There’s a chill in the air. The nights are getting longer. Ready or not, winter is here. But whether you’re eager to frolic in the snow or hunker down under blankets, hot cocktails are the perfect fortification for the season.
Never fear, with this list of at-home tools there’s no need to brave the outdoors every time you’re craving a steamy, boozy treat. If you’re making a Hot Toddy for yourself or busting out big batch hot cocktails for a party, we’ve got you covered.
Eight Home Bar Essentials for Winter Cocktails
1. Libbey Irish Coffee Mugs
Libbey has been making glassware perfect for showing off your hot cocktails since 1818. This particular model has thick glass, and the balanced handle placement is key to even weight distribution, a common complaint with many Irish coffee mugs.
Each mug in the four-piece set will hold over eight ounces of your favorite hot drink.
2. Michelangelo Saucepan
A nonstick saucepan that heats evenly is essential for the at-home bartender. This saucepan lets you roast up spices and then quickly yet evenly heat your concoction. There are also multiple sizes available.
As added bonuses, the ergonomic handle, easy cleaning and oven-safe features mean this saucepan is a great addition to your kitchen beyond making hot cocktails.
3. Cuisinart PerfecTemp Electric Tea Kettle
Whether you’re heating tea or a cocktail, this cordless kettle cuts down on the steps and the counter space. Six preset-temperature buttons allow you to perfectly tailor your drinks to just how warm you or your guests want them to be.
A “keep-warm” function gives you 30 minutes of heat, allowing you to continuously top off mugs without a reheat.
“For bar service, they have saved my life more than once,” says Scott Deigert, bartender and manager at Conductor Club at Kansas City’s Union Station, about electric kettles. Deigert also says they are perfect for heating things up quickly. “Plus, the instant rush of steam and scent usually sends everyone in the room wondering what is that great smell.”
The bonus feature of an auto shut-off for boil-dry protection makes this a safe, foolproof option for your kitchen.
4. The Barsentials Strainer Set
Every at-home mixologist needs a strainer set.
Reviewers praise the sturdiness and versatility of this affordable option. Inside, you’ll find three rust-resistant stainless-steel strainers that get it all done. The fine mesh option will take care of the crucial herbs and spices for hot cocktails.
The kit includes a long-handled spiral spoon for stirring up the finishing touches with any container.
5. Good Always Ceramic Mugs
In a world full of great coffee mugs, reviewers rave about the quality and style of this durable set with five color options. Able to hold 14 ounces, this mug reduces the need for a quick refill. Its wooden lid rests easily on the handle when not in use, keeps the heat in and helps you move easily from table to firepit without spillage.
The mug is made with lead- and cadmium-free ceramic that is dishwasher and microwave safe. But the fan-favorite is the easy-to-grip wood handle that keeps hands from getting burned.
6. PYKAL Thermal Carafe
This heavy-hitting carafe gives you stylish service and claims to keep beverages hot for up to 24 hours. And with the carafe’s vacuum insulated walls and an insulated no-spill lid, there’s no need to worry about spillage.
The two-liter vessel comes in classy satin-finished silver and gold stainless steel options.
7. Crock-Pot 7 Quart Slow Cooker
For big-batch gatherings, nothing beats the classic Crock-Pot creations. A quick spice roast and then slow steeping and infusions are possible with multiple warming settings.
“It can also be great for taking a pre-prepared/steeped cocktail and adding a fresh punch with things like citrus, which will grow as the night goes on,” says Deigert.
The dishwasher-safe stone inset cuts down clean-up time. From Hot Toddies to mulled wine, this slow cooker is a versatile and low-labor favorite. Not to mention, you can use your Crock-Pot to make dishes all year.
8. OXO Citrus Zester with Channel Knife
Warm citrus juice tends to pack a more intense punch. While many hot cocktails call for a citrus garnish, subtlety is key. Citrus peel twists are the perfect options. This efficient and straightforward garnish tool from the kitchen giant OXO gets the job done.
The channel knife notch safely cuts twists and strips to give your cocktail that “kissed” effect.
Spirit Recommendations to Fill Your Home Bar
To help you get started, here are some of our favorite spirits and the best bottles for making hot cocktails.
1. Laird’s Straight Applejack 86; $25, 94 points.
Bottled at 86 proof (hence the name), this applejack has a copper penny hue and rich brown-sugar scent. Vanilla and caramel tones lead into a cinnamon sting on the tip of the tongue. Best Buy. —Kara Newman
2. Navigator Straight Bourbon; $40, 93 points.
This is a Kentucky Bourbon aged three years in American oak, then finished in Cabernet Sauvignon casks from Napa Valley’s Navigator. The end result is a mellow sipper, with bright aromas that suggest golden raisin and peach nectar. The palate has a Sherry-like quality, showing dried fruit and a floral hint, finishing long on almond and lemon. —K.N.
3. Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey; $25, 92 points.
Look for a bright topaz hue and concentrated sweet vanilla bean and caramel aromas. The palate skews toward darker flavors: toffee, mocha, espresso and clove, with a drying finish. Adding water brings out a dark chocolate hint. —K.N.
4. Caffè Corretto Coffee Liqueur; $35, 91 points.
Inspired by Italy’s tradition of espresso “corrected” with a splash of liqueur. Mild, nutty aromas lead into coffee, hazelnut and candied pecan flavors, finishing with baking spice sizzle. Seems right for wintry cocktails. This liqueur is infused with ground coffee beans from Seattle coffee roaster Caffe Umbria, and minimally sweetened. —K.N.
5. Wodka Vodka; $13, 90 points.
This rye-based vodka is a little sweet and a little spicy. It offers faint marshmallow and coconut notes on nose and palate, finishing with peppery heat. Best Buy. —K.N.