Bartenders Tell Us Their Favorite Hot Cocktails For Fall


Lets face it, we’ve been pretty lucky in the weather department this fall. Temperatures in October have been summer-like for most of the country. But, it won’t last. Temperatures are going to dip back to where they are expected for this time of year soon. Some weather forecasters are predicting it to happen as early as this week.

Have no fear. You probably already wore out those tank-tops and board shorts anyway. It’s time for long pants, flannel shirts, and sweaters. And with water attire and cold weather comes fall beers, Starbucks new cups, and the need for a warm cup of tea, piping hot coffee, and hot cocktails. We asked bartenders across the country to tell us some of their favorite hot cocktails. From the classic Hot Toddy to the Irish coffee, they’ve got you covered like a warm blanket in front of a crackling fire.

Tom and Jerry

Nick Bennett, bartender at Porchlight in New York City

“Oh that’s easy. The Tom and Jerry Cocktail is hands down my favorite hot cocktail. It is a pain to make but with a little patience the pay off is totally worth it. It has rich and full of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, boozy, and delicious. It is basically a hot Egg Nog, but so much better (and you know I have to be serious if I am saying that something is better than Egg Nog).”

Hot Toddy


Sean Potter, director of food and drinks at Stoke in Charlotte

“I love the hot toddy. I do a variation on it though—I like to use bourbon because I prefer the sweetness I get off of it. And instead of using normal tea, I like to use chai tea because I prefer the flavor, especially when mixed with the bourbon. I love to add some cranberry and spiced bitters to it as well. If you want to sweeten it up a little bit, adding some orgeat syrup is a nice touch too.”

Hot Buttered Rum

Ryan Autry, bar manager at the Blind Pig Kitchen + Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita, California

“I’m a sucker for colonial cocktails. Put a Hot Buttered Rum in front of me and I’m golden. It’s freaking winter goodness in a mug. Winter spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, ginger) folded into a rich batter of brown sugar, cream, and butter, then jacked up by an awesome aged rum to add some vanilla notes and throw in a touch of cognac. Add hot water and some fresh whipped cream and it’s magical. Like Harry Potter magical.”

Hot Hazelnut Cocktail

Ryan McGraw, bartender at Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails in Irvine, California

“It’s a combination of steamed milk, crème de cassis (Black Currant Liqueur) and Frangelico (Hazelnut Liqueur). It tastes like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. No matter what is happening in my life, this cocktail, for those brief moments, reminds me of my childhood and all is right with the world.”

Bourbon, Coffee, and Maple Syrup

Lee Farrell, general manager at Laurel Tavern in Hermoa Beach, California

“Bourbon, coffee and maple syrup. That’s it. This is my breakfast coffee: Two ounces bourbon, six ounces coffee and a half-ounce of maple syrup. Maybe fresh grated cinnamon on there if I’m feeling fancy.”

Dirty Chai Toddy

Liz Senyak, bartender at Datz in Tampa

“My go-to hot cocktail is a Dirty Chai Toddy with bourbon of course. Why is it my favorite? This toddy is the perfect brunch cocktail! Who doesn’t love bourbon for breakfast!”

Irish Coffee

Jeremy Oertel, bartender at Death and Co. in New York City

“Has to be an Irish Coffee. It’s one of the best ways to finish off a meal or just as a pick me up on a cold day. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey works great in one of these. It’s finished in ex-rum barrels and has just the right amount of sweetness. If I’m having one after dinner a dash of Fernet-Branca is also a great touch.”

Mexican Coffee

Christy Vega, owner of Casa Vega in Los Angeles

“My favorite hot cocktail is a Mexican Coffee. I love coffee flavor combined with tequila and liqueurs. Plus the whip on top–heavenly.”

Hot Penicillin

Michael Croom, lead bartender at Esters Wine Shop and Bar in Santa Monica, California

“My favorite hot cocktail is a slight variation on the classic cocktail called ‘The Penicillin.’ I do a mixture of fresh mint, lemon, honey, fresh ginger syrup, bourbon, and ciocaro amaro, which is a delicious dark, spicy italian digestivo. Add a few ounces of boiling water, and it’ll knock out whatever is getting you down.”

Mulled Wine

Pamela Wiznitzer, creative director at Seamstress NYC

“My favorite hot cocktail is either a mulled cider or a mulled wine. With either one, I like to add a splash of rum to give it some backbone. Instead of a traditional rum, I like something with more funk and body and reach for an aged cachaca like Novo Fogo Barrel Aged to give the drink a nice kick!!”