We’ve swapped thongs for Ugg boots, bikinis for beanies and the budgie smugglers for… well, common decency. But it’s not only your wardrobe that deserves a winter makeover. Your drinks cabinet or bar cart can also benefit from some seasonal swaps as the mercury begins to fall.
So sayonara spritzers, move over margaritas and goodbye G&Ts. When it’s cold outside, your winter drinks menu calls for dark spirits and liqueurs featuring words like ‘smooth, ‘mellow, ‘rich’ and ‘toffee’. Because what better way to warm up than with a classic cocktail or nightcap that has depth and body? Here are our top picks for the dark spirits you need to add to your repertoire this winter.
No self-respecting winter drinks cabinet is complete without whisky (or whiskey with an ‘e’, depending on the style and location of distilling). Whichever way they’re spelt, Australian whiskies are coming into their own and taking on the traditional brands. Try them in a hot toddy: mix hot water, honey, lemon juice and a generous slug of single malt for a soothing remedy to all kinds of winter ailments – from coughs and sniffles to coming dead last in the footy-tipping competition.
Whisky’s not just for drinking – add a splash to your cake mix or whip up a whisky sauce to drizzle over pudding for dessert. Simply heat butter, cream, brown sugar and a generous dram to create a rich, butterscotch-style sauce that makes it worth changing into comfortable pants.
If you prefer your whisky neat, a premium purchase is your pick. Try the lingering warmth of 23rd Street Australian Single Malt Whisky, which has hints of toffee, vanilla, butterscotch and oak and is made with barley from South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. Or enjoy Lark Classic Cask Single Malt Australian Whisky from Tasmania’s Coal Valley, which is designed to sniff (I detect toffee apple), swirl (hmm, citrus?), sip (fruity malt and plum pudding) and savour (ahh, smooth, mellow oak). All while wearing your 1940s smoking jacket and slippers, of course.
Pirates and winter sports lovers have long sworn by the soothing qualities of rum, so after a day spent spectating from wind-swept sidelines (or the crow’s nest), warm up at home with a hot rum punch. Simmer orange slices and a cinnamon stick in apple cider, then ‘spike’ it with one of sugarcane’s best by-products.
Or transport your tastebuds to the tropics with a classic Jamaican coffee (basically Irish coffee with a twist). Stir dark rum and brown sugar into a long espresso to taste, then top with softly whipped cream (and a coffee bean if you’re fancy). The toasted hazelnut and almond flavours of Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Black River Casks Jamaica Rum will level up your caffeine hit.
White wines may have summer all wrapped up, but fortified reds come to the fore in winter. Welcome winter and hold a winter solstice dinner party so you can impress guests with an elegant aperitif of Dolin Vermouth Rouge. This classic French red vermouth contains more than 50 alpine herbs and spices, ranging from prunes and walnuts to Szechuan pepper, but is not excessively sweet.
Winter is also citrus season, so lean into cocktails that highlight these flavours. Crafted in the Adelaide Hills using native botanicals, Økar Bitter Amaro is a bitter Italian-style spirit similar to Aperol and Campari that pairs well with citrus notes. Enjoy straight over rocks with a citrus-rind twist, or combine with vermouth, gin and dried citrus slices for a Negroni with an antipodean twist.
One of the best things about liqueurs is they can be served at room temperature and generally have all the flavourings and sweetness you need. You can easily make do with just a glass and a few (optional) ice cubes; there’s no need for pre-chilling, multiple ingredients or fancy garnishes (we’re looking at you margarita salt rim).
All you need to do is grab a cosy rug, pop on your favourite movie and enjoy all the warm and fuzzy feels from this tasty trio:
Grand Marnier – you can’t go past this ubiquitous blend of fine French cognac and wild orange that’s best gently swirled in a snifter (a bowl-shaped glass that’s wider at the bottom than the top) so you can appreciate the aromas as well as the taste.
Baileys Australian River Mint & Chocolate Liqueur – enjoy an after-dinner mint and a digestif all in one glass with a divinely creamy tipple that one online reviewer describes as a ‘party in your mouth’.
Products featured are available from 28/06/23 to 1/08/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.