Depending on where you are on the planet right now, the view from your window would likely be colored by white flakes of snow or soft yellow sunshine. Winter is here and the holiday season can’t be all that far away. Moving into December when the daylight takes its leave and the cold air begins to nip at the tips of your fingers, all you can think about is the warm comfort of home, a chair by the fireplace, soup for dinner, and possibly a dram before bed to lull you to sleep.
As soothing as a good scotch before a good night might sound, there is still a degree of aristocratic stuffiness about that idea. While brandy is usually the preferred after dinner tipple because of its inherent fruity dryness, a good whisky cocktail is a little better suited to the spirit of the season. If you are not a particular fan of the other seasonal fares like mulled wine or spiced rum, then why not just mix up a mean batch of colorful concoctions to add a little cheer to the long winter nights.
This one is a spin on the old classic formula for Irish coffee and works equally well as a pick-me-up or a strong post-meal digestive. Unlike the original, this recipe swaps out the triple distilled dash of Jameson Irish Whiskey or Bushmills for a healthy measure of unpolished rye. Top it up with espresso, coffee liqueur, a splash of simple syrup, and an ounce of cream before finishing it with a measure of Amaro Montenegro and a sprinkle of cardamom powder to bring out the whisky’s natural spiciness.
Down with sniffles and a sore throat? Nothing that a healthy dose of whisky can’t fix. Another typically Irish drink, this cocktail’s flavor profile can be completely turned around with a little creative thinking. Use a good Speyside scotch like Longmorn to lend the base a touch of brininess and add half a measure of cranberry juice. Make a Genièvre Syrup by dissolving half cups of sugar and honey in a steaming mug of Earl Grey tea. Let it cool down for a bit before you add the scotch and cranberry mix and serve with a sprig of thyme and a little lemon zest.
The ultimate winter cocktail recipe without which the night before Christmas wouldn’t be as silent as they are – the eggnog is older and more British than the great Shakespeare himself. Beat brown sugar and egg yolks in a cup till the color grows light. Add the milk, cream, whisky (Seagram’s Canadian works wonderfully), and a smidgen of ground nutmeg to finish this feast in a cup. Serve warm and well before Santa drops by.
Bitter Candied Apple
Since it is winter, there is hardly any point in leaving out the fruit of the season from this list, especially when the smell of warm apple pie is wafting through the air every morning, noon, and night. A sipper of a drink that is almost like a dessert in itself, it is built on a base of matured apple cider and a sweet bourbon like Jack Daniel’s. If you want to add a hint of freshness, use some lime juice to cut the sweetness and introduce a bit of complexity with a splash of Angostura and Licor 43.
A variation on an old rum cocktail recipe, this mix calls for a nutty bourbon (Wild Turkey works great) to complement the bouquet of spice that goes in. It takes a little time to make because you’ll have to macerate the sticks of cinnamon and star anise fruits in the slightly emulsified solution of warm water and butter. For best results, put together the mix in a tight-lid jar, seal, and leave it outside overnight. Before serving, top with warm water to tone down the intense flavors that have developed.