With weather like this, it’s time to get creative with your cocktails

Is it the winter of our discontent? Or the springtime of our loving? That all depends on whether you subscribe to William Shakespeare’s take, or Led Zeppelin’s. Whichever way you go you won’t be disappointed here in Northern California. Confused perhaps, but not disappointed. Just this last week, temperatures ranged from a balmy 80 degrees to a freezing (literally) 31 degrees. Is it Winter or is it Spring? Sprinter?  

What sort of lubricous libation is the correct tonic for just such a situation? Or more succinctly, how is a home bartender supposed to cope with weather like this? The solution (pun intended) might be to utilize the fabulous array of winter fruit available (blood oranges, Meyer lemons, apples, etc.) and make classic cold drinks hot, and classic hot drinks cold. We suspect that you will be pleasantly surprised with the results, if not slightly confused. And with alcoholic beverages, both of those can be a good thing. So, take a quick peek out your window, and either squeeze that lemon or let your hell broth boil, but rest assured, either way you’ll be just fine.

To be of assistance, we’ve taken the liberty of curating an assortment of classic cocktails, all reinterpreted in preparation for your enjoyment, and of course, all localized for your consumption.   

Old Fashioned Hottie

2 ounces Bender’s small batch whiskey (a blend of corn and rye whiskey)

2 dashes Monarch cherry vanilla bitters

½ ounce amber honey

2 ounces hot water

1 blood orange wheel

3 cloves

Combine first four ingredients in a preheated heat tempered serving glass with a handle and stir. Push the small side of the cloves into blood orange wheel in a decorative triangle, float on top.

Goodbye big ice cubes and welcome hot water. Either way the old fashioned’s classic combination of bitters, whiskey, sugar, citrus and cherry is a winner!

Sparkling Cider Fizz

1 ounce Redwood Empire “Lost Monarch” blend of straight whiskeys

1 ounce fresh squeezed blood orange juice

½ ounce simple syrup

½ ounce aquafaba

1 ounce Golden State “Mighty Dry” hard apple cider

Powdered cinnamon

Combine whiskey, blood orange juice, simple syrup and aquafaba in a shaker with ice. Shake until foamy, then strain over fresh ice in a serving glass and top with apple cider. Dust foamy head lightly with cinnamon.

The new “Roaring Twenties” needs a zeitgeist leader. Why not Hard Cold Cider? It’s local, it’s got a kick, and it’s delicious! So, put away those frumpy hot toddy glasses you got from your grandparents, there’s a new cider in town, and it’s served cold.

Coconut Coffee Martini

1 ounce Sonoma Brothers vodka

1 ounce Griffo “Cold Brew” coffee liqueur

½ ounce aquafaba

1 ounce “light” coconut milk (full fat coconut milk separates and is quite thick, light coconut milk has a consistency midway between cow’s milk and half and half)

1 tablespoon coarse ground espresso

1 tablespoon coarse turbinado sugar

1 teaspoon cacao powder

To rim glass, first combine espresso, sugar, and cacao, mixing well. Place in a pile on a plate. Wet a spot the size of your thumb on the rim of a martini glass with a halved citrus fruit. Then dip glass into sugar/coffee/cacao mixture creating one small patch.

Combine all four liquids in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold and foamy, then strain into the chilled cocktail glass rimmed with the chocolate coffee sugar mixture.

It says “cold” right there on the bottle! Griffo’s limited edition coffee liqueur might just make the best “espresso” martini around. The coconut milk (an idea borrowed from Vietnamese coffees) smooths out the bitter just right, and it’s also dairy free. This martini is not vodka free, and for that we can be expressly thankful. 

Hot Smoked Apple Cider Margarita

1 ounce Santo Puro “Mezquila”

½ ounce Amara Sicilian blood orange liqueur (or Grand Marnier)

2 ounces warmed apple cider

1 blood orange wheel, slit halfway

1 star anise

Cinnamon sugar (1 tablespoon turbinado sugar combined with 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon)

Rim a heat tempered serving glass with cinnamon sugar (see rimming above but extend all the way around the glass this time). Add mezquila, Amara and boiling cider to glass and stir gently. Garnish with star anise, placing slit orange wheel on rim.

At first combining apple cider and an agave spirit might seem odd. But there are plenty of apple mezcals made in Mexico. Mezcal is a steep smoky flavor hill to climb, so Sammy Hagar’s mezquila (a blend of blue agave and espardin agave, the prime movers in tequila and mezcal, respectively) brings down mezcal’s telltale smoke just a notch, making it perfect for a sweetly sour smoked apple drink. De nada, no hay de qué.