What exactly defines a winter drink? When we look through the history of cocktails, there are a number of drinks that have become synonymous with a season: no one would argue against the daiquiri, the piña colada, the margarita, or, of late, the spritz as being the cocktail-world equivalents of a “Greetings from Paradise” postcard. Likewise, when that first hint of winter comes marching in, there are drinks that have historically been its flag bearers.
Hot toddy. Mulled wine. Spiked cider. Hot buttered rum. Irish coffee. The cocktail world’s classic hot drinks have long led that procession—they are, after all, drinks quite literally built to fortify us against the cold. But winter drinking today goes far beyond spiking one’s mug of steaming liquid with rum or whiskey. The craft cocktail renaissance has cracked open a brave new world of possibilities. Today, a “winter drink” can span everything from herbal coolers to batched and bottled cocktails for a crowd to concoctions like the daiquiri—whose all-important citrus component is, it should be noted, at its prime in winter—reimagined with cool weather in mind.
So, where to start? Many of the drinks that home enthusiasts call on for their winter menus are mere tweaks and riffs on existing classic cocktail blueprints. That’s why our exploration of what winter drinking means today begins with the ten essential classic cocktails that feel best suited to winter—think the Manhattan, champagne cocktail, old-fashioned, and more. As everyone from the Dalai Lama to Social Distortion has said: Learn the rules before you break them. In cocktails, the same is true. Once you understand the most basic cocktail blueprints, it becomes easy to bend them in order to make them your own.
To that end, there are just as many best practices as there are hacks and shortcuts in this book. You’ll learn the ins and outs of making a spirit infusion; how to batch drinks for a crowd; how to bottle your favorite stirred drinks and freeze them ahead for on-the-fly Manhattans and martinis; three-step syrups and shrubs to keep on hand; and the tips and tools you’ll need to build a winter-ready bar. You’ll also learn how to turn everything from a piña colada to a margarita into drinks that feel more at home in a fireside armchair than a beachside lounger. (Believe in the winter piña colada.)
This collection of seventy recipes is packed with hot, spiced, and buttered seasonal imperatives, plus plenty of our editors’ nostalgic favorites and homegrown creations. Our aim, beyond fortifying you against the cold and arming you for the holidays, is to take the best of what we at PUNCH are seeing from today’s top bartenders and make it accessible for home bartenders—because, after all, that’s exactly what we are.
Copyright © 2018 by Editors of PUNCH. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.