Whether you’re après ski or après work, there’s nothing like snowy peaks of whipped cream atop boozy cocoa or housemade marshmallows as light as clouds over a mountain served alongside. Winter sports fans have been suiting up to hit the slopes for mid-winter break, but even if you’re stuck in your slope-less city, never fear — there are plenty of metropolitan hot cocktails to fill your glass and warm you up no matter what Old Man Winter has in store.
Preston’s, Killington, Vermont
In case blazing down Vermont’s highest peak at full-speed isn’t enough of a rush, some sugar should do the trick. Spiked cocoas are the hottest warm-up on the menu, says Preston’s lead bartender Bruce Noble, including the Snowshed made with peppermint schnapps and hot cocoa and the Double Dipper with vodka and crème de menthe for an extra wintery blast. Skiers or those just along for a great view can enjoy these sweet sips both at Killington Resort Hotel’s newest bar and restaurant, Preston’s or in the resort lodge, which sports floor-to-ceiling windows, leather couches, fireplaces, and views of five states and Canada. Not on the menu — but just as tasty — is complimentary spiked cider for hotel guests who opt for a sleigh ride. Make a reservation at Preston’s.
Parsnip, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Brand-new Parsnip has replaced the hot-pink walls of its predecessor with a sleek modern look, a reinvented menu — and a Little Green Monster as part of its couture cocktail list. One of its top tipples is made with pisco, sapling maple liqueur, hot coconut cream, toasted pecan bitters, and matcha tea powder, the earthy, emerald-hued beverage of choice in Japan. It’s only befitting for a neighborhood boasting a large international student population in Harvard Square. Make a reservation at Parsnip.
Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
When our nation’s capital got walloped with the blizzard of a century, many of the district’s finest soothed themselves with something hot and icy. Centrolina’s Hot Buttered Rum Affogato (affogato is Italian for drowned) traditionally includes a scoop of vanilla gelato topped with hot espresso. Chef Amy Brandwein’s version enhances it with two rums — one spiced — along with housemade brown-sugar simple syrup and a scoop of the eatery’s hand-crafted brown butter ice cream. While it may not be the traditional martini of Washington’s power suits, it’s enough sugar for anyone to power through even the strongest of political storms. Make a reservation at Centrolina.
The Silver Dollar Grill, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Coconut plucked from a sandy beach is about the furthest thing from a ski slope there is — unless you’re clasping a mug full of Cocoa Nut Warmer, featuring coconut vodka, cream of coconut, and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Whether it’s après ski or shopping in Town Square, locals and visitors alike belly up to the bar at the Silver Dollar for its rotating selection of hot winter warmers — but they truly go nuts for the Cocoa Nut. It was created by Tracy Denison, just one of several veteran pourers. “Some of our bartenders have been here for over 10 years, so they have an intimate knowledge of what the locals like,” says Sheila McCann of life at the historic Wort Hotel’s watering hole. “We always consult them when trying to develop new cocktails because they all have led very different lives through traveling, dining out, and researching on their own.” Make a reservation at The Silver Dollar Grill.
Bourbon Steak, Washington, D.C.
With a restaurant name like Bourbon Steak, it’s only natural for its new star cocktail to include that spirit, too. For a limited time as part of the Four Seasons Hotels’ Tea & Coffee Cocktail Quarterly series, this Georgetown hot spot is offering up its version of a hot toddy, complete with steaming black tea, lemon juice, honey, and, of course, bourbon. Don’t live in D.C.? No worries — mixologists from many Four Seasons properties across the U.S. and abroad will be creating both hot and cold café-based cocktails through April, served in classic glassware or teapots and coffee cups with seasonal and local ingredients and garnishes. Make a reservation at Bourbon Steak.
Prospect, Aspen, Colorado
For a city built largely on its silver-mining prospects, it’s apropos that one of its star bartenders is named Ryan Sterling. His Javalicious — featuring vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s, and whipped cream — makes for a great brunch treat at Prospect or post-ski warmer in the storied Jerome Hotel’s Living Room Lounge. Other hot snow-chasers include Old Man Winter Cider with spiced rum, hot apple cider, and a cinnamon-sugar rim and a Colorado Toddy with whiskey, honey, tea, and fresh lemon. For those who like to raise a glass, the hotel’s wood-paneled J-Bar is a can’t-miss virtual time machine, where everyone from socialites and cowboys to members of the Tenth Mountain Division and Hunter S. Thompson alike have gathered to experience the true flavor of the Old West. Make a reservation at Prospect.
Bar Boulud, Boston, Massachusetts
Good things come in threes at Bar Boulud, where pastry chef Robert Differ’s Chocolât Chaud Trio makes an impressive entrance served as a grand flight. While the three —featuring salted caramel, classic peppermint, and dark cocoa — delight all ages, many diners opt to enhance their treats and make it a cordial with the addition of Bailey’s liqueur. True to his ethos of balancing juxtaposing textures, temperatures, and seasonal flavors, the chocolât trio is served with sweet treats including macaroons, marshmallows, and chocolate bark. Make a reservation at Bar Boulud.
Stickney’s, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
The amount of power that falls on the picturesque peaks of northern New Hampshire may be up to Mother Nature, but there’s always one predictable thing at the Omni Mount Washington Resort: the popularity of the Winter Cookie. The original cocktail is an indulgent treat featuring Bailey’s, butterscotch schnapps, cinnamon schnapps, hot chocolate, and whipped cream — just right for those who’ve burned some energy on the resort’s 464 acres dedicated to skiing and snowboarding (or on its new forest canopy tour through Bretton Woods with 10 zip lines and deep-forest rappelling). Grab a seat by the fire at brand-new Stickney’s, enjoy a more traditional cloth napkin experience in the Main Dining Room, or hit the Prohibition-era Cave speakeasy on-site. Make a reservation at Stickney’s.
Carley Thornell is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration. Shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: Chandler Burgess (Preston’s).