10 Hot Cocktails To Keep You Warm

Sure, you’re bundled up in layers of cozy-cute outerwear, but sometimes, it really is what’s on the inside that counts. To give that mantra a yummy spin, we’ve rounded up ten of the most lip-smacking, steamy libations that will thaw you out in no time.
Whether you’re a whiskey swigger or prefer the more buttery varieties, this drink list will show you that having a total meltdown isn’t always a bad thing. Think you can take the heat? Discover all the misted-up mugs after the jump — just don’t tell Frosty the Snowman.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Hot Buttered Rum Cider, $11, at The Slanted Door
After a day of hunting for artisanal goods at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, we suggest you take a little boozy break at The Slanted Door. Its soothing Hot Buttered Rum Cider has a sweet, spicy, and citrus aroma, and the gorgeous butterscotch hue makes it almost too pretty to drink. Served in a clear mug garnished with a cinnamon stick, star anise, and an orange peel, this mulled-cider concoction is all the warming company you’ll need when enjoying the Vietnamese eatery’s gorgeous view of the Bay.
The Slanted Door, 1 Ferry Building Marketplace (at Embarcadero); 415-861-8032.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Hot Castle Dip, $11, at Bar Agricole
Perhaps the most beautiful libation on the list, The Hot Castle Dip is an elixir that will please more than just the eye. The lucid concoction gets its gorgeous pops of color from the garden-grown spearmint and twist of lemon. But, it’s the absinthe that lends those complex notes of black licorice; and the six-year-old calvados from Normandy that makes it so top-notch boozy. Served in a Japanese mug, this drink will have you feeling like the king — or queen! — of the castle.
Bar Agricole, 355 11th Street (between Harrison and Folsom streets); 415-355-9400.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Roman Hot Toddy, $11, at Locanda
When this steaming bevvie is served, you’ll feel like a character in a Fitzgerald tale with Locanda’s choice of Gatsbyish art-deco mug. Inside the stunning glass is a fusion of honey syrup, lemon juice, and cinnamon. What makes this hot toddy stand out? Its Roman twist comes at us in the form of calvados mixed with Amaro Sibilant instead of the usual whiskey. The result? A slightly smoky, always spicy, herbaceous sip. The drink will be around until February, and then the Roman Empire will fall once more.
Locanda, 557 Valencia Street (at 16th Street); 415-863-6800.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Hot & Bonded, $10, at 15 Romolo
If the thought of hard liquor gives you the shivers, and you prefer things on the sweet and sour side, 15 Romolo’s Hot & Bonded will be your jam this winter. Following the bar’s theme of “Sherry Christmas,” the drink is made with house vermouth, bonded applejack brandy, and then sweetened with allspice dram and liqueur, lemon juice, and maple. Crowning the cocktail is a cranberry foam, which is a nice cold start to a warm drink. Just don’t “bond” with the drink too much, because it will disappear in mid-January.
15 Romolo, 15 Romolo Plaza (at Broadway Street); 415-398-1359.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Spanish Coffee, $14, at Absinthe
Be prepared for a mini-firework show when you order up the secret-menu-item Spanish Coffee at Absinthe, because sparks will fly! The embers ignite when the bartender pours in hydro-proof rum into a wine glass, rims the side with sugar, lights a match, and then shakes cinnamon for some added fun. Side note: Bartenders have singed eyebrows in the making of this drink. The Venezuelan Araku coffee snuffs out the fire, but the remaining roasted cinnamon makes it smell — and taste — like a Christmas campfire.
Absinthe, 398 Hayes Street (at Gough Street); 415-551-1590.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Hot Toddy, $8, at Blackbird
A twosome of hot toddies on one list might seem like one too many, but this Blackbird version was too distinct to pass up. First of all, the toddy syrup is concentrated with Earl Grey tea so you can experience that familiar, comforting flavor while drinking it down. Plus, this sipper is crazy strong (that’s the rye whiskey doing its job), with notes of vanilla bean and brown sugar. Garnished with a lemon wedge with the prerequisite studding of cloves, this toddy is the ultimate finish to a long, bitter-cold day.
Blackbird, 2124 Market Street (at 14th Street); 415-503-0630.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Tom and Jerry, $11, at Elixir
Elixir’s Tom and Jerry tastes like a Christmas latte with a tipsy upshot and no jitters. The drink is whipped together from a frothy house-made batter of eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg, then served up with Brugal Anejo rum, Cognac Ferrand Ambre, and steamed milk. One sip, and you'll see why Elixir’s creamy potion tops our “nice” list.
Elixir, 3200 16th Street (at Guerrero Street); 415-552-1633.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Hot Apple Pie, $15, at The Fairmont Hotel
With this cocktail, your Grandma’s apple pie has some stiff competition. The Fairmont Hotel is currently decked out with festive flair, including an oversized gingerbread house, but its seasonal bar menu is the true merry maker. Its Hot Apple Pie cocktail comes in two iterations, spiced or sweet (we recommend the latter), and when you bite sip it down, you’ll be reminded why it was the original forbidden fruit. Seriously, that good.
The Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street (between Sacramento and California streets); 415-772-5000.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Kyoto Winter Warmer, $12, at Fifth Floor
Fifth Floor’s Kyoto Winter Warmer may harbor a Japanese influence with its Yamazaki whiskey, but the flavor will invoke daydreams of sitting by a toasty fire in an American countryside. What gives it that smoldered taste? Thank the black cardamom. What's more, bartender Brian Means concocted the tonic with his Grandfather’s favorite fire-pit snack in mind (bananas with M&Ms, in case you’re curious). To top it all off, the libation is balanced with citrus and spice from the handful of cloves and orange peel.
Fifth Floor, 12 4th Street (at Market Street); 415-348-1555.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Irish Coffee, $9, at The Buena Vista Cafe
No S.F. hot cocktail roundup would be complete without including The Buena Vista Cafe's infamous Irish Coffee. After the first taste, you’ll grasp why it’s managed to achieve such notoriety. The old-timey drink was inspired by the originals served in Ireland's Shannon Airport, recreated here with Tullamore Dew whiskey and a java mixture. We love how the frothy, bubbly cream never dissolves into the brew, thanks to its composite of 32% heavy whipping cream. We can’t think of a better way to top off a wintry rendezvous.
The Buena Vista Cafe, 2765 Hyde Street (at Beach Street); 415-474-5044.