8 Warm Whiskey Cocktails
Whether your favorite pour is Bourbon or rye, Scotch or Irish, there’s a warm whiskey cocktail for everyone this winter. Gather friends and family ’round the fireplace, mug in hand, and let the January winds blow.
Recipe courtesy Sidedoor, Chicago
Featuring a Chicago-made whiskey, this spice-forward libation is dosed with a citrus-spiked compound butter, also divine slathered on warm slices of cornbread.
- 2 ounces FEW Rye Whiskey
- 1½ ounces Sorel Liqueur
- 1 ounce Génépi Alpine Liqueur
- 4–5 ounces hot water
- 1 medallion (about 1 tablespoon) grapefruit bitters compound butter (recipe belowl, unflavored butter may be substituted)
In a tempered glass, stir together rye whiskey and liqueurs. Top with the hot water. Add compound (or unflavored) butter, akin to the style of hot buttered rum.
Grapefruit Bitters Compound Butter:
Mix together softened butter with grapefruit zest and Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters, to taste. Allow butter to harden in the refrigerator before using.
Recipe courtesy Bacari PDR, Playa Del Rey, California
Coffee and cream? Yes, please. This eye-opener is usually made with coffee from Bacari PDR’s sister venue, Nature’s Brew. A pinch of cardamom accents rye whiskey’s spice as well as the robust coffee.
- 4 ounces fresh-brewed coffee
- 1 ounce rye whiskey
- ¾ ounce Amaro Montenegro
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- ¼ ounce coffee liqueur
- ½ ounce cream
- Pinch of ground cardamom
Combine all ingredients in an Irish coffee mug or standard coffee cup. Stir well with spoon or straw. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe courtesy Erin Sullivan, head bartender, The Third Man, New York City
If you like Mexican hot chocolate, here’s your winter drink. Bold Bourbon is balanced by cocoa and the kick of cayenne. The name refers to Fernet Brancamenta, a bitter amaro softened with mint.
- 6 ounces hot chocolate (made with powdered cocoa mixed with equal parts water and sweetened condensed milk)
- 2 pinches cayenne, plus additional for garnish
- 1 ounce Fernet Brancamenta
- 1 ounce Four Roses Bourbon
- 1 mint sprig, for garnish
- 1 marshmallow, for garnish
Heat hot chocolate with water, condensed milk and cayenne. Pour into mug. Add the Brancamenta and Bourbon. Garnish with the mint sprig and a marshmallow sprinkled with cayenne.
Recipe courtesy Brett Elms, assistant beverage director, Anfora, New York City
At Anfora, smoky Islay Scotch is treated to the earthy tones of Genièvre (juniper) syrup, made with crushed juniper berries and mugicha, a Japanese roasted barley tea. At home, Earl Grey tea provides a similar effect.
- 2 ounces Islay Scotch whisky
- 1 ounce Genièvre syrup (recipe below)
- ¾ ounce cranberry juice
- 4 ounces hot water
- Rosemary sprig, for garnish
- Lemon zest, for garnish
In a heat-safe mug, combine Scotch, syrup and cranberry juice, and stir to incorporate. Top with the hot water, and garnish with rosemary sprig and lemon zest.
½ cup hot water
½ cup honey
2 Earl Grey tea bags
Mix together hot water and honey. Add tea bags and allow to steep for 5 minutes before removing them.
Recipe courtesy Zack Bezunartea, beverage director, Boqueria, Washington, D.C.
This easy sipper combines mellow Jack Daniel’s whiskey with plenty of apple cider and Licor 43, a vanilla-tinged Spanish liqueur.
- 4 ounces apple cider
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- 1½ ounces Jack Daniel’s
- ¾ ounce Licor 43
- 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Pour the apple cider and lemon juice into a saucepan, heating until just before the liquid boils. Turn off the heat, add the next two ingredients and stir. Pour into a mug and add the Angostura bitters just before serving. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Recipe courtesy Christopher Brian, general manager and beverage director, Plan Check Kitchen & Bar, Los Angeles
Fighting Cock is a six-year-old high rye Bourbon, meaning it’s mostly sweet and slightly spicy. At 103 proof, it’s also high octane. But this recipe—essentially, a ginger-tinged warm lemonade—takes the edge off nicely.
- 2 ounces Fighting Cock 103 proof Bourbon
- ⅓ ounce honey syrup (mix equal parts honey and hot water)
- ⅓ ounce ginger syrup like Monin
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 5 ounces hot water
Combine all ingredients in a wine glass and stir. Garnish with lavender sprig and lemon peel.
Recipe courtesy Colicchio & Sons, New York City
This hot toddy variation balances the fresh, bright flavor profile Irish whiskey with touches of pumpkin, walnut and blackstrap molasses. The key ingredient here isn’t actually the whiskey, but nocino—a liqueur native to Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, made from green, unripened walnuts.
Previous hard to come by in the U.S., imported bottlings have begun to pop up at shops around the nation. But increasingly, American distilleries have begun producing their own versions of this classic digestif, with liquors ranging from vodka to rum acting as the base spirit. Look for domestic offerings from Skip Rock Distillers in Washington State, Watershed Distillery in Ohio, and Wood Hat Spirits in Missouri, for an updated take on an Irish Whiskey Hot Toddy.
- 2 ounces Irish whiskey, preferably Jameson or Powers
- ½ ounce nocino
- ¼ ounce lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin purée
- 2 ounces hot water
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mug and stir until well incorporated. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Recipe courtesy Alibi American Whiskey
Spices and brown sugar set off the naturally nutty flavors of this American-made whiskey, or sub in your favorite Bourbon.
- 2 ounces Alibi American Whiskey
- 2 tablespoons batter (recipe below)
- 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
- Star anise, for garnish
In a mason jar, stir together the whiskey, batter, topping the rest with hot water. Garnish with cinnamon stick and star anise.
1 stick butter
5 ounces brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar and spices. Transfer batter to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- 1Scaling Mount Hillaby
- 2Venetian Coffee
- 3Hot Mentha Mess
- 4The Seaside Toddy
- 5Bitter Candied Apple
- 6Kentucky NyQuil
- 7The Ichabod Crane, an Irish Whiskey Hot Toddy
- 8Hot Buttered Whiskey