Winter is the best time (and the best excuse) to experiment with fun new obscure cocktails. It’s cold, it’s dark, and odds are you’re going to be wrapped up in a blanket contemplating something good to sip on. While there are plenty of classic cocktails to choose from, there is something exciting about trying something new: experimenting with mixers, liquors, portion sizes, and garnishes is all part of the fun.
If you’re ready to spice up your cold nights with a few cocktails out of the ordinary, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our list of fun, obscure cocktails to bring some pizazz to the drab days of winter.
The sidecar is an old classic with an origin story dating back to WW1, but it isn’t seen on your standard drink menu much anymore. This cocktail will have you feeling fancy all hours of the day. With the simple recipe of cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice, you can’t go wrong. It is a perfect blend of sweet and sour that will have you feeling refreshed and relaxed.
This drink should be on every brunch menu! A simplistic drink that packs a punch? Sign me up. This classic drink consists of gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne (move over mimosa). This cocktail is a must for any occasion that calls for bubbly.
If you’re a mule fan, this cocktail is a must. A Kansas City staple, this tasty beverage deserves to be in glasses all around the nation. All you need for this amazing refreshment is rye whiskey, ginger beer, bitters, and lemon juice. Bold with a light kick of spice, this will fight off any winter chills with ease.
Now for the Most Obscure
An obscure cocktail list wouldn’t be complete without some, well, obscure cocktails. While these last few suggestions may seem a bit out of the ordinary, that’s the fun of this whole process. If you’re really ready for some experimenting, these final two beverages are exactly what you need.
Beer, Bourbon, and Barbeque
You read that correctly: BBQ. The great thing about mixers is that they can be more than just soda, tonic, and fruit juices. For this exceptionally obscure beverage, you need Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, Makers Mark, Evan Williams Honey liqueur, hefeweizen beer, and a bit of orange juice. Nothing like a little bit of everything all in one glass.
You know that little rush you can get from your first sip of a cocktail? This drink guarantees to give you that feeling every time. With a simple mixture of Wild Turkey bourbon, lime juice, simple syrup, and tabasco, you’ll completely forget that it’s winter outside.
Ditch the Winter Blues With an Obscure Cocktail
Winter can feel like it will never end, but these cocktails will hopefully ease the day-to-day monotony. Choose your favorite beverage and get ready to hunker down. Payless Liquors has a huge selection of everything you’ll need to jump into the obscure. Check out our website and use our 5-star rating guide to help you create your next masterpiece. Cheers!
If you’re a wine lover, one of the most exciting parts of a dinner out can be trying a new dish and sampling a few ideal wines chosen specifically for the way they enhance the flavor of the food. Unfortunately, when you’re cooking at home, you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated sommelier to help you choose the right wine for the food you’ve made. However, these basic guidelines will help you achieve similar results on your own.
Step 1—Find the Basic Taste Components
While there are many different taste components found in food and wine, you only need to focus on the six most basic when it comes to pairing the two:
- Food contains components of acid, fat, salt, sweet, bitter, and spice. Identify the tastes in your dish and simplify it to the two or three most dominant. For example, pasta with sausage and red sauce has strong fat, acid, and spice components, while a green salad with shrimp has acid, bitter, and fat components.
- Wine contains just three components of acid, sweet, and bitter. Red wines tend to be more bitter, while whites have more acidity. Meanwhile, sweet wines have dominating sweet components.
In addition, you’ll need to consider intensity. Is your food light in intensity, very rich in fats, or high in acids? Are the wines you have on hand light in body, very acidic, or high in tannins and bitterness?
Step 2—Determine if You Want a Complementary or Congruent Pairing
Complementary pairings consider your food’s different flavor components and play against them with contrasting components of the wine. Congruent pairings play up the flavor components of your food with similar components in the wine. Both balance the food and wine on the palate, just in different ways.
For example, a high-acid white wine is a complementary pairing for a rich, cheesy dish like a grilled cheese sandwich or pasta with hollandaise or alfredo because the acid balances out the salt and fat. A congruent pairing for the same dish would be a much creamier white wine like a chardonnay. In general, red wines are more likely to create congruent pairings, while whites create complementary pairings.
Step 3—Use Our Cheat Sheet
If you have your doubts about the complementary and congruent flavors among your dishes and the wines you have to choose from, this quick cheat sheet can help you decide. In general:
- Choose a wine that is sweeter and more acidic than the food
- Choose a wine with a similar flavor intensity as your food
- Pair wines based on the flavors of the sauce versus the meat or pasta
- Absent a sauce, try these general meat/wine rules:
- Red wines pair well with boldly seasoned red meats
- White wines pair well with fish or chicken
The best part about wine pairing, however, is the freedom you have to break the rules. If your favorite wine is a bitter, high-tannin Cabernet Sauvignon, pairing it with a delicate seafood dish is completely acceptable so long as you enjoy it. For more information about the many varietals of wine, you can find at Payless Liquors, ask one of our trained staff. Alternatively, reserve your favorite bottle today via our online order form.
The “world of whiskey” isn’t just a way to describe the sheer diversity of this spirit—it’s a nod to the fact that whiskey is produced in different ways around the world and even across the United States. However, the secret to enjoying a glass of whiskey is usually as simple as understanding exactly what you like. We’ll help you get a solid start by learning more about what makes them all unique in the first place.
These major types make up the vast majority of the whiskey you’ll find on the shelves of your local liquor store:
● Bourbon. This whiskey is one of the most popular spirits in the US, and for a good reason. However, there are rules surrounding bourbon whiskey—to be considered a bourbon, a whiskey must be produced in America from at least 51% corn mash, aged in a new oak barrel, and bottled at least 80 proof. Bourbons are usually smoother and sweeter than other types of whiskey and can feature vanilla or caramel notes.
● Tennessee whiskey. Tennessee whiskeys like Jack Daniels and other big names in whiskey often qualify as bourbons under the strict whiskey laws. However, Tennessee whiskey must also undergo charcoal filtration according to the “Lincoln County Process” before cask aging occurs.
● American whiskey. If a whiskey produced in America doesn’t qualify as a bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, it is likely produced using a blend of the two processes—or even a blend of multiple whiskey types. As a result, the characteristics of American whiskeys can vary wildly from brand to brand.
● Irish whiskey. Smooth in character, Irish whiskey is ideal for mixing, sipping on the rocks, or even neat. The process involves a mash of unmalted barley, triple distillation using only mash, water, and caramel coloring, and aging in wooden casks for at least three years.
● Scotch whisky. Scotch whisky (note the missing E) is usually referred to simply as “Scotch” and must undergo a very specific process dictated by Scottish law. It must be made in Scotland with malted barley and other grains, dried with peat moss smoke, and distilled in a copper still. Scotch is aged in oak barrels for at least three years and must be accompanied by an age statement so the drinker can characterize the whisky. Most Scotch is sipped on the rocks or neat.
● Canadian whisky. Similar to Scotch, Canadian whisky must age in barrels for at least three years. Due to a relatively high corn or rye content, however, many Canadian whiskies taste similar to American whiskeys and bourbons; others utilize wheat or barley. Most are suitable for sipping or mixing,
● Japanese whisky. One of the newest participants in the world of whiskey, Japan has begun crafting some excellent spirits in recent years. The country holds exceptionally high standards for all the whiskies it creates and has modeled its processes on the Scottish method of producing Scotch whisky. Not quite as complex as Scotch, but not as sweet as bourbon, Japanese whisky is an ideal whisky to sip or mix in cocktails of your choice.
Whether you prefer a sweeter bourbon produced right here in America or a nuanced Scotch crafted painstakingly over peat smoke, you’ll find quality examples of all the above varieties at your nearest Payless Liquors. Stop by and ask for a recommendation from one of our friendly sales staff, or reserve a bottle of the whiskey that’s right for you.
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Depending on who you ask, the “right way” to drink coffee varies by country, by culture, and can even be wildly different within each household. Whether your preferences are light or dark roast, espresso or machine drip, black or with as much creamer as possible, we’d like to present our take on the “right way” to drink coffee—with a healthy dose of spirits in coffee cocktails.
Best Coffee Cocktails
The coffee cocktail offers an ideal start to any evening out, with the perfect blend of caffeine and booze. Similarly, the right coffee cocktail can provide additional warmth to a weekend morning in, with just the right kick to start your day. This list of our favorites provides a variety of ways to imbibe in your preferred coffee and some choice spirits all at once:
- The Perfect Irish Coffee. While many people pour a shot of whiskey into a steaming hot mug of coffee and call it an Irish, you’ll need a couple of extra steps to make this drink in the traditional fashion. You’ll need:
- 1 cup prepared coffee
- 2 oz. Jameson Irish whiskey
- 2 tsp. light brown sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Chocolate shavings
Start by pouring hot water into two mugs to warm them, and let them sit for two minutes. Pour out the water and add a teaspoon of brown sugar to each. Pour hot coffee over the sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Add whiskey and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Pour-over coffee and top with chocolate shavings.
- Siciliano. Forget coffee-flavored liqueur and cream in a stemmed glass—this “coffee martini” comes with far fewer frills and even more boozy flavor. You’ll need:
- 2 oz. sweet vermouth
- 1½ oz. Amaro (Campari or Averna work quite well)
- 1½ oz. cold-brewed espresso (strong)
- 1 oz. simple syrup
- Club soda
- Orange wheel for garnish
Pour Amaro, vermouth, cold-brew, and simple syrup into a tall glass. Add ice until filled, and top with club soda. Strain into a stemmed martini glass or enjoy over ice.
- Coffee Old-Fashioned. This twist on an American staple gives you the warmth of whiskey and the buzz of espresso, all in one glass. You’ll need:
- 2 oz. espresso (room temperature or cooler)
- 1 oz. bourbon
- ¼ oz. simple syrup
- Dash Peychaud’s bitters
- Lemon peel
Add espresso, bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and pour over ice in a rocks glass. Twist lemon peel over the drink, rub around the glass rim, and use as a garnish.
Other Coffee Cocktails
You may have noticed a lack of some of the most popular coffee-flavored drinks on our list, including the White Russian and the Colorado Bulldog. Kahlua—the coffee element in both of these drinks—is made by combining Arabica coffee with sugar, vanilla, and rum. The caffeine contents are negligible compared to using coffee itself (5 mg versus up to 200 in a cup of coffee). Therefore, we’ve kept our list to our favorite buzzy and boozy cocktails that include full-fledged coffee.
Need help finding some of the items mentioned in these recipes? Simply place an advance order online, or call ahead to inquire about our stock at your nearest Payless Liquor location. We look forward to serving you.
When it’s bone-chillingly cold outside, there’s nothing better than curling up beside the fire with the perfect soul-warming drink. For some, a simple mug of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate will do. However, for the cocktail aficionado, the ideal winter drink likely includes a generous helping of spirits and some cold weather-friendly mixers.
Since the best place to enjoy a few winter cocktails is in the warm and cozy comfort of your own home, you’ll need to put some thought into stocking your home bar for cold-weather drinks. However, unless you aim to build a fully stocked bar that rivals your favorite cocktail hub, there’s no reason to rush out and buy dozens of liqueurs, cordials, and mixers. Make a brief list of your favorite winter cocktails, browse our suggestions below, and use our checklist to build your winter stock list, customized to your tastes.
Popular Winter Cocktails
When it’s cold outside, you want a cocktail that will warm you from the inside—whether that warmth is due to a cozy-hot mixer or the delightful heat of a stiff liquor is up to you. Depending on your tastes, multiple winter cocktails could fit the bill, but these are the most common:
- Spiced apple ciders, spiked with a generous helping of whiskey, bourbon, or cinnamon schnapps, and winter spices like cinnamon, anise, cloves, and more
- Mulled wines, infused with those same winter spices
- Adult hot chocolate, which can be spiked with whiskey or any wintery schnapps like peppermint or cinnamon
- Hot coffee drinks, including Irish coffee bolstered by whiskey, or even a simple Irish cream and coffee
- Hot buttered rum, featuring spiced rum topped with butter, sugar, and cinnamon
- Hot toddies, crafted from whiskey, honey, and lemon juice
- Old-fashioneds, featuring bourbon, Angostura bitters, orange peel, and sugar
- Whiskey sours, including your favorite bourbon, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a cherry
- Martinis, either gin or bourbon, with your choice of vermouth and a lemon peel or olive
What You’ll Need to Stock Your Bar
The best thing about winter cocktails is that the sheer diversity in taste we’ve listed above can be built on a base of just a few spirits, as well as a few ingredients you’re likely to find in your kitchen during the winter months. Use this checklist (ordered from most to least critical) to develop your personalized winter bar stocking shopping list:
- Whiskeys—you’ll find whiskey in a number of the above cocktails, and it proves a warming drink all on its own. Start with:
- Kentucky bourbon
- Irish whiskey
- Tennessee whiskey
- Gin—the piney aroma is perfect for the cold season and can be substituted for whiskey in sours and martinis
- Spiced rum
- Schnapps to add that flavorful kick to cocoas, coffees, and ciders. Consider:
- Cinnamon schnapps
- Peppermint schnapps
- Irish cream liqueur
- Red wine for mulling
- Angostura bitters
- Dry and sweet vermouth, for martinis and Manhattans
- Apple juice or cider
- Hot cocoa mix
- Lemons, Lemon juice, Oranges
- Cinnamon sticks and Cloves
- White and brown sugar
Of course, you may need additional or fewer items as your tastes dictate—there’s no point in stocking your home bar with bottles you’ll never use, and if you enjoy a nice Mai Tai in the dead of winter, we’re not here to tell you you’re wrong. However, the above list will give you a great start and allow you to prepare each of the most popular winter cocktails in the comfort of your home bar. For more recipes, bar stocking suggestions, and insight into what’s new at Payless Liquors, check out our blog and five-star rating guide.