Whiskey, Brandy (And Rum) Are Winter Cocktail Must Haves


Whiskey and brandy seem to win hands-down when it comes to topping the must-have list throughout the cold winter months (though rum comes in at a close third).

Both brown spirits find themselves an essential component in nearly all of the best-known, time-tested drinks of the season, in addition to myriad classic cocktails.

A quick snort of either — no matter the time of year — is sure to warm the body.

A review of cocktail menus and online spirit blogs found that these two spirits remain cold-weather favorites well after the final strains of “Auld Lang Syne” are sung in the wee hours of New Year’s Day.

In the case of “Mr. Boston: Official Bartender’s Guide” at www.MrBostonDrinks.com, even some of the holiday cocktails and punches make the guide’s list of top cocktails for the entirety of the season.

Why not? If it’s tasty at Christmas, it’s likely to be just as good on a frigid night in early February.

Mr. Boston’s top winter cocktails include:

• Tom and Jerry, which may appear similar to the average eggnog (think rum), yet is actually quite the opposite. The brandy-dominated cocktail is known for warming up the coldest of winter’s night.

“With plenty of sugar and spice and everything nice inside this glass, it can turn any day into a winter holiday,” the blog noted. “What’s even better is this recipe is large enough to share with everyone at your cocktail party this winter.”

• Irish Coffee. Pep up an otherwise average cup of joe with Irish whiskey, sugar cubes and light whipped cream to create what the popular drinks guide calls a sweet treat.

“This cocktail is the perfect drink after a long day on the mountain skiing with family or friends, or to sip in front of a warm fire,” the blog detailed.

• Whiskey Milk Punch, the whiskey cousin to the classic White Russian. The cocktail is recognized as a delicious mixture of smooth, blended Canadian whisky and milk, sprinkled with nutmeg — an alternative for dessert after a hearty meal.

• Brandy Alexander No. 2, another classic dessert drink.

“The Brandy Alexander No. 2 is a creamy frothy wonder that is the perfect nightcap during the winter months,” MrBostonDrinks.com noted. “Brandy, white crème de cacao, and half-and-half topped off with some freshly grated nutmeg creates a cocktail that is as close as you can get to a classic milkshake. If you want a sweet treat to serve this winter, the Brandy Alexander No. 2 is sure to please.”

Columbus-based Watershed Distillery offers fans of its locally sourced spirits a spin on cozy cocktails that are bound to warm the imbiber.

“Hot drinks are often looked over because they fall into the rut of basic spiked cider, or mulled wine,” a blog entry noted on the distiller’s website, www.watersheddistillery.com. “Bourbon is a tried-and-true favorite when it comes to fall and winter recipes, and is even more exciting when it is matched with apple brandy made from all Ohio apples, or the lovely vanilla and chocolate notes you’ll get with Nocino, a black walnut liquor made from Ohio walnuts.”

Watershed’s seasonal offerings include a hot toddy, a coffee drink and a new take on an Old Fashioned.

The hot toddy recipe calls for apple brandy, lemon juice, clove-honey syrup, bitters and green tea. The distiller suggests trying different tea variations for subtle flavor differences.

Watershed’s warm coffee drink calls for bourbon, walnut liqueur, a lavender simple syrup and heavy whipping cream.

“If you are looking for a fun way to enjoy an after dinner coffee without reaching for the Irish cream then look no further,” the website boasted.

Watershed’s take on the Old Fashioned is a split-based cocktail with equal parts bourbon and apple brandy. It adds to the recipe a chai tea simple syrup and three dashes each of Angostura bitters and orange bitters. In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients and stir until well chilled. Pour over a large ice cube and garnish with an orange peel.

— KEITH ARNOLD, Ohio Tavern News