur such as Licor 43). Get the recipe >

Maura McEvoy

Rich with half-and-half and fragrant with nutmeg, this slushy delight doubles as an adults-only dessert in a glass. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio

Calvados, fresh fruit, and spice sparkle in this all-grown-up take on the old-school appletini. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio; Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero; Prop Styling by Paige Hicks

Homemade chamomile syrup and Dalwhinnie 15 Year combine in this delicate yet intoxicatingly smoky cocktail that’s garnished with edible flowers. Get the recipe >

Linda Xiao; Food Styling by Christine Albano; Prop Styling by Dayna Seman

Based on the Blood and Sand, created in honor of actor Rudolph Valentino’s famous 1922 bullfighter film, this Irish version from Dublin’s Sidecar Bar substitutes fruit-forward spirits for the original vermouth and blood orange juice. Amarena cherries give it a sweet finish. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio; Food Styling by Kat Craddock

Cognac is for so much more than cigars and snifters—as this bright and citrusy classic handily proves. Get the recipe >

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