This was the year of the to-go cocktail, and there is no need to end now. If you equip your thermos with a sip of good stuff, we will survive this socially distant winter. But before you spend the lukewarm coffee currently in your thermos for something stronger, promise us two things:
First, you either drink these at home or have a designated driver.
Second, you know that alcohol, even if it feels like that, is not a warming strategy. (Alcohol is a vasodilator and does the opposite of warming. Drunkenness has been an accomplice in many hypothermic deaths.) Pool your alcohol consumption and keep it reasonable so you don’t make bad decisions in the cold.
If you haven’t read our guide to getting the most out of your thermos, start here. Then choose your potion from the recipes below and charge the pup.
If you’re in charge of cocktails for a crew, pack a 32-ounce thermos with this flavored cider with bourbon spikes. This is the creation of Darlin Kulla, a mixologist at Succotash in Washington, DC. It’s a little sweeter, but the warm spices and bourbon will keep your throat stinging. This makes more flavored syrup than you need, but don’t worry, you’ll find other ways to use it. Kulla suggests swirling a spoon in your morning coffee.
- 6 ounce bourbon of choice (Kulla recommends Redemption Bourbon.)
- 3 ounces flavored syrup
- 22 ounces of local unfiltered cider
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 4 whole star anise
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of sugar
Toast all the spices in a two-quarter saucepan on the stove. Shake them until you smell the spices, but don’t let them go from being roasted to being burned. When the spices are fragrant, add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes Protocol. Finally, add the sugar and stir until it is completely dissolved. Strain and refrigerate anything you don’t put in your thermos.
To make the cocktail, stir the seasoned syrup and apple cider together. You can heat your mixture on the stove or in the microwave (in 30 second increments) until the perfect temperature is reached. Finally add the bourbon and pour everything into the thermos.
High West’s Quit’n Time
(Photo: Courtesy of the High West Distillery)
At the High West Distillery in Park City, Utah, time ending is almost always the time to get on your nerves and head for the Wasatch Mountains. In other words, we trust their judgment on what to put in a thermos. Even if your suggestion is hot lemonade. Yes, lemonade is usually a kid-friendly summer drink, but listen to us: Spiced lemonade is a whole other animal. Add a dash of rye and lemonade will grow very grown up quickly. This recipe makes a large amount – three liters of the flavored lemonade only, which you can then divide into individual cocktails. It should be kept in the refrigerator for about two weeks. We think you will go through it first.
- 5 cups of sugar
- 4 cups of water
- 2 lemons, cut in half
- 18 to 20 cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 whole nutmeg
- Approx. 5 cups of lemon juice, fresh or bottled
Put all ingredients except the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain. Measure the volume of the seasoned syrup mixture. For each cup of syrup, add one cup of lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir to combine.
Make the cocktail
You can scale this recipe in any amount by using a 3: 2 ratio for the flavored lemonade and the rye. Heat your thermos, then add three ounces of warm lemonade and two ounces of rye. Throw in a cinnamon stick or a fresh lemon wedge for good measure.
Believe it or not, Texas gets cold enough to warrant hot drinks. When the mercury drops, Frank Vallas, beverage manager at Tacos and Tequila in Dallas, brews this blend of hot tea and tequila. His favorite tea is chai, but you can drown in Earl Gray if that’s more your style. If you can’t get Blue Nectar’s Reposado Extra Blend Tequila, look for something with some age and ideally some vanilla notes, says Vallas. This recipe makes a 12 ounce cocktail.
- 8 ounce hot stash chai spice black tea. (You can also use Stash’s Cinnamon Vanilla Tea or Earl Gray. Use two sachets of Earl Gray for a strong cup; a single teabag is sufficient for the others.)
- 1 1/4 ounces Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend Tequila
- 3/4 ounce Licor 43
- 3 cubes of demerara sugar (or 3 teaspoons of sugar)
- 2 strokes of Angostura orange bitters
- 3/4 ounce half and half, almond pot or almond milk
- A pinch of salt
Pour eight ounces of hot water into a preheated thermos. Add a chai tea bag, a pinch of salt, and three cubes of demerara sugar. Cover and let steep for five to eight minutes. Then add the bitter substances, the cream, the Blue Nectar Tequila and the Licor 43. Stir gently before putting the lid on.
Mulled wine to take away
(Photo: Courtesy Curio)
What’s a summary of a thermos cocktail recipe without a good mulled wine? This restaurant was kindly provided by the Curio restaurant in San Francisco, where it is made in large quantities to keep guests warm inside-out in the open air. This makes six servings (or four if you’re really honest with yourself).
- 3/4 cup of water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 cloves
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 4 to 6 ounces gin or whiskey (optional)
Combine water, sugar and spices in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then bring it to a boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Add the zest and juice of the orange and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes or until thick and syrupy.
Strain syrup and remove solids. Put the syrup back in the saucepan and combine with the bottle of wine. Heat gently until it boils. You can fill your thermos with it or gild the lily further by pouring a 4 to 6 ounce gin or whiskey over it.
Support outside of online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. For the past several years, Outside Online has reported groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you updated on the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous reporting helps fuel important debates about wellness, travel and adventure, and provides readers with an accessible gateway to new passions in the outdoors. Time outside is important – and we can help you get the most of it. Providing a financial contribution to Outside Online takes just minutes, and it ensures we can continue to deliver the breakthrough, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you will support us. Many Thanks.
Main photo: AleksandarNakic / iStock