ChicagoTribune: Just after 1 a.m. on a recent chilly Friday, I’m seated at the center of a gorgeous parquet bar counter, perusing a collection of rare, decades-old spirits. And I’m sipping a cocktail through a jumbo, candy-striped straw stuck into a frosted milk bottle.
Such is the dichotomy of an evening spent at Logan Square’s Billy Sunday, the precise-yet-not-stuffy neighborhood bar from Matthias Merges. The bar feels equally at home serving an adult take on milk and cookies as it is exploring the subtle variations of Italy’s fernet producers of the last century.
NOPE! Sorry to Chicago’s Billy Sunday but they are WAY over thinking the winter adult beverage. You don’t need gimmicks like frosted milk bottles and candy striped straws. Sure maybe The Box Lunch is a great tasting drink, who’s to say? But when the weather is frigid and the days are short these are the only 5 drinks you’ll need to hibernate with until spring.
5. The Hot Toddy (Made With Crown Royal Only)
Gay name, delicious drink. The Hot Toddy should be an absolute staple of winter drinking. It’s the perfect after dinner drink or breakfast drink, it’s a versatile mother fucker. Has all the great holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and it’s hot so it’s perfect in cold weather. Only draw back to the Toddy is can you really see yourself downing 10 of them during a night out? Of course you can’t, you probably can’t even see yourself ordering one…but made at home watching a bowl game there are few things better.
4. Irish Coffee
Just as versatile as the Toddy but you won’t feel like a loser ordering one in public. Again, perfect for cold weather and contains the core winter time spirit, whiskey. However, just like the Toddy you won’t be getting drunk off these. Great hangover cure and great way to start the night after dinner but it cannot be the star of the evening. A great Irish Coffee though can jumpstart a tremendous night of debauchery where you’ll want to settle down with 1 of the next 3 entries in our countdown.
3. White Russian
Sure the White Russian can be drank year round but it works twice as well in the winter time. It’s dark, it’s cloudy, it has a flavor that is much more conducive to winter or fall than spring or summer. It’s delicious and you can drink a ton of them…at least I can. It’s a drink that sneaks up on you too. Even a stiff one masks the alcohol taste so they are easy to slam fast. But they will fuck you up…which I guess is the point so who cares right?
2. Bourbon Rocks
Simple, elegant, perfect. A nice bourbon (Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden’s, etc) on ice is the perfect companion on a cold winter’s night. Chilling by the fire, feet up, college basketball on tv, it doesn’t get much better. Sure any bourbon will do, but if you have a nice one that you are content to sip and let that slow burn descend down your throat and warm you from the inside you will find few better drinking experiences. Whiskey really is the master of winter, which brings us to #1.
#1 Single Malt Scotch…Neat
Whether you prefer a more peaty flavor or you like an oaky finish there is nothing more satisfying on a cold night than pouring yourself a couple fingers of a really fine scotch. Blends should not be considered, but if in a pinch ok. A great single malt from say Islay will warm you to the core. Maybe the most relaxing drink there is, you don’t have to race melting ice cubes or the drink getting cold. Just sit back, take your time and let the buzz creep over you. For relaxing times, make it single malt scotch time.
And there it is, my picks for the 5 best winter drinks. Obviously there are some great beers but I wanted to keep this strictly to spirits. So chose one of these and stay warm and buzzed all winter long.