If you’re waiting until evening to pour yourself a stiff drink, chances are good you’ve carefully considered the old adage, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” But if you think your winter cocktail options are limited to classics, such as the white Russian, a citrus punch, or the hot toddy, you also should consider the corollary adage that even when it’s freezing cold in North America, “it’s summer somewhere else.”
If you’re hoping to forget it’s winter outside, you have a couple of options. You can go for a tropical drink that will immediately transport you to somewhere sunny and warm. Or you can make a drink that will warm you up, subtly enough that it won’t remind you going outside necessitates putting on three pairs of socks, two sweaters, and the kind of coat that’s unflattering on even a model’s physique.
One thing’s for sure. In most cases, trying to forget it’s winter involves avoiding drinks you associate with Christmas trees, roaring fires, and snowy days. Need some new ideas? Read on to check out our favorite stiff drinks that will help you remember it’s summer somewhere — even if that somewhere isn’t here.
1. Moscow Mule
Mark Bittman reports for The New York Times that though making a good drink requires some care, anyone can do it. That’s because “most real cocktails contain little more than fresh citrus and a few other accompaniments like bitters or simple syrup,” plus “enough booze so that you can taste it.” In formulating his own summer cocktails, Bittman generally uses “a stiff pour of alcohol, about a quarter cup, about a third more than the average ‘jigger.'” “Most drinks made with the average jigger taste weak. At least to me,” he explains. Bittman’s Moscow mule is a great drink for winter. The ginger beer is subtly warming, but the lime juice makes it taste like July.
- Ginger beer
- Lime juice
- Simple syrup
- Candied ginger to garnish
Directions: Add 1 ½ teaspoons of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of simple syrup to ¼ cup vodka. Instead of soda, top with ginger beer. Garnish with candied ginger.
2. Sanguinello Spritz
Punch magazine reports that one of the best ways to enjoy a stiff drink when you aren’t ready to let go of summer is to winterize your favorite summer cocktails. The magazine’s staff writes, “One key is to take stock of what’s not in season and what is, and figure out how to swap those ingredients into the drink you want to modify.” The staff also advises when you’re adjusting a drink for a new season, “the most forgiving to work with are long, tall and bubbly drinks.” Hence the publication’s Sanguinello spritz, which “features blood orange juice, vanilla syrup, and Campari’s more rounded cousin, Cappelletti, all tied together with a spice-heavy Barolo Chinato.”
- 1 ounce blood orange juice
- 1 ounce Cocchi Barolo Chinato
- ½ ounce Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano
- ½ ounce vanilla syrup
- Prosecco, to top
- Blood orange half wheel to garnish
For the vanilla syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 vanilla bean
Directions: To make the vanilla syrup, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Use a small knife to split the vanilla bean, and scrape the contents into the pan. Also add the bean pod. Turn the heat to low, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Strain and bottle. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
To make the Sanguinello spritz, add all of the ingredients, with the exception of the Prosecco, to a mixing tin. Add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain over ice into a Collins glass, and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a half wheel of blood orange.
3. Blood Orange Margarita
Another summer cocktail masterfully winterized by the Punch staff is the margarita. (If the margarita isn’t synonymous with late, hot summer nights at the beach or the pool, then we don’t know what is.) The publication’s blood orange version substitutes ruby red blood orange juice for the lime juice. It “pumps up the volume” with mezcal instead of tequila. And it adds a splash of rosemary-infused Cointreau, all to convert the margarita “from a summer classic into a winter beauty.”
- 2 ounces tequila or mezcal
- ½ ounce rosemary-infused Cointreau (see below)
- ¾ ounce blood orange juice
- ¼ ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce agave syrup (simple syrup optional)
- Blood orange wheel for garnish
For the rosemary-infused Cointreau
- 2 large sprigs rosemary
- 10 ounces Cointreau
Directions: To make the rosemary-infused Cointreau, add rosemary, broken up so it’s completely submerged, to 10 ounces of Cointreau. Add the cap, and let the mixture infuse for 24 hours. Strain and then bottle.
To make the blood orange margarita, add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Salting the rim is optional. Garnish with a blood orange wheel.
4. Vermontucky Lemonade
The Manhattan is a classic fall or winter cocktail. Even its ingredient list — whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters — sounds wintry. But if you want a drink that will make you forget the snow and ice and wind chill, the Manhattan isn’t it. Fortunately, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen went on a quest to find a perfect version of the Manhattan — and ended up ordering (and replicating) a lemonade-on-ice cocktail that transports you “to a summery kind of place.”
As the recipe explains, “The bourbon and maple syrup give it a depth of flavor a lot of warm weather drinks lack, and the lemonade makes you wish you were out on a patio somewhere, watching a summer storm roll in. Fortunately, there’s no need to wait for summer to start making a habit of this drink.”
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2½ cups cold water, plus additional if needed
- ¼ to ½ cup maple syrup
Directions: Mix the lemon juice with 2 ½ cups of water and ¼ cup maple syrup. Taste it for sweetness. If you want it sweeter, add the remaining ¼ cup maple syrup. If you liked the sweetness, add ¼ cup cold water instead. Stir to mix, and you’ll have a quart of maple lemonade.
Fill a glass with ice. Pour 1 shot (or 1 ½ shots if you like a stiff drink) of bourbon over the ice. Top with the maple lemonade.
5. Elderflower Cocktail with Herbed Ice Cubes
Athena Calderone at EyeSwoon has the perfect way to “bottle up summer” and revisit it when the weather isn’t quite as balmy. Calderone created herbed ice cubes that infuse flavor into a drink while making it look just like a summer farmer’s market. And to which summery drink did Calderone add these flower-infused ice cubes? An elderflower cocktail that can make the coldest winter evening feel a little more like summer night.
For the ice cubes
- Distilled water, boiled and cooled
- 2 extra large ice cube trays
- 12 edible flowers (flowers that are grown to be eaten, without pesticides)
- 6 small sprigs of thyme
For the elderflower cocktail
- 1 part elderflower sparkling water
- 3 parts Italian Prosecco or any brut sparkling wine
- Lemon rind
Directions: To make the ice cubes, fill the ice cube trays about ⅓ of the way full with the distilled water. Add a flower facing down. In 6 of the cubes, also add a sprig of thyme. Freeze. Once frozen, fill ⅔ of the way full with the distilled water. Freeze. Fill to the top with water, and freeze again.
To make the cocktail, place the ice cubes in a wine or champagne coup glass. Add a lemon rind to each one. Add 1 part elderflower sparkling water followed by 3 parts Prosecco.
At Food52, Mayukh Sen makes the “case for a cold cocktail in the winter.” Sen writes that, like many other city dwellers, he tends to crank up the furnace “so high that my residence is uninhabitably warm.” Not longer after, he explains, “It starts to feel like summer in my apartment.” What should you do if you have a similar heating situation? Mix up a drink that’s icy and refreshing, such as Erik Lombardo’s Southside. “At its heart, it’s basically a fresh gin gimlet with some mint in the shaker,” he writes.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce lime juice
- ¾ ounce simple syrup (mixed 1:1 sugar to water by volume)
- 4 to 6 mint Leaves
Directions: Shake all of the ingredients with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
For an easy variation, add 2 wheels of cucumber to the shaker to make an Eastside. Or serve tall in an ice-filled highball topped with soda to make an Eastside or Southside Rickey.
7. Hemingway Daiquiri
Need a drink born out of a request by an author who famously loved a stiff drink? Try the Hemingway daiquiri. This delicious cocktail made Liquor.com’s list of cocktails to “bring summer to your winter.” The drink was reportedly invented “after a chance encounter in Havana’s El Floridita bar.” As Kaitlyn Goalen reports, Hemingway’s “request for a daiquiri made with half the sugar and double the booze created an unbalanced drink: one that bartenders couldn’t help but right through the eventual addition of maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice.”
- 2 ounces white rum
- ¾ ounce key lime juice
- ½ ounce grapefruit juice
- ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup
- Whole lime wheel to garnish
Directions: Add all ingredients to a blender, and fill with ice. Cover, and pulse until the drink has a slushy consistency. Divide the contents of the blender among 8 wine glasses. Garnish each with a lime wheel.
Another unapologetically tropical drink you’ll want to mix all winter long? The hurricane, which Liquor.com notes originated in New Orleans in the 1940s, is the perfect cocktail if you want something that’s “a bit too boozy and sweet.” Sounds like the perfect stiff drink to us. This rum-based drink is best described as “super boozy.” Mix one up on a winter night, and you’ll leave all worries about icy sidewalks and endless winters behind.
- 2 ounces white rum
- 2 ounces dark rum
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 1 ounce orange juice
- 2 ounces passion fruit juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce Grenadine
- Half wheel of orange and cherry, to garnish
Directions: Add all of the ingredients to a shaker, and fill with ice. Shake. Strain into a large hurricane glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a half wheel of orange and a cherry.
9. Rosemary-Tangerine Cooler
On Bon Apetit’s list of “bright cocktails” that will make you forget it’s snowing outside, Christina Chaey writes the best winter cocktails are like a “mini vacation in a glass.” One of her suggestions? The rosemary-tangerine cooler. Starting with citrus is always a promising direction to take when concocting a mixed drink for the dreariest winter evenings. And the tangerines in this recipe get caramelized with rosemary and sugar before they’re added to the rum.
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar, plus more
- 4 tangerines, halved crosswise
- 16 rosemary sprigs, divided
- 2 cups white rum
Directions: Heat a cast iron skillet or a griddle over high heat or on a grill grate. Pour some raw sugar onto a small plate, and dip the cut sides of the tangerines into the sugar. Scatter 8 sprigs of rosemary into the skillet. Add the tangerines, cut side down. Cook until the sugar caramelizes, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
Quarter the tangerines, and discard the rosemary. Place the tangerines in a pitcher. Add 2 tablespoons of raw sugar, and muddle to release the juices. Add rum and 6 cups of ice. Stir until the pitcher is frosty. Divide among glasses (yields 8 servings), and garnish with the remaining rosemary sprigs.
10. Rye and Pomegranate Punch
Another drink Chaey suggests mixing up when the mercury drops? This rye and pomegranate punch. This drink incorporates a few wintry ingredients, such as rye whiskey and freshly ground cloves. But it also leans on summery juices, including lemon juice and pomegranate juice. And club soda adds just the right amount of fizz, so you can pretend it’s summer — or at least that there isn’t snow piled up outside your door.
- 2 cups rye whiskey
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- ½ cup honey simple syrup
- ½ cup Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- ½ teaspoon Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 12-ounce can club soda
- Freshly ground cloves for serving
Directions: Combine the rye whiskey, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, honey simple syrup, liqueur, and bitters in a punch bowl. Chill until cold, usually about 3 hours.
Thirty minutes before service, add ice cubes or an ice ring. (The punch will taste better slightly diluted.) Just before serving, add the club soda, and garnish with cloves. Serve over ice.
11. Spicy Matcharita
Jodi Taylor reports for The Coveteur that a favorite cocktail at The Black Lodge on Prince Street is the spicy matcharita. This stiff drink will be perfect if you want to chase away the winter blues with something spicy and green — a combination that’s probably pretty unique among the drinks you’ve mixed up at home. It incorporates standbys, such as tequila and lime juice — plus matcha and a jalapeño pepper.
- 3 ounces Casamigos Tequila Blanco
- ½ ounce Matchabar matcha
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- ½ ounce agave
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 1 jalapeño pepper
Directions: Add the agave and lime juice into a shaker. Add the matcha powder and jalapeños, and muddle. (The more you muddle, the spicier the drink will taste.) Pour in the tequila and Cointreau.
Shake, and double-strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.