What You Should Be Drinking This Winter
What’s your favourite winter serve? What’s the drink you like to settle down with when the sun sets at around 5pm? If you’re anything like me, it’s a warming boulevardier – a dark, bitter cocktail that packs a hell of an alcohol punch. It’s the sort of drink that’ll put your hair on your chest and one of the only ways I can fight off S.A.D.
We’ve already done a rundown of what you should be drinking in the summer (hint: it’s a lot of fresh wine and fruity cocktails) but we thought that you might need a little help in knowing what to drink during the winter, too. To find out all the best drinks you should be treating yourself to in the cooler months, I reached out to some of the top drinks experts around. Here’s what they think you should be imbibing in the cold.
Joshua Owens-Baigler – Lambrusco Grasparossa
"Lambrusco Grasparossa (make sure to check label for grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC as there are many different types of Lambrusco out there!) is a wine that we are really enjoying pairing with our food as the weather cools a little. It’s a surprising full-bodied red sparkling wine that is really versatile and pairs beautifully with grilled and fried food (we also love it as an aperitif) that we feature often on our menu. It is from just south of Modena, has been made since the Roman times and presents an amazing contrast between a fruity and approachable nose and a savoury, meaty palate. Ours is made by Bruno Zanassi and we are addicted!"
Joshua is the co-owner of Angelina.
Thomas Whitall – Winter Cocktail
"At Daffodil Mulligan, we will be serving a hot cocktail featuring Powers Irish whiskey infused with earl grey with the addition of cherry herring liqueur, Falernum (hints of almond, nutmeg, clove and caraway), served with Jerry Thomas decanter bitters, cinnamon and orange."
Angelos Bafas – Penicillin
"Everyone appreciates the warmth of a glass of whiskey during a cold, misty night. However, there are some amazing whiskey-based cocktails that are perfect for freezing temperatures, giving you a feeling of warmth and cosiness.
For the cold nights, I definitely recommend a classic Penicillin cocktail, at SOMA we serve one with a twist with sesame oil, smoked ginger and grilled pineapple. This cocktail is the perfect balance between sweet and sour, with hints of spice and a nice subtle kick of smoke!"
Angelos is the bar manager at SOMA.
Laura Christie – Chestnut Old Fashioned
For a seasonal twist on a classic you cannot beat our chestnut old fashioned. The chestnut syrup will keep happily in the fridge for months and the cocktail itself is a dream to make, simply stirring ingredients over ice. There’s just the right amount of sweetness to cut against the rye whiskey, it’s dangerously sip-able and perfect for an evening besides a roaring fire.
Laura Christie is the co-owner of Oklava.
Antonino Lo Iacono – The Mob Toddy
"My winter drink of choice would be The Mob Toddy (created in honour of Mob). It’s a nod to the 1920s that Le Magritte pays homage to. It’s bourbon-based and I think the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald would have enjoyed it."
The Mob Toddy recipe:
- 60ml Maker’s Mark bourbon
- 15ml Amaro Nonnino
- 15ml Maple Syrup
- 7.5ml fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves
- 4 citrus peel (tangerine, lemon, orange, grapefruit)
- 4 coffee beans
- 2 drops D.R. Harris Pick-Me-Up Bitter
- Hot water
Method: Safely put all of the cocktail ingredients into a teapot and let them infuse for a few minutes. Once infused, pour the cocktail into a vintage port glass.
Serve In: Vintage port glass
Antonio is the Bar Manager at Le Magritte Bar & Terrace, The Beaumont Mayfair.
Matt Ottley – Cafe Irlandese
I love Irish coffees and it’s the perfect drink for the winter season. What makes the drink fun is the ability to tailor it to your own taste, it doesn’t have to be Irish whiskey. There are lots of liqueur coffee variations, I make mine with Italian brandy. Another great way to twist this drink is to add a liqueur to the cream float for an added flavour dimension. Like Branca Menta or frangelico. The fun is in the experimentation!
Matt is the head bartender at Luca.
Sergio Leanza – Samba Rock
"One of my go-tos in this weather is a beautiful orange wine from Umbria in Italy called Arancio 2020 by Conestabile della Staffa (distributed in the UK by Natural Born Wines) a 100% Trebbiano made naturally that has just the right texture, tannins, crisp fruit and vibe you need to comfort you on a wintery day. For cocktails, I tend to lean towards old fashion style serves: short “brown and boozy”.
One of my favourite from our menu is a Samba Rock, a combination of a crisp dry Calvados, aged Cachaça, a homemade syrup of coconut water and Demerara sugar and angostura bitters, all stirred down, served on a big clear block of ice and garnished with a Granny Smith apple slice. The strength of the Calvados will give you warmth while the aged Cachaça adds spices and body and the coconut mellows everything in the background. Beer wise, I just have one favourite that works perfectly in these months: Peckham Pale by locals Brick Brewery, a North American style pale ale that has just the right balance of freshness, floral and bitterness."
Sergio is the owner of Funkidory.
Abhi Sangwan – The Sangam Cocktail
The Sangam cocktail from Manthan, Mayfair, made from Chai spice-infused white rum, tandoori pineapple, pineapple juice and Tiki bitters. The whole Indian spice mix used for masala chai (star anise, dried ginger, clove, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cloves) gives a great winter/ festive essence to the cocktail, and the Tandoor chargrilled pineapple gives a smoky character and body to the drink.PS: This drink could be served warm too, if not preferred over crushed ice.
"Despite being associated with summer, our Blanco Tequila is filled with delicious Manuka Honey, roasted Agave and Green Wood tasting notes followed with a warming spiced finish; and if that doesn’t sound perfect for winter I don’t know what does. Stepping away from the expected dark sipping drinks and pairing this tequila with delicious winter cranberries the “Pandora’s Box” offers a light and balanced cocktail that has a secret smokey finish."
George is the Bar Manager at Burnt Orange.
Liam Nelson – Storchi Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna
After the terrible festive season last year I'm going whole hog this winter. You should drink bubbles all year round but in winter I move to sparkling red and there isn’t a better one than Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna and we have just put my absolute favourite on at Pastaio from Storchi. It’s purple and frothy in the glass. Think wild berries and violets. Made exactly as Champagne is. It's a real treat.
Liam is the co-founder of Pastaio.
Johnny Florea – Boulevardier
"My go-to winter drink is the Boulevardier, a variation on the classic Negroni, characterised by the perfect balance of bitterness, booziness and sweetness.
This rich and warming drink is perfect on a chilly fall or winter evening. I usually replace the bourbon with a peated whiskey … as the smoky character embrace the complex flavours of the drink. Either a lemon peel or an orange peel can be used as a garnish, and less frequently, a cocktail cherry… my recommendation is a grapefruit peel."
Johnny is the bar manager at Smokey Kudu.
Will Amherst – Seville Orange Martini
We tend to think of Seville Oranges only once a year - in January or February, when the marmalade making season begins. Actually, the Spanish harvest kicks off in November and you can get your hands on them from mid-December onwards if you’re savvy enough. The bitter, aromatic zest and tart juices make for an intriguing alternative to lemon in everything from cocktails to salad dressings. At Morito, we infuse gin with the rind and use it to mix a dry martini - taking the drink back to its origins of orange bitters and Curaçao.
Will Amherst is the Bar Manager at Downstairs at Morito.
Sam Hancock – Terroir Al Limit
This winter drink everyone should be sipping on is the wines of Terroir Al Limit – a joint venture between Dominic Huber and Eben Sadie. The focus here is on biodynamically farmed fruit sourced from old gnarly plots of Garnacha and Carignan vines. In the past, I have found the wines of Priorat to be a bit of an alcoholic slap around the chops, but the wines Dominic makes tend to be a little lighter on their feet. Employing whole-bunch fermentation and ageing the wines in concrete tanks and large, old oak barrels results in a style of Priorat with lifted aromatics of incense, plum and hoisin and lick of salt on the finish. This wine will easily stand up to rich sauces and tender red meats. Venison Sunday roast and a warm fire anyone?
Sam is the assistant head sommelier at The Clove Club.
Flavio Russo – Shibuya Meltdown
Shibuya is a ward in Tokyo where the Japanese go, after a brutal day of work. This traditional undertaking of psychological sublimation is referred to by the locals as the Shibuya Meltdown. The Meltdown is typically performed in three acts. The first act always includes a mass consumption of sake and or beer by the participants. The second act requires a scene where the players perform long monologues filled with boasting, gossip, insipid complaints and silly nonsensical declarations of importance. The third and final act comes when one or all pass out and retire in an inappropriate place for sleeping (train station, Ramen bars or street). We recommend our guests enjoy only first and second acts after a few of our Signature Negroni with Sencha Sake after a long, hard winter’s day.
Flavio is the bar manager at Yatay.
"Sicilian wines will always have a special place in our hearts, they are some of the most transportive wines that throw you into the heart of the Mediterranean and warm you in winter. One producer we were lucky enough to visit a few years ago was a very humble man named Lorenzo of Azienda Agricola Pianogrillo. They produce one of Sicily’s only DOCG, ‘Cerasuolo di Vittoria’. Theirs is a 50/50 blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola, a very drinkable medium-bodied red that ticks all boxes. Pronounced smokey bacon aromatics and dark cherries with a softness from being aged in large old oak."
Jimmy Stephenson is the owner of Hector’s.