However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light." — Stanley Kubrick
Winter. If you are anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with the season. We love that it snows so we can ski but hate to shovel and drive in it. And it's cold. With shortened days the darkness settles in like a thick, black fog. There are ways we can make the winter plunge into darkness more manageable, like retail therapy and going deep into the bike trainer pain cave. If you need another avenue, try homemade cocktails. If you are new to the DIY mixology game, don't worry. Go down the internet rabbit hole. Get a mixology book. Ask your favorite (or any, for that matter) bartender. Experiment.
I have had the luxury of having roommates with professional mixology chops, and fancy myself as a slightly above average alchemist of the adult elixirs. My neighbor has one-upped me and keeps a Black Book of his favorite recipes. It's a blast to open those pages. One of the great things about recipes is that you can substitute, experiment and explore different ingredients and measurements. For my winter mash-up, I tend to go simple. Here are a few ideas.
My standby for when it's cold, dark, late, Monday-Sunday and I need a drink to warm my soul is the Whiskey Toddy. I have used many types of whiskey but prefer a good mid-shelf bourbon like Maker's Mark or Buffalo Trace. You can lessen the citrus to 1/8 slice, but I generally pour a healthy amount of whiskey and the 1/4 slice is a good balance.
ULLR HOT CHOCOLATE
ULLR is the Norse god often associated with winter, skiing and snow sports. This is another super simple, super warming and delicious recipe, a camping and backcountry favorite combining the glory and happiness derived from hot chocolate, and the wintery powers of the original Cold Miser, ULLR.
One of the OG ski resort bar offerings, the B-52 Coffee still maintains its rightful spot in the winter cocktail pantheon. It's a little more complex than other offerings, but trust me when I tell you a winter dance party is always nearby when the B-52 comes out.
PORT, AMARO, AND LIQUEURS, OH MY!
OK, so maybe you're not that into working with a recipe, or maybe you don't like mixed drinks. Ask a friend or head down to your closest liquor store for recommendations. Here are a few options to whet your winter whistle.
Amaro is an Italian herbal liqueur commonly consumed as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bittersweet flavor, sometimes syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 40%. Amaro Nonino is my favorite, but Averna, Nardini and Montenegro are also delicious.
Port wine is typically richer, sweeter, heavier and higher in alcohol content than unfortified wines. This is caused by the addition of distilled grape spirits that fortify the wine, but also halt fermentation before all the sugar is converted to alcohol, and results in a wine that is usually 19% to 20% alcohol. There are whites and reds, and are commonly served after meals as a dessert drink, often with cheese, nuts, and/or chocolate.
Liquers: Kahlua and Amaretto are arguably the best known, but there are shelves and shelves of styles and flavors to begin an experimentation journey.
Winter boredom, be gone!