Many alcoholic beverages can cool you down when the weather is hot. There are also many options for cold-weather drinks that can warm you up from the inside out when the weather is cold and blustery.
Read on for my pick of the 12 best alcoholic drinks for cold weather. While many of these drinks should be served hot, a few are tasty at room temperature. We’ll also add some suggested variations to tailor these drinks to your taste.
1. Cranberry Martini
Okay, I agree. A cranberry martini is nothing more than a Cosmopolitan all dressed up for the holidays. But, with a few additions, it can be a crowd-pleaser for that holiday party.
While the Cosmopolitan is a well-known drink made from cranberry juice, gin or vodka, and vermouth, the cranberry martini has the same ingredients to which you add a small amount of orange liqueur to create a festive touch.
This holiday drink is shaken over ice, then strained into martini glasses, and decorated for the holidays. Here are some options for garnishments that will impress your guests:
- Garnish with a few fresh cranberries and a sprig of fresh mint.
- Dress up your martini glasses by dipping the rims in lemon juice and then into red-dyed sugar.
- Top your glasses with fresh lemon or lime wedges.
- Add a few sugared or candied cranberries.
Eggnog is the most widely known winter holiday drink. It is an excellent example of a winter drink that can be served to the entire family by simply leaving out the alcohol.
The basic eggnog recipe consists of milk, cream, sugar, and eggs but has historically been referred to as “milk punch” when made with alcohol. The alcohol traditionally used when making eggnog is brandy, but you can make it with a combination of rum and Cognac or Bourbon. But, to maintain the original flavor profile, it is best to stick with brandy.
The spices used determine the flavor of eggnog. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise are most commonly used, with nutmeg being the most prominent.
The texture of eggnog is thicker than milk due to the number of eggs used in making the concoction. It is often described as most closely resembling melted vanilla ice cream.
While drinking the traditional brandy-laced eggnog is a delight to many adults, the equally delicious “virgin” version can be made without alcohol so that the entire family can enjoy it.
3. Holiday Margarita
The margarita is a favorite drink for many people. It is simple to make but so festive. The salty rim is eye-catching and adds a delicious touch to the drink. But the perfect way to dress up a margarita for that Christmas party you are hosting is to add 3 ounces of cranberry juice and 1 ounce of pomegranate juice to 2 ounces of Tequila, along with ½ ounce each of lime juice and triple sec, to kick the holiday menu up a notch and have all your friends raving over your party preparations.
This Holiday Margarita, like the margarita, should be shaken over ice, then strained into a margarita glass. But, the Holiday Margarita creates a different spin on the traditional margarita by being served in a glass rimmed with lemon or lime juice and dipped in sugar rather than salt.
4. Hot Spiked Apple Cider
Nothing feels more like fall than having a nice mug of spiked apple cider. Mixing it with alcohol can give it the boost you need to warm yourself up after raking leaves or other outdoor exercises. Apple cider pairs well with dark spirits like rum, whiskey, brandy, and bourbon. But, if you already have vodka, mezcal, or tequila, you can add it to your apple cider with only a slight change in taste.
A familiar combination preferred by many is apple cider and spiced rum. It reminds us of fall and the holidays, and it tastes fantastic.
5. Hot Buttered Rum
If rum is your drink of choice, a hot buttered rum conjures up fantasies of sitting before a roaring fire with family and friends, celebrating the holiday season.
The original hot buttered rum was a mixture of brown sugar, butter, salt, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice) with boiling water and a shot (1.5 oz.) of rum. But now, many recipes for this delicious and warming drink allow you to personalize by choosing from different types of sugar and spices.
You can also make this drink by substituting apple cider for water. By making it alcohol-free, the entire family can enjoy it.
6. Mulled Apple Cider
Here is my new favorite mulled apple cider recipe from The Pioneer Woman:
- 4 whole Cinnamon Sticks
- ⅛ teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 8 whole Allspice Berries
- Peel from 1 Orange
- Peel from 1 Lemon
- ½ cup Maple Syrup
- 6 cups freshly squeezed or unfiltered Apple Juice
- Apple Slices & Orange Twists for garnish
- ½ cup Dark Rum
- Combine spices, maple syrup, and apple juice in a saucepan and bring almost to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Pour into mugs and garnish with apple slices and orange twists.
- For adults, add a splash of rum.
Mulled apple cider is one great seasonal cocktail you can enjoy like a hot toddy. Citrus, clove, and cinnamon sticks provide just the right balance between the cider and the rum. Pair it with a fun fall celebration, and you have a festive fall date.
For those unfamiliar with the term “mulled,” in cooking refers to the process by which a beverage such as wine or cider is “heated, sweetened, and flavored with spices.”
7. Hot Mulled Wine
Hot mulled wine is another traditional Christmas drink that has provided a soothing warmth to many over the years. The Ancient Romans drank hot wine heated with spices to keep warm.
This drink is simple to make and combines a dry red wine like a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon with various spices, including cinnamon and cloves, and sweetened with either honey, granulated or brown sugar, or sweetener of your choice, and simmered until the spices release their flavor.
When hot and steaming, this concoction is served in a mug around a fire on a cold winter night but makes an excellent holiday party drink to enjoy with your guests.
8. Spiked Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate, also known as hot cocoa, is a fantastic drink that creates a warm and cozy feeling on a cold night and is a favorite cold-weather drink of many families around the world.
Hot chocolate and hot cocoa are two different drinks. Hot chocolate is made by melting solid chocolate, whether in bars or chips, with hot milk to create a warming drink. You can also make it by adding unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar to hot milk. Here is the recipe my mother used and that I have been using to make hot cocoa for many years.
- 1 teaspoon Hershey’s Cocoa
- 3 teaspoons Sugar
- 8 ounces Whole Milk
- Heat milk in a medium saucepan.
- Mix cocoa powder and sugar with enough hot milk to make a smooth paste.
- Add the cocoa paste to the rest of the hot milk and stir until combined. Enjoy!
But, to kick this drink up a notch and create an adult version of this holiday favorite, try adding your favorite alcohol and a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and you have yourself a winner. Here are two suggestions for spiked hot chocolate drinks:
- 2 oz. your favorite solid chocolate
- 8 oz. your favorite milk
- 1 shot Mezcal
- Melt the chocolate in the milk over low to medium heat. Be sure the milk doesn’t come to a boil, and the chocolate completely melts before adding alcohol.
- Add to Mezcal and stir until ingredients are combined, and serve immediately.
Naughty Hot Chocolate (My version)
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 package hot cocoa mix
- 2 marshmallows
- 3 ounces Vodka
- 2 ounces Godiva liqueur
- Combine milk and hot cocoa mix in a small saucepan and heat over low to medium heat until hot.
- Add Vodka and Godiva liqueur and stir until well combined and hot.
- Pour into a mug, top with marshmallows, and serve.
9. Spiked Hot Coffee
I think we can all agree that there are a lot of spiked hot coffee drink recipes out there, but none that can beat good old Bailey’s Irish Cream Coffee when it comes to a special hot winter drink that can quickly warm you up from that cold winter chill.
Here is the well-known Bailey’s Original Irish Cream Coffee Recipe:
- 2 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream
- 6 ounces Coffee
- 1 ounce Irish Whiskey
- 1 dollop fresh Whipped Cream
- Combine Baileys, coffee, and whiskey in an “Irish coffee” glass.
- Top with whipped cream, and enjoy.
10. Spiked Hot Tea
For those hot tea lovers, spiked hot tea is one of the best drinks to warm you up on a cold day. Just as a tall glass of iced tea is perfect on a hot day, a steaming cup of hot tea is the ideal cold-weather drink. And there is nothing better to enhance the flavor of that cup of tea than your favorite alcohol.
Combining alcohol and hot tea is nothing new. Combining the two goes back hundreds of years. The question is, what is the best combination? Which alcohol goes with which tea? Well, if you have a favorite alcohol and a favorite type of hot tea, try experimenting to see how they taste together.
But if you don’t know where to start, here are some popular combinations that can steer you in the right direction:
- Black tea and spiced rum.
- Green tea and whiskey.
- Mint tea and bourbon.
- Chamomile and gin.
- Chai tea and rye whiskey.
- Earl Grey and Bourbon.
11. Hot Toddy
A hot toddy is another traditional drink made to warm you up on a cold winter day and to cure the symptoms of various ailments. It was traditionally made with whiskey and water mixed with honey, lemon juice, herbs, and spices.
It is typically consumed as a drink before bedtime, on cold and wet days, and as a “medicinal” drink to help relieve cold and flu symptoms. My mother made a version of the hot toddy drink for me occasionally when I had a flare-up of tonsillitis or stomach cramps. And I have to admit that it always made me feel better, and I tend to regard it more like a home remedy than a hot alcoholic beverage.
12. Winter Gin Fizz
A Winter Gin Fizz is my personal favorite, even though this drink is not served hot. As far back as I can remember, a sloe gin fizz is the only alcoholic beverage, except for a small glass of sweet red wine, that I enjoy. On those rare occasions when an alcoholic beverage seems appropriate, this is my drink of choice.
While you make a sloe gin fizz from sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda, a winter gin fizz contains gin, orange juice, cranberry juice, simple syrup, and ginger ale. Here is the recipe:
- 1 shot Gin
- 1 shot Orange Juice
- 1 shot Cranberry Juice
- 1 shot Simple Syrup
- Ginger Ale
- Simply combine the gin, juices, and simple syrup in a shaker with or without ice.
- Give it a good shake and pour it into a beverage glass.
- Fill the glass with ginger ale.
- Top it off with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry, and you are all set.
This one is easy as can be.
If you are not a fan of sweet drinks, this is not your drink. But, if you like sweet beverages and, like me, prefer a more gentle drink going down, give this one a try.
For more, check out 15 Best Alcoholic Drinks for Beginners or Lightweights.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.