7 of my Favorite Winter Whiskey Cocktails

Winter on the West Coast this year hasn’t really felt like—well, winter. I’d be putting it lightly to say that it's a contrast to last winter, when some ski resorts in California saw as much as 800 inches of snow. Needless to say, powder days have been few and far between this winter.

However, that hasn’t stopped me from making my favorite winter whiskey cocktails. Because whiskey, and warm whiskey cocktails. And some of my favorite cocktails are actually warm cocktails, making for nice alternatives to your token cocktails served cold. Add the elements of a fireplace and/or s’mores, and you’ve got your own DIY après-ski experience.

So with still many weeks of winter (officially) left, I’m sharing some of my favorite winter whiskey cocktails. 

Hot Toddy

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. hot water
  • Cinnamon stick (or other favorite spices like nutmeg, ground cinnamon, clove, anise, et.)
  • Lemon wedge

While many classic bourbon cocktail recipes follow a certain traditional method of ingredients, the hot toddy is more of a subjective warm bourbon cocktail recipe. Most hot toddy cocktail recipes at least call for whiskey, honey, lemon juice, hot water, and autumn spices. However, variations may include apple cider vinegar, tea, brown sugar, orange slices, lemon peel, or some combination of these ingredients. For this more traditional hot toddy cocktail recipe, you'll simply add the whiskey, honey, lemon juice, and hot water to a mug and garnish with lemon and your favorite winter spices. 

Hot Toddy.jpg


  • 1.5 oz. whiskey
  • .5 oz. Becherovka
  • .25 oz. spiced simple syrup
  • Dash of bitters
  • Orange peel as garnish

This is my winter take on an Old Fashioned. As one bartender told me, one of the principle ingredients, Becherovka (an herbal liqueur from the Czech Republic), tastes like Christmas. To make it, I first made a spiced simple syrup, which was equal parts sugar and water (brought to a boil), that I then steeped with cinnamon sticks, clove, and star of anise. After it had cooled down, I followed my traditional recipe for an Old Fashioned. I added the whiskey to a mixing glass with a couple pieces of ice and stirred for 10 seconds, before adding more ice and stirring. Lastly, I added the Becherovka, simple syrup, and dash of bitters, and stirred more. To serve, I strained it into a rocks glass over a big ice sphere (kind of like a snowball, yeah?)

Snow Fashioned.jpg

Hot Date

This cocktail recipe comes from one of my favorite cocktail bars, the Blind Barber in Los Angeles. When I asked them what they wanted to name it, without hesitation, they replied, the Hot Date. This cocktail may not include ingredients you have sitting in your cupboard, like ginger root, but the payoff is a flavorful, aromatic drink that'll give you granny's hot toddy a run for her money. That, and if there's one drink from this list you want to impress a date with, this is it.

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. honey
  • 4 oz. hot water
  • 3/4 oz. lemon
  • Several mint leaves
  • Muddled ginger root
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Slice of ginger

Add all of the ingredients (except for one mint leaf and the slice of ginger) together and stir. Garnish with mint and slice of ginger.


Kyoto Nights

Kyoto Nights.jpg
  • 1 oz. Japanese whiskey
  • 2 oz. hot water
  • 4 drops cacao extract
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 clove

This warm winter whiskey cocktail recipe comes from the bar Dirty Habit in San Francisco. By itself without the cacao extract, this is a nice Japanese version of a hot toddy, since you probably don't just have cacao extract lying around. However, the cacao is a nice touch you probably don't get in your everyday cocktail. To make it, you'll add all of the ingredients (except the cacao) to a saucepan and warm. Then press the lemon peel and clove to further release the flavors. Meanwhile, fill a Belgian beer glass or other heatproof glass with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes while the cocktail mixture warms. Empty the glass and then pour in the cocktail mixture. Top with four drops of the cacao extract.

Southern Cinnamon Hot Cider

  • 4-5 oz. hard apple cider
  • 2 oz. cinnamon whiskey or moonshine
  • Couple cinnamon sticks
  • Couple apple slices

The Southern Cinnamon Hot Cider is quite possibly the easiest warm whiskey cocktail on this list. While it doesn't call for a sweetener, if you want some sweetness to it, perhaps use a sweeter hard apple cider, or add a little honey or agave to taste. To make it, you'll add the cider, cinnamon sticks, and apple slices to a saucepan and warm. Press the apple to release some of the juice and then pour into a mug and top with a cinnamon-flavored whiskey or moonshine. (This is also a great winter whiskey cocktail to make in a big batch.)


Honey Bourbon Hot Cider

  • 2.5 oz. hard apple cider
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Couple of thin red apple slices.

I originally wrote about this warm apple cider cocktail a couple years ago, and liked it so much that I keep bringing it back. The inspiration came from Hello Natural, which did a very similar cocktail recipe, featuring ingredients which if you don't already have in your house, then you should. It's kind of like your next-level hot toddy, with the addition of hard cider. I would recommend playing with some different types of dry and sweet ciders to see which you like the best. I've used Stella Artois Cidre in the past, though I recently went with Strongbow Gold, which is a nice balanced hard cider. To make it, you'll add the cider, honey, cinnamon stick (or some dashes of cinnamon), and apple slices to a small saucepan and heat, but only enough to warm and not boil. Pour the warm mixture into a glass and add bourbon and enjoy.

Hot Apple Pie Punch

  • 10 oz. hard apple cider
  • 4 oz. bourbon
  • Ginger beer
  • Several Cinnamon sticks
  • Half a lemon, sliced
  • Several thin red apple slices
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 tbsp. honey

So I actually stumbled upon this recipe while making the above honey bourbon apple cider recipe. And it may actually be my favorite warm cocktail recipe. The ginger beer was a late addition, as it seemed like there was just something I could add to amp up the flavor. And Bundaberg ginger beer was it! For this warm cocktail recipe, I made a big batch, quadrupling the servings. As such, you may want to give or take from the numbers I include above based on how sweet, cidery, and bourbony you want it. To make it, I added everything but the ginger beer and bourbon into a saucepan and heated on a low temperature. While it was heating, I pressed the lemon and apple slices with a muddler to release the juices. I then removed from the stove and topped with bourbon and ginger beer (which for this serving, amounted to about three to four ounces). What I found, however, was that the longer I let it sit and keep warm, the more flavorful it became. This may be my new go-to winter cocktail.