4 hot cocktail recipes to save your social winter life

4 hot cocktail recipes to save your social winter life

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This has been the year of the to-go cocktail and there is no reason why it should end now. Tighten your thermos with a sip of the good stuff is how we are going to survive this socially distant winter. But before you throw that lukewarm coffee into your thermos for something more powerful, promise us two things:

A: You either drink these at home or have a designated driver.

Two: You know that alcohol is not a warming strategy, even if it feels that way. (Alcohol is a vasodilator and does the opposite of warming you up. Intoxication has been a partner in many deaths from hypothermia.) Sit down and keep your drinking reasonable so you do not make bad choices in the cold.

If you have not yet read our guide to getting the most out of your thermos, start here. Then choose your drink from the recipes below and let it puppy up.

Bonfire cider

If you’re in charge of cocktails for a crew, pack a 32-ounce thermos with this spicy, bourbon-spiked cider. This is the creation of Darlin Kulla, a mixologist at Succotash in Washington, DC. It’s on the sweeter side, but the hot spices and bourbon make sure you burn in the back of your throat. This provides more spicy syrup than you need, but don’t worry, you will find other ways to use it. Kulla suggests swirling a spoonful in your morning coffee.


  • 6 ounces optional bourbon (Kulla recommends Redemption Bourbon.)
  • 3 ounces spicy syrup
  • 22 ounces local unfiltered apple cider

Spicy syrup

  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup sugar


Shake all the spices in a two-liter pan on the stove. Shake them until you smell the spices, but do not let them go from roasted to burnt. When the spices smell, add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the sugar and stir until it is completely dissolved. Say and refrigerate what you do not put in your thermos.

To make the cocktail, stir the spicy syrup and cider together. You can heat your mixture on the stove or in the microwave (in steps of 30 seconds) until it is the perfect temperature. Finally, add the bourbon and pour it all into your thermos.

High West’s Quit’n Time

(Courtesy High West Distillery)

At the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah, it’s almost always time to stop putting on your puffy and going out into the Wasatch Mountains. In other words: we trust their assessment of what to pack in a thermos. Even when their suggestion is hot lemonade. Yes, lemonade is usually a kid-friendly summer drink, but hear us out: Spicy lemonade is a whole other beast. Add a dash of rye and the lemonade quickly becomes very mature. This recipe gives a large batch – three liters of only the spicy lemonade, which you can then hand out for individual cocktails. It should stay in the fridge for about two weeks. We think you’ll review it before then.


Spicy lemonade

  • 5 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 18 to 20 cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • About 5 cups of lemon juice, fresh or bottled

To make lemonade

Add all ingredients except lemon juice to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and say. Measure the volume of the spicy syrup mixture. For each cup of syrup, add one cup of lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir to combine.

To make the cocktail

You can scale this recipe up in any quantity you like by using a ratio of 3: 2 for spicy lemonade and rye. Heat your thermos, then add three ounces of hot lemonade and two ounces of rye. Add a cinnamon stick or a fresh slice of lemon for good order.

Tequila te

Believe it or not, Texas gets cold enough to warrant hot drinks. When the mercury drops, Frank Vallas, beverage manager at Dallas-based Tacos and Tequila, brews this blend of hot tea and tequila. His favorite tea is chai, but you can opt for Earl Gray if that’s more your style. If you can not get Blue Nectar’s Reposado Extra Blend tequila, then look for something with a bit of age to it and ideally some vanilla notes, says Vallas. This recipe makes a 12-ounce cocktail.


  • 8 ounces hot Stash Chai Spice Black Tea. (You can also use Stash’s Cinnamon Vanilla tea or Earl Gray. Use two bags of Earl Gray for a strong cup; for the others, a single teabag can handle.)
  • 1 1/4 ounce Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend Tequila
  • 3/4 ounce Licor 43
  • 3 demerara sugar cubes (or 3 teaspoons sugar)
  • 2 lines Angostura orange bitters
  • 3/4 ounce half and half, almond cream jug or almond milk
  • Small pinch of salt


Pour eight ounces of hot water into a preheated thermos. Add a chai tea bag, a small pinch of salt and three demerara sugar cubes. Cover and let it soak for five to eight minutes. Then add bitter, cream, Blue Nectar tequila and Licor 43. Stir gently before putting the lid on.

Mulled wine To-Go

(Courtesy Curio)

What is a thermos cocktail recipe without a good mulled wine? This is the courtesy of the San Francisco restaurant Curio, where they make it in large batches to heat outdoor diners inside and out. This provides six servings (or four if you are really honest with yourself).


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 4 to 6 ounces gin or whiskey (optional)


Mix water, sugar and spices in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peel and juice of the orange and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.

Strain the syrup and remove solids. Add the syrup back to the pan and combine with the bottle of wine. Heat gently until it boils. You can fill your thermos with this or gild the lily further by adding a four-to-six-ounce pour gin or whiskey to the top.

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