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winter cocktail ingredients

How to Stock Your Liquor Cabinet for Winter Cocktails

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
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon sticks and Cloves
  • White and brown sugar
  • Butter


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.