Winter means long nights and frosty mornings — and seasonal drinks full of spices, tangy cranberry or apple cider, and herbs. You can whip up these easy cocktails (and mocktails!) with standard bar supplies — no specialty ingredients or fancy cocktail smoker required. Read on for five easy recipes to keep spirits bright this winter.
Mulled wine is perhaps the most traditional winter drink — it’s been warming hands and bellies in Europe since the second century B.C. The British preparation of mulled wine includes whole spices like cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom, citrus juices and peels, dried fruits, and liqueurs like brandy. The German preparation, called glühwein, adds even more liquor and is served smolderingly hot. This mulled wine recipe comes together in a slow cooker for simplicity and is chock full of seasonal spices, maple syrup, and juicy citrus.
Negronis and their variations have popped up on bar menus all over the country, and it’s easy to see why — their characteristic bitterness and eye-catching ruby-red color make them a distinctive cocktail pick. Originally hailing from Italy, negronis are one part Campari, one part vermouth, and one part gin. This simple composition offers ample opportunity for variation: This winter spice negroni infuses the gin with clove, star anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Finish with an orange peel and sip your way into Italian bliss.
An old fashioned is the consummate classic cocktail, made up of only whiskey, sugar, Angostura bitters, and orange peel. This seasonal variation uses a rosemary simple syrup instead of plain sugar, which comes together in only 15 minutes by simmering rosemary sprigs in equal parts sugar and water. Add a splash of soda on top to dilute this potent beverage before garnishing with citrus and additional rosemary.
Cranberries get their shine at Thanksgiving when they appear as a sweetened sauce, but their rosy color and tart tang are appropriate all winter long. Cranberries are usually harvested in the fall or early winter, so they’re an easy way to add color to your winter drink intake. This recipe mixes cranberry juice, a sparkling wine like prosecco or champagne, and a splash of orange liqueur — all topped with ice cubes and a handful of cranberries and pomegranate seeds.
For those avoiding alcohol or doing a dry December, you’ll find hundreds of mocktail recipes to keep the creativity flowing — minus the booze. This mocktail uses apple cider and ginger beer as its base, accented with lime juice and garnished with mint. Skip the apple juice for this one — unpasteurized apple cider brings all the apple flavor and warming spices with none of the added sugar. Add a splash of ginger beer and you’ve got a mocktail fit for sipping by a crackling fire, clad in your warmest sweater.
Winter nights may be long, but these delicious cocktails and mocktails with seasonal winter ingredients whip up with ease to keep your indoor nights especially cozy. To find the new home for all your cocktail shakers, strainers, and bar cart, check out the chef-quality kitchens and inviting entertaining spaces in our homes at The Canyons™ by Shea Homes.