Winter is coming (apparently). But we’re not quite ready to hang up our favorite summer drinks. Nor should we have to. The bright flavors of June’s, July’s and August’s best drinks can easily be modified for other times of year—as can any cocktail—with some basic tweaks and improvisation.
One key is to take stock of what’s not in season and what is, and figure out how to swap those ingredients into the drink you want to modify. For example, in the classic rum cooler, the Mojito, the flavor of mint is essential, but it doesn’t have to come by way of muddling. Enter Fernet Branca’s cooling cousin, Branca Mentha, which, when combined with a one-two jab of funky, rich black strap rum and caramelly Angostura rum (rather than traditional light rum), shape-shifts into a rich and bitter Stygian Mojito.
Another hot tip: When going about adjusting any cocktail for a new season, the most forgiving to work with are long, tall and bubbly drinks. In our cold-weather arsenal is a year-round PUNCH favorite, the spritz. (The #spritzlife, as it were, knows no season.) Playing within the template of bitter, bubbly and low-alcohol, our go-to Sanguinello Spritz features blood orange juice, vanilla syrup and Campari’s more rounded cousin, Cappelletti, all tied together with a spice-heavy Barolo Chinato to give it that come-hither holiday flavor.
When it comes to drinks that tend to have a more rigid blueprint, like the Daiquiri, syrups infused with seasonal herbs, spices and fruits can dramatically change the flavor profile of a cocktail. The spiced simple syrup in our Corduroy Daiquiri is made with a seasonal powerhouse of allspice, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. Pair it with the funky, banana-esque flavor of Appleton Jamaican rum, plus lime and grapefruit juice, and you’ll question why the Daiquiri wasn’t always considered a winter cocktail.
The Margarita, too, is practically begging to be winterized. Swap in blood orange juice (really, just add it to anything you damn well please this season), pump up the volume with mezcal in place of tequila and add a dose of rosemary-infused Cointreau, et voila—the Blood Orange Margarita, dressed in a winter coat.
Finally, there’s that behemoth of summer drinking, the Piña Colada. How do you take a drink whole essence relies on both a beach and a blender and make it the sort of thing you’d sip near the fire? Turn it into a milk punch, the crack of batchable cocktails. Our Piña Colada Milk Punch maintains the essence of the drink’s tropical spirit with coconut water, pineapple juice and rum (and velvet falernum for extra credit), but it’s transformed by adding scalded milk, clarifying the mixture with a cheese cloth and then ladling it, punch-style, on the rocks. And while it may sound complicated, it’s actually a whole lot easier to batch and serve than your typical PC.
Some might even find these seasonal twists to be improvements on the classics; regardless, they make a strong case for not relegating any drink to one time of year. The paper umbrellas, though—that’s your call.