How to Stock Your Bar for Winter Cocktails

When it comes to the perfect winter cocktails, there is no shortage of lovely libations to sip on chilly nights. Here are tips from award-winning cocktail makers for what to have on hand for the best delicious winter cocktails. 

A closeup shot shows a deep brown espresso martini with a layer of foam and coffee bean garnish with the glass on a gold tray

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What to stock for winter cocktails 

When stocking a bar for winter, you want to ensure that you have the basics, the spirits most commonly used to warm us up on chilly nights.

Essential winter cocktails include hot toddies, eggnog, Irish Coffee and smoked old-fashioneds

Here’s what you need to stock your bar for the best winter cocktails:

Pomegranate martini, a delightful cocktail adorned with lemon and pomegranate garnish.

Winter spirits

When choosing spirits for winter,  look for richer spiced, bourbon barrel-aged, and fragrant notes to be the base of warming winter cocktail recipes. 

When you head to the liquor store, consider grabbing some of these types of spirits to stock your bar.

Get a mixture of options that work in your favorite cocktails as well as boozy mix-ins for drinks like hot chocolate and coffee.

In addition to spirits and liqueurs, pick up some wine and beer for guests who may prefer them. You can use the wine to make a drink like mulled wine, Thanksgiving sangria or Christmas sangria. For beer, get a few basics like pilsners or lagers, plus something seasonal like a winter ale or pumpkin beer.

Two glasses of red cranberry sangria with cranberries and sprigs of rosemary.

Mixers for winter

Mixers can sweeten or cut a cocktail, add acidity, and are vital ingredients to building flavorful, balanced drinks. In addition, we enjoy Fever Tree tonic and club sodas for mixing cocktails. Their bubbles hold up and create an enjoyable sipping experience.

Stocking a bar for winter is as simple as building out some commonly-used mixers like: 

A cup of apple cider with cinnamon sticks and apples.

Simple syrups for winter

Simple syrups offer an effortless way to sweeten a drink. But even more so, they are a straightforward trick to infusing flavors into cocktails.

A simple syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water. Once the sugar has dissolved in the water, you can add fragrant ingredients as the syrup rests, creating subtle flavor infusions and sweetness for future cocktails.

In winter, we particularly love simple pine syrup and simple rosemary syrup for winter gin and tonics and smoked gin martinis.

Here are some more flavors you can add to your homemade simple syrups:

Besides a syrup made of sugar and water, maple syrup and honey are another great winter cocktail sweetener. 

Bitters

Bitters are the secret that elevates a cocktail from good to extraordinary. They stimulate our tastebuds, accentuating the drinking experience. We commonly think of Angostura bitters in cocktails, like the old-fashioned, but changing something as subtle as what bitters you’re using can pack a subtle but powerful punch of flavor and spice. 

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03/08/2024 03:38 pm GMT

For winter, we love using these bitters:

  • black walnut bitters
  • cardamom bitters
  • orange bitters 
  • bonfire bitters 

When adding bitters to a cocktail, a simple dash of one to three bitters is all that’s needed.

A gold rimmed martini glass contains a coffee martini

Bar tools

Once your spirits, mixers, simple syrups and bitters are stocked, you are ready to craft unique winter cocktails like any expert mixologist. 

You’ll also need a few tools to craft many cocktails:

These don’t need to be extravagant or fancy and can often be found as kits or sets to get your bar started all at once. 

Homestia Boston Shaker Bar Set, 9 Pieces
$39.99
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Glassware

Make sure your bar also has a stock of cocktail glasses, as the shape of the glass is also a component of the cocktail experience itself.

One set of martini glasses, rocks glasses and glass drinking mugs with sturdy handles are all you need for a perfect winter bar. 

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A cup of mulled eggnog in a gold cup.

Winter garnishes

And finally, every cocktail is complete with the perfect garnish. So add the festive finishing touches to your winter cocktails with garnishes like cinnamon sticks, grated nutmeg, cloves, star anise, lemon twist, orange peel, cranberries and fresh rosemary. 

You could also whip up some homemade whipped cream, perfect for topping coffee drinks and hot chocolate bombs.

By keeping these ingredients and tools on hand, you’ll be able to make a variety of delicious winter cocktails and impress your guests. So whether you’re mixing a smoked gin & tonic or refreshing pomegranate martini, once your bar is stocked, you can enjoy cozy winter cocktails without leaving the comfort of your home. 

Christmas sangria infused with cranberries and sprigs of rosemary.

More winter cocktails

As always, cocktails are intended for responsible consumers over the legal drinking age of 21. 

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

A woman wearing glasses and a leather jacket leaning against a blue wall is the acclaimed author, Kita.

Kita Roberts

Guest Writer

Kita Roberts is a world-traveled photographer and content creator writing for Girl Carnivore, Pass the Sushi and Romantic Weekend Getaways.

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