16 Cocktails to Sip All Winter Long

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[Photographs: Elana Lepkowski, Vicky Wasik]

We've already shown you our favorite hot cocktails, but there's more to winter drinking than toddies and spiked cider: plenty of chilled drinks are perfect when the temperature drops, too. Brown spirits are an obvious choice—but not the only one—as are seasonal fruits like apples, pears, and cranberries. Here are 16 of our favorite winter cocktails, from a smoky tea punch and an apple-flavored Negroni variation to a classic holiday eggnog.

Apples

Apple Elixir

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[Photograph: Elana Lepkowski]

Apple is one of the first ingredients I turn to when I'm thinking about making a winter cocktail. This drink uses the fruit in three forms: hard cider, a cider concentrate spiced with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and black peppercorns, and Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy. Not enough apple for you? Garnish the drink with a dried apple chip.

Get the recipe for Apple Elixir »

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail

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[Photograph: Elena Lepkowski]

You can get a similarly complex apple flavor by mixing Laird's with fresh fruit, as we do in this effervescent cocktail. We stir the apple brandy with diced apples, nutty oloroso sherry, and Mandarine Napoléon (or Grand Marnier, if that's what you have). We finish the drink with a few ounces of chilled prosecco.

Get the recipe for Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail »

Guns of Barbaresco

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This rich, fruity cocktail mixes apple brandy with lemon juice, orange bitters, and an herb- and spice-packed Italian digestivo called Barolo Chinato. We sweeten the drink with a double-strength Demerara simple syrup so that it doesn't get too watered down. A star anise pod makes for a striking garnish.

Get the recipe for Guns of Barbaresco »

Mela d'Alba (Apple Brandy Negroni)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

As much as we love a traditional Negroni, the basic recipe is also ripe for variation. Here we keep the Campari and sweet vermouth (try Carpano Antica), but replace the gin with apple brandy. We use two parts of brandy to one part each of Campari and vermouth to cut the Campari's sweetness.

Get the recipe for Mela d'Alba (Apple Brandy Negroni) »

Tangy Cider Fizz

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[Photograph: Elana Lepkowski]

Sometimes I want a cocktail that will knock me out, but at other times a little moderation is in order. The only alcohol in this drink comes from a two-ounce pour of Carpano Antica, which we mix with apple cider and lemon juice. A barspoon of brown sugar sweetens it all up, and we top it off with club soda.

Get the recipe for Tangy Cider Fizz »

Sazerac and Cider

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[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

It's not a traditional combination, but a Sazerac pairs remarkably well with cider. The intense fruit flavor of a good hard cider is a natural partner for a spicy rye, and it also goes nicely with the dash of absinthe in this drink.

Get the recipe for Sazerac and Cider »

Whiskey

Old Fashioned Cocktails (for a Crowd)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Winter is a time of entertaining, and entertaining is easier when you can make drinks for a crowd ahead of time. The key to making a large amount of a cocktail is to add a little water to the mix, which mimics the dilution that occurs when you mix drinks with ice. The recipe itself is super simple: for a dozen guests all you need is a bottle of rye (or bourbon, if you prefer), simple syrup, and Angostura bitters.

Get the recipe for Old Fashioned Cocktails (for a Crowd) »

9 Ladies Dancing Punch

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[Photograph: Elena Lepkowski]

Making punch is another great option for holiday parties. This one uses a base of smoky Scotch and chai tea. We also add sweet Lustau East India Solera Sherry, lemon juice, spicy Angostura bitters, and a sweet, fragrant vanilla-cinnamon syrup. An ice block is the best way to keep the drink cold—freeze cranberries inside the ice for an extra festive touch.

Get the recipe for 9 Ladies Dancing Punch »

Sparkling Bourbon Pear Cocktail

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[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

This drink takes a while, but most of the work can be done ahead of time. You start by roasting pears, which get puréed, and then you combine the purée with maple syrup and bourbon to make a flavorful mixer. Once that's cooled down in the fridge, all you have to do is pour it into glasses and top it off with sparkling wine.

Get the recipe for Sparkling Bourbon Pear Cocktail »

Old Timber (Rye Cocktail With Fernet)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This brooding cocktail with triple sec and fernet is perfect for those who love an Old Fashioned. You're probably most familiar with Fernet-Branca—while I'm a fan, it gives this particular drink an unpleasantly medicinal taste. Try using other brands like cinnamon-y Jelínek Czech-style fernet, minty Fernet Leopold, or super-dry Fernet Francisco.

Get the recipe for Old Timber (Rye Cocktail With Fernet) »

Other Drinks

Classic Eggnog

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Forget the carton from the store—the best eggnog is made at home with eggs, sugar, milk, cream, and rum or brandy. You can shake the ingredients together by hand for a creamy drink or use a stand mixer for a lighter, frothier one. Aged eggnog has gotten some buzz online recently. While it's worth trying, we prefer the fresh stuff.

Get the recipe for Classic Eggnog »

Italian Buck (Amaro and Ginger Beer Highball)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

If you've ever had a Dark 'n Stormy and thought, "This is good, but I wish it were a little weirder," this unusual drink is for you. It keeps the ginger beer, but replaces the rum with a pair of bittersweet Italian liqueurs: orangey Montenegro and vegetal Cynar. While the recipe calls for three ounces of ginger beer, we'd recommend starting with two and seeing how you like it before deciding whether or not to add more.

Get the recipe for Italian Buck (Amaro and Ginger Beer Highball) »

Shagbark's Sangaree (Madeira and Lemon Cocktail)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This distant relative of sangria is made with Madeira, a nutty, caramelly fortified wine that we love to drink on cold nights. We keep the drink simple, shaking the Madeira with simple syrup and lemon juice. A grating of nutmeg complements the toasty aromas of the wine.

Get the recipe for Shagbark's Sangaree (Madeira and Lemon Cocktail) »

Smoked-Rosemary Rum Punch

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[Photograph: Elena Lepkowski]

It's Christmas tree season, but you don't need to go buy a tree to enjoy the aroma of pine: Just stay home and make this festive punch with rum, orgeat, and a citrus syrup infused with woodsy smoked rosemary. Taking some inspiration from the world of tiki drinks, we combine two rums here: one gold and one overproof.

Get the recipe for Smoked-Rosemary Rum Punch »

Smoky Sage Punch

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[Photograph: Elena Lepkowski]

If you'd rather not light rosemary on fire in your home (but trust me, you really should), then try this cocktail, which gets its smokiness from lapsang souchong tea. We mix the tea with lemon juice, orange curaçao, a sage syrup, and gin—Beehive Distilling's Jack Rabbit has a botanical base that goes very well with the orange and sage.

Get the recipe for Smoky Sage Punch »

Tangy Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail

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[Photograph: Elena Lepkowski]

I love a strong cocktail on a cold night, but for a big holiday meal I'd prefer something lighter. This sweet-tart cocktail made with a cranberry-black pepper shrub and sparkling wine fits the bill perfectly. The shrub can also be made into a non-alcoholic drink with simple syrup and club soda (plus orange bitters if you're okay with just a tiny bit of alcohol).

Get the recipe for Tangy Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail »