Our Best Boozy Cocktails for the Dark Days of Winter

We’re sippin’ on the stiff stuff until spring

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on February 23, 2017

These are dark times, friends. Winter's shorter days—along with the depressing state of current affairs—call for something a little stronger, perhaps with whiskey. Sure, it's more than acceptable (encouraged, even, in our book) to sip martinis all year long, but the cold weather is especially perfect for libations stirred with belly-warming ryes, bourbons, and Scotches. Naturally, Manhattan and Old-Fashioned recipes are a great base to work with, but you can also warm up with a seasonal punch and or a nice hot cocktail. From a homemade crab apple liqueur to an oleo saccharum old-fashioned, here are the winter sips to get you through the season's darkest days.

Oleo Saccharum Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned (in its classic form, a stirred whiskey cocktail with sugar, bitters, and a twist) is a drink whose garnish is critical, relying on the subtle lift of orange oils to balance the strong spirit. But what if you want to up the orange? A proper Old Fashioned would become diluted and unappealing with juice, or with muddled fruit (if you see a bartender muddling up an orange slice and maraschino cherry for your drink, you have our permission to walk away). But using an oleo saccharum as the sweetener brings in even more of those orange oils, for a drink where the citrus flavors are bright and powerful, without any juice to compromise the drink's strength and clarity. Get the recipe for Extra Orange Old Fashioned »

Cocktails Rosewood

This seasonal variation on the old fashioned brightens up bourbon with Pamplemousse Rosé, giving the cocktail a floral twist. It's a great cocktail to scale up for parties: Stir together a big batch in a pitcher without ice, chill, and have your guests serve themselves. Get the recipe for Rosewood Cocktail »

China Fight Cocktail

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 for China Fight Cocktail »

Tiny Negroni

A snack-sized negroni with a savory agave twist from bartender Tristan Willey of Long Island Bar. Get the recipe for Tinegroni »

Cachaca Violent Fairy Tales Cocktail
Violent Fairytales

Cachaca Violent Fairy Tales Cocktail

A dash of sparkling wine gives this cocktail a bright finish. Get the recipe for Violent Fairytales

Cachaca Rio Julep Cocktail

In this wintery cocktail from Spencer Shelton of Dallas' Bolsa, aged cachaça is tempered with herbal–bitter Cynar and sprightly grapefruit bitters. Get the recipe for Cachaca Rio Julep Cocktail »

Crab apple liqueur with cinnamon

Goldschläger's far subtler (but still gold-flecked) relative, this after-dinner sipper has sweetness, a cinnamon aroma, and an apple finish. Crab apples, which can be dropped in whole to steep, are ideal due to their low water content. Get the recipe for Crab Apple Liqueur with Cinnamon »

Black coffee spike

This is a darker, richer, cream-optional variation of homemade Bailey's—a popular below-the-kitchen-sink Midwestern recipe—which we use to spike hot coffees. With rosemary, juniper, and whiskey, it adds both woodsy flavor and punch. This recipe will keep for up to 1 month bottled in the refrigerator. Get the recipe for Black Coffee Spike »

Hot and Heavey Grog
Hot and Heavey Grog

Hot and Heavey Grog

Overproof rum, honey syrup, and lime come together to make a simple but powerful hot toddy. This recipes comes from Celeste in Chicago. Get the recipe for Hot and Heavey Grog »

Cinnamon and Honey Scotch Sour
Cinnamon and Honey Scotch Sour

Cinnamon and Honey Scotch Sour

Cinnamon and honey are always friends, and a cinnamon-honey syrup has endless uses—sweeten your tea with it, pour it over ice cream, or drizzle on your oatmeal. In a cocktail context? Try it in a Scotch sour, where smoky blended Scotch and lemon make for a refreshing drink with the warmth of cinnamon and slight floral note of honey coming through. Once you've made the cinnamon honey, it's just a three-ingredient drink, but tastes far more complex. Get the recipe for Cinnamon and Honey Scotch Sour »

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