With its onslaught pummeling winds and salt-covered sidewalks, February might just be the cruelest month of the year. But it also marks a season when an abundance of bright, winter citrus lights a clear path through the doldrums. Paired with strong spirits and flourishes of spice and umami, the winter sour is the perfect kind of refuge.
Take, for example, the Hemingway In Europe, in which a generous dose of grapefruit syrup and lime juice lifts the malty finish of Batavia arrack in Punch Bowl Social‘s darker take on the Hemingway Daiquiri; a sprig of Mediterranean thyme completes the ode to the author’s best years.
In New York, Natasha David hits the high seas with her Brave Benbow, named after a 17th-century British admiral. A hefty play on the Gin Sour, it features both Navy Strength and Old Tom gin, plus Campari, housemade salted lime cordial and a Kaffir lime leaf.
For an ultra-bitter counterpart to the cold, there’s Kirk Estopinal’s unorthodox Angostura Sour, which takes the classic aromatic seasoner beyond the dash and makes it the base of the drink (with a whole 1 1/2 ounce dose). It’s then smoothed out with fluffy egg white, simple and lime. Dear Irving‘s Tom Richter, too, reaches for the unconventional in the Running of the Bulls: a combination of oft-overlooked genever and sloe gin (the latter, a spirit that “is just itching to start being used as a more common modifier,” Richter says) brightened by yellow Chartreuse, dry Curaçao and citrus.
Finally, delivering a cold-fighting triple-punch of savory, umami and spice is Meaghan Dorman’s Ol’ Pepper, an umami-forward mix of lemon, chipotle honey, Worcestershire and ancho chile over a biting rye base that, altogether, offers some serious heat and a welcome, if fleeting, reprieve from winter’s final offensive.