Top 5 Cold Weather Cocktails

cocktail-1705561_1920As much as it depresses me to admit it, especially after the two weeks of balmy, summer-like temperatures we just had here in the Hudson Valley, it looks like we’re in for a cold weekend. But don’t disappear into your blanket cocoon just yet, because nothing helps to keep out the chill like a strong, boozy, winter cocktail.

Don’t get me wrong – no one is saying you can’t drink a Manhattan on a 90-degree day, but sweating profusely over a glass of bourbon is as deeply unpleasant as it is a great way to give yourself a headache. Cocktails like the ones I’m about to mention are best enjoyed while sitting by the fireplace after shoveling the driveway or after a long day of cross-country skiing.

Anyway, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 5 cocktails that are perfect for when it’s too cold to do anything but sit inside and have a drink.

Manhattan
Having been around since the 1800s, the Manhattan is about as classic a cocktail as you can make. There’s a lot of debate about which whiskey and which vermouth make the best Manhattan – some swear by rye whiskey, while others use bourbon for a slightly sweeter cocktail. Then there’s the question of whether it’s wasteful to make a cocktail with top-shelf whiskey. The bottom line is cheap whiskey won’t ruin your Manhattan, but good whiskey will make it that much better.

Ingredients
2 oz. Rye whiskey (Tuthilltown Spirits Manhattan Rye is fantastic)
1 oz. Sweet vermouth (extra points for Carpano Antica Formula)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry (optional but highly recommended)

Directions
Combine the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake or stir well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. (Variations: swap out the rye whiskey for scotch, and you have a Rob Roy. Use 1/2 oz. sweet and 1/2 oz. dry vermouth and it’s a Perfect Manhattan.) [Recipe from Chowhound.]

Suburban
I stumbled across this cocktail while researching variations on the Manhattan, and by the time I finished drinking my first Suburban, I continued to stumble for the rest of the night. This heavy hitter got me through the brutally cold winter of 2014 and is still one of my favorites.

Ingredients
1 1/2 oz. Rye whiskey
1/2 oz. Dark rum (try it with Albany Distilling Co Quackenbush Stillhouse Rum)
1/2 oz Port
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions
Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (Variations: none. It’s perfect – don’t mess with it.) [Recipe from Esquire.]

Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Buttered Rum might be the quintessential winter cocktail, right after Robitussin in Gatorade and Swiss Miss hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. While it’s delicious in its classic form, the nice thing about it is that you can replace the rum with pretty much whatever brown spirit you have in your cabinet.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
2 cups water
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dark rum (Myers, Gosling’s, or Appleton Estate work great)

Directions
Combine water, butter, brown sugar, and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. (Variations: replace the rum with bourbon, rye, scotch, brandy, or añejo tequila.) [Recipe from Epicurious.]

Moscow Mule
This spicy cocktail is especially effective at getting the chill out if you use a good, spicy ginger beer, like Reed’s Extra Ginger or Natural Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale.

Ingredients
2 oz. Vodka (Peace Vodka from Catskill Distilling Company is a great option)
1/2 oz. Fresh lime juice
3 oz. Ginger beer
Lime wedge for garnish

Directions
Combine vodka and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a mug filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime slice. [Recipe from The New York Times.]

Lagavulin, neat
While not for everyone, Lagavulin is undoubtedly one of the quickest ways to warm up on a blustery winter night. This cocktail is by far the most challenging on this list to make, so read the directions carefully.

Ingredients
Lagavulin 16 (amount may vary)

Directions
Pour Lagavulin 16 into your favorite glass. Add nothing. Sip slowly. [Recipe from Ron Swanson.]

Is your favorite winter cocktail missing from this list? Let us know in a comment or give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter!

Tim’s Top 5 Barbecue Wines

Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us, and we’re willing to bet that most of you are either going to barbecues or planning your own (weather permitting, of course). To help you pick out the best wines to pair with cookout classics, we had Tim Sweeney, owner of Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits, pick out his top five barbecue-friendly wines. Whether you’re slow-cooking some ribs in the smoker, searing steaks over some red hot coals, or just enjoying a few glasses of wine with some friends, these wines will be a sure hit at any Memorial Day party. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Messenger White Wine #1The Messenger White Wine #1 (NV)

($17.99 + tax; 13.4% alc)

Ripe, refreshing, and slightly off-dry, The Messenger White Wine #1 is a blend of 69% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Muscat Canelli, and 13% Riesling. While it would pair perfectly with spicier dishes thanks to its slight sweetness and notes of tropical fruit and spice, this multi-vintage wine is also excellent on its own.

Fiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine ZinfandelFiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

($21.99 + tax; 14.5% alc)

Zinfandel has always been one of my favorite grapes, so when Tim picked out the Fiddletown Cellars 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel for this list, I had no complaints. This full-bodied, jammy beauty of a red is bursting with berry and black cherry aromas and a noticeable hint of fragrant vanilla on the finish, making it a great match for your favorite barbecued rib recipe.

47 Friends California Table Red Blend47 Friends California Red Table Wine (NV)

($11.99 + tax; 13.8% alc)

47 Friends California Table Red Blend was created to take the guesswork out of finding a high quality, affordably priced everyday wine. This fruit-forward, easy-drinking red is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, and 10% other grape varietals, and would pair perfectly with burgers, steaks, chicken, or whatever else you happen to be grilling.

Orlana Rosé Vinho Verde (NV)Orlana Rose Vinho Verde

($9.99 + tax; 10.5% alc)

Vinho Verde (“green wine”) is a style of wine that originated in Northern Portugal. These young, fresh, and slightly fizzy wines are available in white, rosé, or (less commonly) red, and are made from a host of Portuguese grape varieties. Orlana Rosé Vinho Verde is exceptionally light and fruity with fresh berries on the palate, and is a fantastic all-day sipper for a barbecue. At $9.99 a bottle (and 20% off cases!), this is the ultimate summer party wine.

Lava Cap 2011 El Dorado Cabernet SauvignonLava Cap 2011 El Dorado Cabernet Sauvignon

($19.99 + tax; 14.5% alc)

Sometimes called the “King of Grapes,” the California Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most recognizable wines in the world. Lava Cap Winery’s take on this legendary style is a full-bodied yet incredibly smooth wine with notes of black cherry, vanilla, and a hint of spice. This dark and silky red is just begging to be served with a seared ribeye.

From now until the end of the long weekend (let’s call it Monday at 9 p.m.), all of these wines are 10% off individual bottles, so it’s easier than ever to make sure your party is fully stocked.

On a more somber note, with all the grilling, drinking, and celebrating going on, it’s easy to forget what Memorial Day is really all about – it’s about remembering the brave men and women who lost their lives in defense of our country. In honor of those fallen heroes, we hope that you celebrate safely and have a great Memorial Day weekend!