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!

Spirits Review: Roggen’s Rum

This bottle was full when I started this review (just kidding, I can still type).

This bottle was full when I started this review (just kidding, I am still able to type).

If you haven’t heard of Tuthilltown Spirits by now, you should stop reading this post, go to the nearest liquor store (preferably ours), and get yourself a bottle of literally anything they make. The prices are by no means low, but the quality of everything they make is outstanding (don’t believe me? Ask the New York Times’ Eric Asimov), and Roggen’s Rum, one of their more recent releases, is no exception. Here’s a bit of information on Roggen’s Rum, straight from Tuthilltown Spirits’ website:

Tuthilltown Spirits has teamed up with the Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz to produce a limited run of aged rum celebrating the history of the Hudson River commerce and the early pioneers of the Hudson Valley. Made from Louisiana blackstrap molasses and aged in a combination of new and former whiskey casks of American oak, this rum is rich and flavorful and has been compared to Cognac in its overall demeanor. The Roggen brothers emigrated to the Hudson Valley from Switzerland and opened a mercantile that serviced communities up and down the river trading in various commodities including rum. Each bottle sold generates a donation to the Huguenot Historical Society.

In addition to that, the label for this rum is based on the original bill of lading from the Roggen brothers’ mercantile, which was reproduced with the help/permission of the Huguenot Historical Society, according to Don, our sales representative for Tuthilltown Spirits.

And with all that said, it’s time to taste this rum; but first, here are some specifics.

Stats

Packaging: 750ml bottle

Alchol content: 40% (80 proof)

Price: $38.99 + tax

Aging: Aged in new and former whiskey casks; no age statement.

Appearance

This rum is a slightly cloudy deep golden color; on the glass, its legs are numerous and move at a moderate pace.

Aroma

Charred oak, butterscotch, black peppercorns, and a hint of apple pie spice.

Taste

Okay – when I said it was “time to taste this rum,” I half lied. I’ve tasted this many times before, so what I meant was, it’s time to enjoy a hefty pour of one of my favorite spirits. When I first tasted Roggen’s Rum, I could have mistaken it for a bourbon – whiskey barrel aging imparts a very whiskey-like taste to this spirit. The molasses, however, delivers a pleasant musty sharpness that you could either associate with rum, or, as Tuthilltown Spirits suggested, Cognac. This is nowhere near as sweet as many of the South/Central American and Carribean rums I’ve tasted. Tasting notes include charred oak, red pepper flakes, grape must, and burnt sugar, with an incredibly long, oaky finish.

Final Thoughts

I have yet to try a product from Tuthilltown Spirits that I wasn’t impressed with – I even love their vodkas, and I am not normally the biggest vodka fan. This is a rum for a diehard bourbon drinker – it’s dry, smoky, and spicy, and at 80 proof, it’s not too fiery to drink neat. While I personally prefer it on its own (or with a cigar), I have a feeling it would do wonders for a Suburban.

The Weekly Cuvée, Volume 2

It’s time for another edition of the Weekly Cuvée! Sure, it’s been 2 weeks since the last edition, but that just means we have a lot more to talk about this time around. For anyone who missed the last one, the Weekly Cuvée is our (semi-) weekly wine and spirits news roundup. So without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in the wine and spirits world as of late.

Photograph by Gerard Prins

Photograph by Gerard Prins

First off, Great Northwest Wine reports that the 2013 Washington State grape harvest brought in upwards of 220,000 tons of grapes, shattering the previous record of 188,000 tons in 2012.  This significant increase in tonnage is due to the large number of new vineyards in Washington. “We’re not seeing any big surprises as far as yields being up or down,” Kevin Corliss, vineyard operations director for Ste. Michelle Wine estates, told Great Northwest Wine. Corliss added that Merlot and Syrah yields were a little better than they predicted, while Cabernet Sauvignon fell behind slightly.

Back in New York, Sen. Charles Schumer recently announced his support of a proposal to remove a Prohibition-era law banning the shipment of alcohol through the United States Postal Service, according to USA Today. Currently, the shipment of beer, wine, and liquor is restricted to private shipping companies – the new law would only allow federally licensed breweries, wineries, and distilleries to ship via the USPS. According to Schumer, removal of the law could bring an estimated $225 million to the struggling Postal Service.

And now for some global news – some of you may have heard the recent rumors of a worldwide wine shortage. Thankfully, experts have rebuked these rumors, according to an SFGate article. While a report from MorganStanley claimed the world’s wine demand surpassed supply by around 300 million cases in 2012, analysts say wine production has “increased significantly” while “consumption is stabilizing.” So while we, of all people, are not going to tell you not to stock up (we have great case discounts!), we will say that it’s probably not necessary to panic.

Finally, three whiskeys we love (and carry!) have made it on Wine Enthusiast’s list of 7 Must-Try New York Whiskeys. While we’re glad Catskill Distilling Company‘s Defiant Rye Whiskey, Tuthilltown Spirits‘ Hudson New York Corn Whiskey, and Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery‘s Black Dirt Bourbon all made the list, we find it a bit surprising that there was no mention of the Widow Jane Bourbon Whiskey. Regardless, it’s nice to see some New York State spirits featured in a publication as prominent as Wine Enthusiast.

And that’s it for this edition of the Weekly Cuvée – check back next week for our very first wine review, and be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter if you haven’t already!

Got a suggestion for our next review? Feel free to leave it in a comment!