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As the temperatures drop and the snow begins to pile up, nothing can be cozier than enjoying a warm winter cocktail in front of a blazing fireplace. Here are a few suggestions for some kicked-up coffees and a couple for apple cider lovers.

For the coffee drinks, it is best to make a good cup of coffee, and for that I suggest a dark roast brewed with a French press. Obviously a good coffee mug will work; but a better impression will come from a sturdy glass container such as an Irish coffee glass similar to the one pictured here.

Kicked-up Coffee Drinks:

Irish Winter –  Pour 4 – 5 oz. hot coffee into mug or glass; add 1 oz. Irish whiskey (I like Tullamore Dew, but an old stand-by like Jameson will do fine), 1 oz. Kahlua Coffee Liqueur. Top this with whipped cream and settle in before the fire.

Kentucky Winter –Jack Daniel's Honey  Here is a down-home, American version of the Irish concoction. Mix 4 – 5 oz. coffee with 1 oz. of Kentucky Bourbon (Wild Turkey would be my choice, but any Bourbon will suffice) and ½ oz. of a honey Bourbon. Top with whipped cream.

(Most Bourbon labels market a honey blend, such as Wild Turkey’s American Honey, Evan Williams’ Honey Reserve, or Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey – note: you might need to change the name of the drink to a Tennessee Winter, as Jack Daniel’s is not made in Kentucky. This is why Jack Daniel’s is not called Bourbon, but rather Tennessee Whiskey Jim Beam Honey– it goes through a special charcoal-filtering process before it is put into barrels.)

Mad Monk –  Mix approximately 2-3 oz. coffee and 2-3 oz. hot chocolate. Add 1 oz. Frangelico Liqueur and 1 oz. peppermint schnapps. Top with whipped cream.

Roman Rasta Coffee –  Approximately 6 oz. coffee. Add 1 oz. Sambuca, 1 oz. dark rum. Top with whipped cream.

Café Brasileiro –  (This Winter Warmer uses the Brazilian-style rum cachaca.) To approximately 2 ½ oz. of coffee, add 1 ½ oz. cachaca, ½ oz. dark chocolate liqueur (Godiva has a good one); ½ oz. simple syrup; and 2 oz. of vanilla heavy cream (see directions). Vanilla heavy cream: scrape the seeds from a vanilla pod into shaker, add 2 oz. heavy cream and shake vigorously – about 20 seconds. Slowly layer vanilla cream onto surface of drink.

Some Apple Cider Warmers

Hot Apple Cider Strudel –  1 oz. vodka, 4-5 oz. cider, ground cinnamon, powdered sugar, 1 apple, caramel apple dipping sauce.

Campari 2Prep: Fill shaker with ice, add vodka, cider, and one dash cinnamon. Shake and strain into microwave-safe container. Microwave until hot, but not boiling (about 30-40 seconds). – Rim a coffee mug or hot beverage glass with powdered sugar, transfer warm beverage to glass, garnish with second dash of cinnamon and an apple slice that has been coated with caramel dipping sauce.

Apple Cider Au Pear –  (This can be drunk cold or warmed for sitting in front of that fireplace.) 3 oz. brandy; ½ oz. pear brandy (can substitute pear vodka), 4-5 oz. cider, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, 1 apple.

Prep: Fill shaker with ice, add brandy, pear brandy/vodka and cider. Add 2 dashes cinnamon, 1 dash nutmeg and shake. Garnish with an apple slice.

Orchard Boulevardier (from the recipe of Maria del Mar Sacasa, Food Stylist) –  8 oz. cider, 4 oz. rye whiskey, 2 oz. Campari, 2 oz. sweet vermouth; garnish : 2 orange twists.

Prep: Simmer cider in medium sauce pan to warm, add rye, Campari and vermouth, and stir until warm. Pour into 2 heat-proof mugs or glasses and garnish with orange twists.

“The Perfect Cocktail Spot”

Mai TaisThe couple of times my wife Stephanie and I were in Hawaii, we loved Sunset from Don'senjoying a good Mai Tai. We had some great ones in another “perfect cocktail spot” – Don’s Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii. You will need to get there about an hour before sunset to get a seat along the ledge; but the sunset view will be well worth it. It’s an amazing scene with the waves crashing on the lava rocks as the set sets.

Comment on your pick for the “Perfect Cocktail Spot,” and we may include it in future cocktail stories on Travellady.

Photos by Stephanie Sylva