A Drinker’s Guide to the Cold

Drink Features

Arctic blasts. Polar vortexes. Whiteout blizzards. Broken furnaces. Whatever you call it, the cold is back. And while you might have armored yourself against the elements with down jackets and faux fur hats with earflaps, navigating your love of the drink in single-digit temps can surface challenges that are unique to the worst part of winter. Here are a few tips to keep you on a sure path through the ice and snow.

Go Hot
Cold weather? Warm drinks. Mulled wine feels just perfect and right when you’re at a ski resorts or sitting fireside. A hot toddy delivers a curative effect that makes it essential for staving off the chill and head colds. And the only potential downside of an Irish coffee is that the caffeine might keep you up. To that, we say double the whiskey. Also consider bourbon tea, buttered rum, a warm rum punch, or any host of special seasonal cocktails your hipster mixologist has warmed over his vintage bunsen burner.

Go Tailgating
Until the NFL changes the schedule, there will always be winter tailgating. Surviving such events should follow the same common-sense guidelines of all cold-weather activities (wear lots of layers and gloves). But if you’re standing in a frozen parking lot for hours, tossing back beer, be sure to keep moving—snowball fights, tossing the football, executing a poor imitation of your favorite touchdown celebratory dance—to keep warm. And outfit yourself with one of many vacuum-sealed containers on the market (like those from Stanley, Thermos, or Hydroflask), which can keep beverages (and food) hot for up to 12 hours.

Go With Shots
Yeah, the Russians were onto something when they fortified against the cold of Siberia with shots of vodka. So consider starting off your evening with a shot to equalize the senses and warm the core. Brown or clear, both should do the job. Just stay away from that god-awful cinnamon whiskey. No one should drink that stuff.

Go Dark (and Spicy)
Fall’s flood of pumpkin beers gives way to the deep, dark world of winter beers—and they’re pretty spectacular. Try the Fireside Chat, a full-bodied winter warmer with a boozy 7.9% ABV from 21st Amendment; Sierra Nevada’s Celebration American IPA; and Bell’s Winter White, a full-bodied witbier. The Bruery also releases the latest in their experimental series of beers inspired by The 12 Days of Christmas. This year it’s 7 Swans-a-Swimming, a Belgian quad with a straightforward recipe and a rich, complex flavor profile.

Go With Science
That balmy glow, those red cheeks, that warm tingle in your belly? You may feel warm after a few drinks, but it’s an illusion. As you drink, blood rushes to the exterior of your skin as the peripheral vessels dilate, drawing heat from your core. This is not an excuse to streak home through the snow. In fact, there’s never a good reason for that.

Go Gentle into that Late Night
And, in news that should shock absolutely no one, alcohol can lead to bad decisions and even worse balance. Things may look as downy soft and playful as a city inside a snow globe, but slick surfaces are everywhere, especially later at night, when the melted snow starts to freeze over in the dark hours. Take it slow. Don’t run. And consider swapping out your trendy flat-bottom sneakers for a pair of shoes with good traction.

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