Here we come a-wassailing

A primer of classic drinks to get you through the winter

Grant Tillery

The icy streets and chilling temperatures of winter provide little incentive for venturing out in the cold to parties and bars. Nights in become the new norm, and nothing sounds better than a warm room to relax in and a warm body to cuddle up with. A little liquor makes staying home enjoyable rather than bearable. And with the right people, a good beverage helps stave off gloom and grouchiness caused by the first foot of snow and perpetually gray skies.

But what’s to drink during the long, cold winter? While wine is fine, it doesn’t seem quite seasonally appropriate. Beer is too ubiquitous and chills the body instead of warming it up. If you like your drinks like your winters — strong and brutish — straight vodka might be your friend, but the taste and hangovers get old quickly.

Winter is primetime for cocktails, which provide a jolt of hard liquor without overwhelming the imbiber. Here are a couple that are sure to warm the spirits, and one clean recipe for those who don’t drink.



Manhattans evoke elegance, decadence and fervent traditionalism. Maybe it’s due to the name’s association with a certain borough in New York, but the old-school allure and strength of the cocktail makes it a perfect choice at holiday parties when you want to get the conversation flowing. This recipe from Esquire details the classic way to make a Manhattan.


2 ounces rye whiskey

1 ounce vermouth

2-3 dashes bitters


1.        Place cocktail glass in the freezer for 30 minutes.

2.        Measure 2 oz. whiskey and 1 oz. vermouth into a standard pint glass.

3.        Add two-three hefty dashes of bitters.

4.        Place ice cubes in the palm of your hand. Snap the bowl of a spoon against the cube four-five times.

5.        Add the ice and stir the drink.

6.        Strain the drink into the chilled glass.

7.        Garnish with maraschino cherry or however you please.


Hot Toddy

Hot toddies are perfect drinks for sitting by the fire and setting the mood, thanks to the addition of heat through hot water. This recipe from Epicurious has no frills or fancy accoutrements; it merely functions as a drink to soothe the soul when it’s cold outside.


2 tablespoons bourbon

1 tablespoon mild honey

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup boiling-hot water


1.        Pour bourbon and honey into a 6 oz. glass.

2.        Squeeze lemon juice and add to the mix.

3.        Add hot water; stir until honey is dissolved.


Homemade eggnog

For those who don’t drink alcohol, plain eggnog is a delicacy of its own. While the unctuous texture may turn off some, at its best it is a luxuriant, slightly outré sensation to the palate.

This recipe from Bon Appetit calls for rum, but that’s easily skipped as the novelty of homemade eggnog makes it work just as well sans liquor.


6 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

Pinch of kosher salt

3 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

Whole nutmeg and cinnamon stick (for serving)


1.       Whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl until sugar dissolves. Then whisk in the milk and cream.

2.       Cover and chill for at least two hours.

3.       Beat egg whites, using an electric mixer in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently add into eggnog base.

4.       Grate nutmeg and cinnamon as desired.