The trees have changed their colors and the weather is getting cooler every day—you know what that means! Nothing says it’s time to celebrate quite like festive seasonal drinks. From fizzy French 75s to kid-approved cocoa, everyone has a drink they wait through summer to sip. We surveyed 1,000 people about their favorite cold-weather libations, and searched the country for the best places to sample and sip. Bottoms up!
9. French 75
The French 75 may not be the most popular holiday drink, but it has a dedicated following. The tangy-sweet bubbly dates back to 1915 in Paris at the New York Bar. Since then, it crossed the Atlantic and evolved into a very simple sparkling cocktail of Champagne, gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Toast to the season with these favorites:
Washington, D.C.: The national capital is known for big moments in history and influential people. But here’s a secret: D.C. is also a lovely place to hide away and people-watch in a beloved café with your favorite cocktail. Locals love Le Diplomate for its comfort and elegance … and their exquisite French 75s. Whether you order the original or a fruity fusion, you’re in for a chic treat.
Agoura Hills, California: In the hills 14 miles north of Malibu, Agoura Hills is a hub for live music and craft brews — oh, and the desert setting is stunning. Ladyface Ale Companie serves their French 75 in a lovely Champagne coupe. This Southern California ale house has its own herb garden and garnishes this drink with fresh, hand-picked lavender. Sip, relax, repeat.
8. Mulled wine
Call it mulled wine, hot wine, holiday wine, glogg, spiced wine — we don’t care. Just serve it strong and steaming. Mulled wine is a winter tradition worldwide, and it’s gaining popularity in the U.S., too! Make your own with a bold red, spice, fresh citrus, and some cognac, or let these experts handle it:
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: During the colder seasons, Power House pours Warm Winter Spiced Wine, and it’s $2 off on Wednesdays! Cinnamon and orange zest give this traditional recipe a flavor as rustic as Power House itself. It’s the perfect way to warm up during Downtown in December, OKC’s annual winter festival that fills the city with plenty of holiday cheer.
Chicago, Illinois: Simon’s Tavern is known for pouring a strong glogg, the Swedish spin on spiced seasonal wine. It’s spiked with port and brandy and served with a biscuit-style cookie. Simon’s is over 80 years old and a landmark in the Andersonville neighborhood. Explore the community’s multicultural heritage by browsing the Swedish American Museum, and of course, guzzling glogg.
7. Hot buttered rum
National Hot Buttered Rum Day isn’t until January 17, but that means you have only a couple months to practice the perfect sip. The name says it all, and this decadent drink is an easy fall cocktail for a crowd, so gather your squad.
San Diego, California: Soak up the vintage apothecary vibes at Polite Provisions while enjoying a decidedly old-school drink. You might even forget the warm SoCal weather as you sip. The bar’s savvy mixologists like to make their hot buttered rum with coconut oil and Irish butter. When you’re ready to wander back into the California vibes, venture to nearby Balboa Park’s lush botanical garden and Spanish-style architecture.
Dennis Port, Massachusetts: Cleat & Anchor take the comfort level up a notch — if that’s possible — with a generous dollop of whipped cream and spice atop their hot buttered rum. Walk half a mile from Cleat & Anchor to the picturesque Sea Street Beach or simply get cozy in this welcoming and casual setting while you sip away a chilly winter in the Cape.
6. Egg nog
Once considered a medicinal mixture, this holiday drink’s true curative powers have been revealed over the ages — it can turn any quiet gathering into a party.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: From the ski trails in nearby Theodore Wirth Park to the sparkling lights of Holidazzle, we already know Minneapolis is a winter wonderland. Each autumn and winter, Lawless Distilling Company hosts a pop-up cocktail bar with holiday drinks, including craft eggnog, made with their own rum and a flavorful twist at the mixologist’s discretion. Miracle at Lawless starts November 23 through December 30.
Indianapolis, Indiana: Home to beloved farm-to-table eateries, Fletcher Place is already known as a small but flavorful neighborhood south of downtown Indy. Take a tasting tour during the harvest season and make sure Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery is on the itinerary. They serve a spicy, boozy vegan V-Eggnog at their tasting room. Plus, the venue is animal friendly and a very welcoming place for LGBTQ travelers. Cheers to that!
5. Hot toddy
Winter cocktails have intriguing origins, and hot toddies are no exception! Were the first toddies dipped from Tod’s Well in Edinburgh, or perhaps the work of cultural alchemy inspired by an ancient Indian elixir? We can ponder this over a hot mug of whiskey, lemon, honey, and spices.
Aurora, New York: In Aurora, Roycroft Inn makes their Ali Baba’s toddy with an Upstate twist. Clan MacGregor Scotch and allspice dram liqueur give it depth, and local maple syrup and fresh orange make this toddy one sweet sipper. Can you think of anything cozier than cuddling up with a hot toddy in the stunning Finger Lakes region watching the snow fall? We can’t!
Geneva, Ohio: Did you know Ohio has wine country? Well, they do, and Geneva is at its heart. But wine is just the half of it! Take in the nostalgia of a Midwestern holiday and imbibe this international favorite with a local spin. Ferrante Winery & Ristorante blends a hot toddy with their Cranberry Blanc and apple cider. It’s like a traditional toddy meets mulled wine, meets hot cider. And we’re totally here for it.
4. Peppermint mocha
These days, peppermint mochas are among the essential winter drinks. Mint is refreshing and festive, and be honest, it reminds you of eating candy canes during the holidays. Add dark chocolate and a couple shots of espresso and you get childhood whimsy with a grownup buzz.
Newburgh, Indiana: In Newburgh, Indiana, The Refinery serves a decadent iced peppermint mocha that looks and tastes like an old-fashioned milkshake with a kick of espresso. Just like this charming shop, Newburgh is steeped in history. Peek into the past at the locally curated Newburgh Museum, and learn about the area’s earlier inhabitants at the Angel Mounds State Historic Site in nearby Evansville.
Houston, Texas: There’s always something brewing in Houston during the holidays, like the festive City of Houston Thanksgiving Day Parade and the glittering Christmas Village at Bayou Bend. You’re gonna need that minty mocha to keep up! The baristas at GrindHouse are known for latte art that’s as unique and innovative as Space City. You can even order your peppermint mocha with an edgy skull or dragon.
3. Pumpkin spice latte
Kicking off the top three, pumpkin spices lattes are the forerunners of fall drinks. It isn’t really autumn until the nutmeg dusts the whip cream atop our first PSL of the season. Try these pumpkin people pleasers:
Seattle, Washington: You can order the original pumpkin spice latte all over the country until Thanksgiving, but why not visit the oldest Starbucks in Seattle’s Pikes Place Market? There’s something special about steamy espresso with autumnal views of the peaceful Puget Sound. Enjoy a gondola ride on the Seattle Great Wheel as you sip your PSL for an essential fall experience.
Tampa, Florida: Tampa’s warm year-round temps may not seem all that cozy, but you’ll feel ready for sweater weather when you’re walking the Courtney Campbell Trail at sunset with a pumpkin spice latte from the Little Donut House. Dusky orange skies reflecting on the water, and a house-made spices will have all your seasonal cravings covered.
2. Spiced cider
Coming in second on our survey, spiced cider proves that Americans love to sip their apple a day. Harvest season is in full swing at the peak of autumn, but apple cider is delicious through even the longest winters.
Waterbury Center, Vermont: If you’ve daydreamed about escaping to northern Vermont for the holidays, you are not alone! In every direction, the tree-lined landscape looks like a postcard waiting to be sent. When you want the historical orchard experience and a hot cider that warms your hands and your heart, get thee to Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Tour the historical orchard and mill and enjoy the idyllic scenery.
Baltimore, Maryland: Baltimore is no stranger to innovation. Near historical Tide Point, Order&Chaos Coffee is always mixing up inventive hot drinks. This season, they launched a pomegranate apple spiced cider. The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and spice comes as no surprise from this creative and dynamic drink slinger. Order yours to go and explore the Baltimore Museum of Industry across the street.
1. Hot chocolate
No matter how old you are or how cold it gets outside, hot chocolate hits the spot. Cultures all over the world have their take on this exquisite beverage, so it makes sense that it’s the most popular seasonal drink in America according to our survey!
Hoboken, New Jersey: The first chance you get to escape the city, you need to head to Hoboken, a multicultural city with cozy neighborhood hot spots. With a mouthwatering recipe for every chocoholic’s favorite beverage, Zafra Kitchen makes their hot cocoa with Venezuelan chocolate. Dine on Cuban Latino dishes and linger after dinner and let the rich Bucare chocolate and spices warm you up.
Yountville, California: When you’re in the Napa Valley and you need a break from tasting tannins, relax with a sweet treat as complex as a cabernet sauvignon. With just a kiss of woodsy spices and vanilla, the house-made hot chocolate at Bouchon Bakery is as decadent as the renowned bakery’s pastries. Made with three chocolates — dark, milk, and white — one sip is a multifaceted cocoa experience.
What are your favorite seasonal drinks for fall and winter and where do you like to sip them? Let us know in the comments!
Header image via: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock.com