6 warm cocktails to heat up your holidays

Try Gaspare’s Winter Punch for a warm crowd pleaser.

The weather outside is frightful, and though the fire inside is delightful, it doesn’t hurt to add a little extra warmth to your tipple now that winter has officially started. Sure, you can put a little whiskey in your coffee, or top off that cup of tea with brandy, but why not add a whole new world of innovative and tasty hot winter cocktails to your repertoire? Wow your holiday guests, or just make yourself jolly and bright with these six steaming seasonal drinks.

Gaspare’s Winter Punch

By Julie Reiner, owner of Clover Club in Brooklyn

There is no better way to heat up your party than a bowl of warm punch. This recipe takes mulled wine and turns it on its head by adding Campari and cranberries to the mix.

Serves 8 to 10


  • ¾ cup Campari
  • ¾ cup Orange Liqueur
  • 2 bottles of medium-bodied red wine (Try the inexpensive Beronia Rioja Crianza, a blend of tempranillo, garnacha and mazuelo grapes)
  • 6 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


Sort cranberries and discard bruised fruit. Rinse and place in a six-quart pan with raisins, orange zest, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cranberry juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes to blend flavors. Add wine and sugar and heat until steaming (about 6 to 8 minutes). Do not bring to a boil. Add Campari, orange liqueur and almond extract. Strain out cranberries and ladle into punch cups. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and star anise.


Kahlua Mulled Wine

For a twist, warm two parts mulled wine (try this recipe minus the sugar) and one part Kahlua coffee liqueur for a sweet, almost chocolately-flavored treat.  

Extra Fancy Toddy

By Robert Krueger of Extra Fancy

Sip on this fun take on the Hot Toddy, which utilizes gin instead of whiskey. It’s bright, fresh, and with the added rosemary and orange, tastes like winter, only warmer.

Serves 6 to 8


  • Peel of 2 Meyer lemons
  • Sprig of rosemary, about 6-inches
  • Juice of 6 Meyer lemons
  • Juice of three tangerines
  • 1/2 cup Dorothy Parker Gin
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup orange Curacao or other orange liqueur
  • 2 bottles white wine (Try Hahn Pinot Gris, an inexpensive white that has a crisp apple essence)


Bring all to a simmer on the stove or in a slow cooker. Allow at least 20 minutes to steep then serve hot with a slice of tangerine, a piece of Meyer lemon peel and sprig of rosemary. 


Hot Buttered Rhum

By Maxwell Britten, head bartender at Maison Premiere, in Brooklyn

Ho, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum is what you will be saying after a sip of this adventurous cocktail. Made with rum, apple cider, and mole bitters, it’s a great way to warm up.


  • 1 ounce La Favourite Rhum, brown-butter washed*
  • ½ ounce Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
  • ½ ounce Creme de Cacao
  • 4 ounce Zeigler Apple Cider
  • 10 dashes Bittermans Mole Bitters


Mix everything together and heat slowly in a sauce pan. Pour and serve.

*To make the brown butter rum


  • 1 quart La Favourite Rhum, or any other rum agricole, which is made with cane juice
  • 1 pound unsalted butter


Heat butter in pan on medium to low heat and let butter foam. Gently rock the pan until it turns a light brown. Take off heat and let sit for one minute. Add butter to rum and stir. Butter will foam up then settle down. Let sit overnight and butter fat will rise to the top forming a solid layer. Skim off the butter fat solids and strain through fine strainer to keep only the liquid. 

Baked Alaska

By Jared Anderson from 15 Romolo in San Francisco

Unlike the iconic dessert, this drink is a lot easier to make, though it does take a little time. But, you do get to light your cup on fire, so if that doesn’t warm you, at least this cocktail made with Pavan, a liquor comprised of sweet grapes and orange blossoms, will.

Serves 2


  • 1.5 ounce Pavan liqueur
  • 1 ounce apple juice  
  • 1 ounce spiced apple butter *
  • 2.5 ounces chardonnay (Try Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay)
  • ½ ounce Lemon Hart Demerara Rum 151 proof
  • 1 ounce hot water


Pour the rum into the glass and ignite it with a match. In a separate glass, mix all other ingredients. Next, carefully strain liquid over the burning rum. Garnish with an orange twist .

*For apple butter you can simply make by reducing fresh apples with water, cider vinegar, and spices; or for a quick and easy solution, you can find it at most food stores and farmers markets.


Mulled Cider

By Jeremy Hawn, mixologist at Gotham Bar and Grill in Manhattan

Forget your average hot cider and try the ultra creamy and slightly spicy one they offer at this classy restaurant.

Serves 7 to 10


  • 2 cups organic cider
  • 1/2 cup aged rum like Mount Gay 1703 Rum
  • 1/2 cup Irish whiskey 
  • 2 ounce ginger syrup*
  • 4 cinnamon sticks


Pour all contents into a small pot and simmer for about 20 minutes until the cinnamon starts to soften and dissolve. This is when you know its ready to be served. Garnish with a cinnamon stick in the mug.

*Ginger syrup is equal parts fresh pressed ginger juice and simple syrup (made by boiling one cup of water with one cup of sugar). You can make your own ginger juice in a juicer, or buy a bottle of it from the Ginger People.