11 Warming Drinks to Make This Fall

Café Brûlot
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

As the weather cools down, we're finally looking to trade ice-filled cocktail shakers and frosted martini glasses for piping hot mugs of comfort. Join us in taking the edge off of the shorter days and longer nights with a booze-forward toddy, kickstarting a slow afternoon with a matcha latte, or debating whether or not hot chocolate can possibly be improved (hint: it can, with a little Jack Daniel's). These warm drinks are our absolute favorite for the autumn days ahead.

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Oaxacan Coffee

Oaxacan Coffee
Victor Protasio

With a float of whipped cream and just enough sweetness to temper the bitter coffee and herbal notes in the mezcal, this spiked coffee cocktail is well-balanced and fortifying. To make piloncillo syrup, simmer 1 (8-ounce) cone of piloncillo in 1 cup water in a small saucepan until dissolved, about 10 minutes.

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Apple Brandy Hot Toddy

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies
Rob Howard

A hot toddy is basically a shot or two of any potent spirit added to a cup of hot water. At Paley's Place in Portland, Oregon, bartender Suzanne Bozarth puts a French spin on this warming drink with a slug of apple brandy, such as Calvados.

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Gin Toasty Cocktail

Gin Toasty
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

All it takes is a bit of hot water to give this warm alcoholic drink— a riff on a gin and tonic — a hot toddy–like edge: When heated, the botanicals in gin act like mulled spices. Using tonic syrup instead of tonic water is crucial to the drink; hot water does the same trick that effervescent bubbles do to ferry the aromatics in the gin and the syrup right up to your nose. The result is an ingeniously simple warm cocktail, perfect for a snowy winter day.

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Double-Chocolate Hot Chocolate

Double-Chocolate Hot Chocolate
© Ditte Isager

Thanks to a generous amount of heavy cream and whole milk, this hot chocolate is just as delicious without the kick from Jack Daniel's. Don't skip the marshmelows!

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Walker's Mulled Wine

Walker's Mulled Wine
Greg DuPree

Over-boiled mulled wines, made with headache-inducing quantities of sugar, have long given this holiday classic a dire reputation. This version, from Walkers Maine restaurant in Cape Neddick, Maine, is gently infused with nutmeg, vanilla, and star anise, then lightly sweetened with honey and maple syrup. The result is a concoction you'll want to sip all winter long.

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Frenched Hot Chocolate

Frenched Hot Chocolate
© David Malosh

"Chartreuse and chocolate is among the world's most underrated combinations," says Bobby Heugel, co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston. He melds the two ingredients in this boozy, rich hot chocolate.

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Hot Buttered Spiked Cider

Hot Buttered Spiced Spiked Cider
Photo by Jen Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

This spiked cider recipe is warming, sweet, and has just the right amount of spiced gold rum. Pumpkin pie spice offers an easy way to add autumnal flavor, while butter adds richness and makes the drink velvety. The cider is perfect for fall and winter, especially if you're entertaining outdoors and dealing with chilly weather.

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Café Cubano

Café Cubano
© Lucy Schaeffer

No Cuban meal is complete without a café cubano (Cuban coffee). A well-made café cubano has a thick layer of sweet crema floating over strong espresso. To get the crema right, whisk about 1 tablespoon of the espresso with sugar until it turns foamy, then pour the pot of espresso over it. Lourdes Castro says you can't overbeat a crema, so stir it energetically.

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Matcha Latte

Matcha Latte
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox

A steaming hot matcha latte is a delicious drink that is easy to make at home. TV host, cookbook author, and blogger Molly Yeh shares her easy recipe that calls for matcha powder, milk, and honey for sweetness. A fine powder made of ground green tea leaves, matcha contributes an earthy, somewhat bitter flavor as well as bright green color. Making your own matcha latte not only saves you money but also allows you to control the level of sweetness. It's important to first sift and then whisk the matcha until there are no lumps; traditionally, a bamboo whisk is used, but a regular metal whisk will work just fine. To get a frothy finish, whip in the milk with a milk frother.

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Inverno Arancione

Inverno Arancione
Photo by Victor Protasio / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

"Spiced mulled cocktails are what I crave when I want to relax in the colder months," says Amy Brandwein of Centrolina in Washington, D.C. "Red wine is usually the base, but Centrolina Wine Director Alissa Diaz developed this cocktail using Pinot Grigio to focus on citrus and ginger — it almost plays off the flavors of a classic panettone, which is a winter specialty in Italian culture."

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Shortcut Café Brûlot

Café Brûlot
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Scholar and cookbook author Jessica B. Harris has been a part-time resident of New Orleans for many years. She shared her shortcut recipe for a Cafe Brûlot, which she likes to serve after a meal at her summer home on Martha's Vineyard. Café Brûlot is a signature cocktail of New Orleans, where it's prepared tableside at restaurants in an elaborate process that culminates in pouring flaming, citrus- and cinnamon-infused brandy down a clove-studded orange peel into a special silver-lined punch bowl, then dousing the flames with chicory-flavored coffee. Instead, Harris eschews the fireworks and special equipment, opting for a greatly streamlined drink that's much easier to prepare at home. In her version, warmed orange liqueur and cognac, fresh lemon and lime juice, cinnamon, cloves, and hot coffee come together in a simple but satisfying warming, boozy after-dinner cocktail that can be quickly prepared, served, and savored. You can serve the drink directly from the heatproof bowl it's prepared in, or do as Harris does: "I mix it all and pour it out of an antique Victorian tea pot." Note this is a very potent drink. "The booze doesn't burn off," Harris cautions. "Serve in demitasse cups. No seconds."

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