No luxurious evening by the fire is complete without a hot drink in hand. ’Tis the season for sipping hot cocoa, spiced tea, and yummy cider, and every once in a while, I like to mix it up with a splash of top-shelf liquor or a spiked seasonal punch. Whether you’re just hanging at home with a good book, having friends over for happy hour, or throwing a festive holiday party, I’ve put together some of my favorite recipes for delicious cold weather warm-ups—many of which are delightful without the liquor. Enjoy!



1 Cinnamon &
Tequila Hot Chocolate

It’s no secret—hot chocolate is one of my favorite treats of the season. This recipe from Aida Mollenkamp has a fun Mexican flair to it—made with real melted chocolate and vanilla bean, plus cinnamon and Tequila to give it a kick.


3 cups almond milk or whole milk
2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks plus more for garnish
1 whole vanilla bean split lengthwise and seeds  scraped and reserved
5 ounces dark chocolate (about 72%), finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
2 to 3 ounces good quality Anejo tequila

Place almond milk or milk, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and vanilla seeds in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. When it simmers, set
mixture aside to steep for at least 10 minutes or until the mixture is flavored to the level you like.
Return milk to stove over medium heat and whisk chocolate, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add 2 ounces tequila and simmer another 5 minutes. Taste and add additional sugar or tequila, as desired. Serve garnished with a cinnamon stick.



2 Classic
Hot Toddy

Whether there’s frost on the windows or you’ve got a case of the sniffles, you can’t go wrong with a classic hot toddy. Honey and lemon adds a simple, sweet complement to bourbon or cognac. Serve it pipping hot and let it warm you right up.


2 to 2½ oz bourbon, brandy or cognac
1 to 2 tablespoons honey (to taste)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
4 oz boiling hot water

Stir bourbon, honey, fresh lemon juice and dash of bitters in serving glass. Add boiling water. Stir once more. Garnish with a lemon slice, and enjoy!

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3 Smoked Whiskey
Apple Cider Cocktail

Few drinks say fall like hot apple cider. Ideally you enjoy this whiskey cocktail after a light autumn stroll through the orchard, but it works just as well after a day of work.


2 to 2½ oz bourbon, brandy or cognac
1 to 2 tablespoons honey (to taste)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
4 oz boiling hot water

Stir bourbon, honey, fresh lemon juice and dash of bitters in serving glass. Add boiling water. Stir once more. Garnish with a lemon slice, and enjoy!



4 Hot
Buttered Rum

Hot buttered rum can be a lovely after-dinner drink or sweet happy hour treat in the colder months. Basically just dark rum mixed with a sweet and spicy butter, it’s an easy classic if you’re craving something creamy.


Spiced Butter
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp coarse salt

2 ounceS dark rum or spiced rum
2 – 4 ounces very hot water
2 – 3 tsp spiced butter mixture

First make the spiced compound butter. Add all the spices and sugar to the soft butter and mix well. Put
the butter mixture on a piece of cling wrap and mold it into a log shape. Wrap it tightly and place in the fridge or freezer to harden.

Heat some water on the stove or in the microwave. Place 1 tbsp of the butter mixture in a mug along with the rum. Once the water is hot, pour it in with the rum and butter. Mix well.

You can drink it just like this or you can blend it up with an immersion blender or a magic bullet. Either way is delicious!

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5 Holiday
Spiced Wine

You know the holidays are around the corner when you catch the scent of mulled wine. I love to make a pot for a seasonal dinner or cocktail party. It’s festive, fun, and zesty enough to enjoy with food.


2 bottles (750ml each) of red wine
3/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 oranges, sliced into rounds
2 lemons, sliced into rounds
2 star anise
1 vanilla bean, split in half

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and place over medium-low heat. Heat the mixture for 60 minutes, making sure not to bring the mixture to a boil.

Once the flavors have come together, strain out the spices and reserve the citrus rounds for serving. Serve the warmed wine with a round of lemon and a round of orange.

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6 Gort’s Reprieve
Irish Coffee

I’m not big on coffee cocktails, but this Bon Appetit recipe gives the classic Irish drink a sophisticated appeal. Between the spices, the bitters, the amaro and the mint, it actually sounds delicious and chic.


4 ounces hot freshly brewed coffee
1 1/2 ounces Redbreast Irish Whiskey
3/4 ounce amaro (such as Luxardo Amaro Abano)
1 teaspoon simple syrup
4 dashes Bittermens New Orleans Coffee Bitters (optional)
Whipped cream, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice (for serving)
1 fresh mint leaf
2 coffee beans

Stir coffee, whiskey, liqueur, simple syrup, and bitters in a glass to combine. Top with whipped cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice and garnish with mint leaf and coffee beans.



7 Smoked Maple
Bourbon Chai Tea

I love the idea of pairing a smoky flavor with chai. With notes of vanilla and caramel as well as hickory, Knob Creek’s Smoked Maple Bourbon would add just the right dash of sweetness and complexity to stand up against the spices.


6 ounces steaming hot water
2 chai tea bags
3 ounces Knob Creek Maple Bourbon
1 ounce half-and-half
Cinnamon stick for garnish

Pour the steaming water over the chai tea bags in a heatproof mug. Let steep for 3 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Add the maple bourbon and half-and-half and stir to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

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8 Boozy Pumpkin
White Hot Chocolate

How to one-up your run-of-the-mill pumpkin spice latte? Make it with fresh ingredients of course! This recipe would be just as good without the booze—and I bet it would even hold up with a shot or two of espresso instead.


1/2 cup white chocolate chips (or chopped)
2.5 cups milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 ounce Kahlua or 1/2 ounce Bourbon
Whipped cream and caramel for topping (optional)

In a saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the milk, whisking often (about 3 minutes). Once melted, add the rest
of the milk, the pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spice and stir vigorously to incorporate.
Pour a small amount of the hot chocolate into two serving glasses, add one ounce of Kahlua OR one-half ounce of bourbon (bourbon is much stronger in taste). Top off with hot chocolate, stir and then top with whipped cream, caramel sauce and more pumpkin pie spice (optional).

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