Toast the Season with These Cozy Cocktails

Enjoy warming libations from the coolest hotel bars around.

By Jeanne O’Brien Coffey
Photography by Christopher Testani

Whether you’re just off the slopes or in from an afternoon of shoveling snow, the right drink can brighten the darkest winter evening.

“On a cold day, a good winter cocktail needs to warm you up,” which can mean it’s served heated like a hot toddy or spirit-forward like a Manhattan, says Tim Fischer, bar manager at Element 47, Little Nell Hotel’s après-ski hotspot in Aspen. “However, after lots of turns [on the slopes], you want something refreshing. Think Sancerre, Aperol spritz, or a margarita,” Fischer notes.

Paige McGroarty, assistant food and beverage manager at The Langham, Boston, agrees that winter cocktails can go well beyond the stereotypical snifter of brandy. “A good winter cocktail can range from reminding you of the tropics to evoking spending time with the people you love during the holidays,” says McGroarty, who created the menu at The Fed, The Langham’s cozy new cocktail lounge, opened in summer 2021 as part of a top-to-bottom renovation. “A beverage does not need to be served hot to make you feel the warmth, but instead can do that with bold flavor profiles and spices.”

As Orlando Gonzalez, bar supervisor at Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut, says, “A winter cocktail should leave you feeling the same way you would as a kid coming inside from playing in the snow and having a mug of hot chocolate.”


Courtesy of Orlando Gonzalez, Mayflower Inn & Spa, Washington, Connecticut

This drink is perfect for the colder months in New England. Served in a heated glass, it will not only keep your hands warm but the comforting sensation will spread with every sip.

2 oz Hennessy V.S.O.P.
.5 oz Grand Marnier
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a heated snifter. Express an orange twist over the top.



Courtesy of Laurie Falk, Owl Bar at Sundance Mountain Resort, Sundance, Utah

This spicy, chill-chasing sipper is rumored to cure a cold. You can enjoy it on the heated patio at the Owl Bar while watching skiers schuss down the hill.

1.5 oz Sugar House Bourbon Whiskey
.5 oz agave syrup
.5 oz lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a 16-ounce heat-proof cup or mug. Add a pinch each of cayenne, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground clove. Add hot water until glass has one inch of room left and stir. Add a whole cinnamon stick and four whole cloves. Finish with a squeeze from a lemon wedge, then drop lemon wedge in and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.



Courtesy of  Tim Fischer, Element 47, Little Nell Hotel, Aspen

This cocktail features a medium-spiced tequila and textured mouthfeel from house-made strawberry jam, balanced by lime and grapefruit.

2 oz Morita-spiced Espolón Reposado
3 barspoons strawberry jam
.5 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz lime juice
Splash demerara syrup (equal parts demerara sugar and water, heated until dissolved, then cooled)

Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a coupe or Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a rim of sugar and dried Morita peppers, then top with a dehydrated strawberry.



Courtesy of Val Hastings, The Cottage Restaurant and Café, Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, New York

The spicy drink pairs well with both sweet and savory foods. It’s also perfect for happy hour near the inn’s cozy outdoor fireplace. Seeking social distancing? The Cottage serves dinner in decommissioned gondola cabins on its deck for a truly one-of-a-kind après-ski experience.

1 750-ml bottle of mulled wine (Mirror Lake uses Swedish Hill Winery Glögg) or any sweet red wine
3 cloves
1 star anise
1 whole orange, sliced
3 cinnamon sticks

Add all ingredients to a pot and warm over low heat for approximately 20 minutes until fragrant. Serve in a wine glass garnished with an orange slice.



Courtesy of Paige McGroarty, The Fed, The Langham, Boston

This drink has whiskey, spice, and everything nice. The Langham, Boston Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye is an exclusive expression with a bit of a kick, so it pairs well with bold ingredients without losing its integrity.

1 oz Langham Knob Creek Single Barrel Rye (substitute regular Knob Creek or Whistle Pig)
1 oz coffee-infused Bully Boy Amaro*
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir all ingredients together and serve on a large cube in a rocks glass.

*The Fed infuses amaro with coffee in-house. Mix three tablespoons ground coffee with one bottle (750 ml) of Bully Boy Amaro. Let sit for four hours, then strain through cheese cloth, bottle, and store—no need to refrigerate.



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