Toast To the Cold: How to Stock a Bar for the Best Winter Cocktails

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By Kita R

When it comes to the perfect winter cocktails, there is no shortage of lovely libations to sip on chilly nights. Here are tips from award-winning cocktail makers for what to have on hand for the best delicious winter cocktails. 

Hands garnishing cocktail with rosemary.
Garnishing with rosemary. Image Source: Depositphoto

Liquor to stock for winter cocktails 

When stocking a bar for winter, you want to ensure that you have the basics, the spirits most commonly used to warm us up on chilly nights. Essential winter cocktails include hot toddies, eggnog, Irish Coffee, and smoked gin and tonics. 

Our favorite spirits for making cocktails are 

  • Brandy
  • Whiskey 
  • Rum 
  • Gin 

When choosing spirits for winter,  look for richer spiced, bourbon barrel-aged, and fragrant notes to be the base of warming winter cocktail recipes. 

Decanter of liquor.
Decanter Image Source: Depositphoto

The Mixers: 

Stocking a bar for winter is as simple as building out some commonly used mixers like: 

  • Cranberry juice
  • Apple cider, 
  • Tonic or club soda. 

Each can sweeten or cut a cocktail, add acidity, and are vital ingredients to building flavorful, balanced drinks. In addition, we enjoy Fever Tree tonic and club sodas for mixing cocktails. Their bubbles hold up and create an enjoyable sipping experience.

Winter cocktails with cinnamon sticks.
Winter cocktails with cinnamon sticks. Image Source: Depositphoto

Simple Syrups 

Simple syrups offer an effortless way to sweeten a drink. But even more so, they are a straightforward trick to infusing flavors into cocktails.

A simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water. Once the sugar has dissolved in the water,  you can add fragrant ingredients as the syrup rests, creating subtle flavor infusions for future cocktails. In winter, we particularly love simple Pine syrup and simple rosemary syrup for winter Gin and tonics and smoked gin martinis. 

Things You Can Add To Simple Syrup to Flavor Your Winter Cocktails: 

  • Vanilla bean
  • Herbs like thyme or rosemary
  • Peppercorns 
  • Chili peppers
  • Cinnamon sticks

 Besides a syrup made of sugar and water, maple syrup is another great winter cocktail sweetener. 

Overhead shot of aromatics and fruits in red wine.
Aromatics in cocktails Image Source: Depositphoto

Bitters

Bitters are the secret that elevates a cocktail from good to extraordinary. They stimulate our tastebuds, accentuating the drinking experience. We commonly think of Angostura bitters in cocktails, like the Old Fashioned, but changing something as subtle as what bitters you’re using can pack a subtle but powerful punch. 

For Winter, We Love Using 

  • Black walnut bitters
  • Cardamom bitters
  • Orange bitters 
  • Bonfire bitters 

When adding bitters to a cocktail, a simple dash of one to three bitters is all that’s needed.

Expressing citrus on glass.
Twisting orange over glass. Image Source: Depositphoto

Once your spirits, mixers, simple syrups, and bitters are stocked, you are ready to craft unique winter cocktails like any expert mixologist. 

Make sure your bar also has a stock of cocktail glasses, as the shape of the glass is also a component of the cocktail experience itself. One set of martini glasses, rocks glasses, and glass drinking mugs with sturdy handles are all you need for a perfect winter bar. 

Tools Every Bar Setup Needs: 

  • Shaker
  • Strainer 
  • Jigger
  • Muddler 
  • Stirrer

These don’t need to be extravagant or fancy and can often be found as kits or sets to get your bar started all at once. 

Seasonal ingredients for cocktails on table.
Winter ingredients Image Source: Depositphoto

And finally, every cocktail is complete with the perfect garnish. So add the festive finishing touches to your winter cocktails with garnishes like cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange peel, cranberries, and fresh rosemary. 

By keeping these ingredients and tools on hand, you’ll be able to make a variety of delicious winter cocktails and impress your guests. So whether you’re mixing a smoked old-fashioned, white wine spritzer, or refreshing cranberry gin martini, once your bar is stocked, you can enjoy cozy winter cocktails without leaving the comfort of your home. 

As always, cocktails are intended for responsible consumers over the legal drinking age of 21. 

Kita Roberts is a world-traveled photographer and content creator writing for GirlCarnivore.com, PasstheSushi.com, and RomanticWeekendGetaways.com 

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