6 cozy Colorado cocktails to keep you warm this holiday season

As the temperatures dip, a warm sip of a cozy cocktail is sure to keep you in good spirits this winter.

Of course you’re familiar with hottie toddies, classic eggnog and spiked hot chocolate, but a host of restaurants in and around Denver have come up with some creative ways to defrost even the most frigid souls. From a creamy hot buttered rum to a take on a Black Manhattan, these atypical libations will be your favorite liquid layer this season.

When you can’t find a fire to sit around or just need an excuse to get out of the house, here are six cocktails that will warm you up from the inside out:

Dry Land Distillers’ Hot Buttered Rum

Dry Land Distillers owner Nels Wroe tried his first hot buttered rum when he met his wife’s Italian family during the holidays 26 years ago. It was their longstanding recipe and tradition, and after his several glasses, he never looked back.

“When my now mother-in-law pulled out the frozen hot buttered rum batter that first holiday with them, I didn’t know what to expect,” Wroe said. “I vaguely remember after the third or fourth one that I had to stop trying to keep up with a family that clearly knows how to drink, but it was such a memorable experience for me.”

Like his wife’s family, Wroe has served hot buttered rum at Dry Land Distillers in Longmont each holiday season since it opened in 2018. The rich, creamy drink is made with a frozen batter of whipped unsalted butter, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar that’s dissolved when you add hot water and mixed with the distillery’s seasonal pure cane rum, then topped with heavy cream that leaves a frothy mustache. A mug of hot buttered rum is served at Dry Land Distillers’ tasting room for $14 from November to February.

You can order a non-alcoholic version or make your own batch of hot buttered rum at home using Dry Land’s seasonal pure cane rum, but Wroe said the cocktail is never as good as it is when someone else serves it to you.

“I’m still trying to make a batch better than the one my mother-in-law first gave me,” he said.

519 Main St., Longmont; drylanddistillers.com

Señor Bear’s Choo Choo with a Stunning View

Starting on Dec. 12, Señor Bear will kick off the holidays with the opening of its Christmas pop-up bar, the Polar Bear Express, where guests can sip on a variety of winter concoctions, including Choo Choo with a Stunning View, a Latin-inspired take on eggnog.

The drink, $16, is made with Breckenridge Spiced Rum, passion fruit, Cynar, pecans, cream and egg. It’s shaken twice and served over sparkling apple cider in a holiday goblet garnished with nutmeg and mint.

“We seasonally change our menu, and as we get into these colder months, we want to offer things that are warming in nature, whether that’s in temperature or not,” said Señor Bear’s bar manager Keegan Labrador. “It doesn’t always have to be a hot drink to warm you.”

In the meantime, try out the restaurant’s take on a hotty toddy with marigold tea, to honor el Día de los Muertos, served over rye whiskey with lemon and sugar.

3301 Tejon St., Denver; senorbeardenver.com

The Cherry Cricket’s Sweater Weather

The Cherry Cricket’s coffee-based cocktail is perfect for holding in the holes of your sweater this winter season, as the band the Neighbourhood sings. “]

Sweater Weather, $8, is made with a coffee base, a half ounce of Jameson, an ounce of butterscotch schnapps and an ounce of crème de cocoa. It’s served in a glass-footed mug and topped with whipped cream.

“I’m surprised by Sweater Weather because I don’t like coffee or whiskey, but the sweetness from the butterscotch schnapps and crème de cocoa merge together so well that the bitterness from the coffee and the spice from whiskey doesn’t hit you,” said The Cherry Cricket’s Ballpark general manager Marissa Pfenning.

If you want to skip out on the caffeine, try The Cherry Cricket’s Mudslide Hot Chocolate for $9 with Kahlua, Irish cream, vodka and hot cocoa topped with chocolate drizzle and Oreos.

“Obviously, we live in Colorado, so it can get real cold, real fast, and it’s nice to have these options on days where you didn’t expect to have that frigid chill in the air,” Pfenning said.

2641 E. 2nd Ave. and 2220 Blake St., Denver; cherrycricket.com

Steuben’s The Armistice

Steuben’s has created a new cocktail called The Armistice, a cross between a Greenpoint and a Black Manhattan, that is sure to warm you from the inside out.

The Armistice, $14, is made with Rittenhouse Rye, green Chartreuse liqueur, Hoodoo Chicory liqueur, and bitters like Nardini, Averna & Angostura Amaro and Jerry Thomas Bitters. It’s stirred over ice and poured into a Hoodoo Chicory-rinsed glass over a big rock of ice.

“It’s very flavorful, spiced, dark and good for cold weather,” Steuben’s bar manager Clay Cooper said. “It’s also definitely going to help you digest all the food you eat during the holidays because bitters are good for digestion.”

Cooper spent months perfecting the recipe, and the name is an esoteric reference, he said.

“Since The Armistice has chartreuse — the only liqueur so good they named a color after it — in it and three different bitters, the name is sort of a take on a bitter truth,” Cooper said. “An armistice is a cease fire, so what could be more of a bitter truth than a cease fire?”

523 E. 17th Ave., Denver; steubens.com

Miracle Bar’s Christmas Cricket

Miracle Bar has been popping its Christmas bar up in towns around the world since it first opened in New York in 2014. This year, the pop-up bar has three locations in Denver: The Rogue Wine Bar & Patio, Union Station and the Eddy Hotel, plus a tiki-inspired spin-off called Sippin’ Santa at the Arvada Tavern.

Miracle Bar general manager Joann Spiegel created this year’s list and said her favorite cocktail is the Christmas Cricket, Miracle’s take on a minty-flavored Grasshopper cocktail. Rather than using crème de menthe and crème de cocoa, the Christmas Cricket is made with blanco tequila, vanilla liqueur, minty amaro, coco pandan, cream, mole bitters and dark chocolate shavings.

“I was sitting at a bar in my hometown in Ireland in 2018, drinking a Grasshopper, and it was a completely different variation of the typical one with rum and white chocolate,” Spiegel said. “It got me even more determined to create my own version for the menu. A Grasshopper is very indulgent and a classic dessert drink that’s very luxurious and one you would celebrate with on the holidays.”

Miracle’s most popular drink is the Christmapolitan, which Spiegel said they sold 100,000 of last holiday season. The take on the classic Cosmopolitan is made with vodka, elderflower, dry vermouth, spiced cranberry sauce, lime, rosemary and absinthe mist.

“So much goes into making these cocktails,” Spiegel said. “They’re not just an afterthought. They’re really worked on a pass figures test to make sure they work for the holidays and appeal to a broader demographic. We try to have something for everybody on the menu, whether you like that dessert drink or something a bit more spirit-forward.”

1701 Wynkoop St., Denver; 7939 E. Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village; 1640 8th St, Golden; 5707 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada; miracledenver.com

Colorado Campfire’s Mallow on the Graham

For folks missing camping this winter, Colorado Campfire’s Mallow on the Graham is sure to quench your thirst. Tap Fourteen in LoDo opened a second location in Uptown in 2018, but two years later, the business decided to rebrand as Colorado Campfire.

And it just seemed fitting to create a specialty cocktail that reflects the rebrand, according to beverage program director Renee Epps.

“The name is a reference to Smalls from ‘The Sandlot’ when he’s showing the group how to make a s’more,” Epps said.

Mallow on the Graham, $13, is made with two ounces of vodka, an ounce of crème de cocoa, a half ounce of bourbon cream, a splash of half-and-half and a splash of Hershey’s chocolate. It’s shaken and poured over ice in a rocks glass with a chocolate and graham cracker rim and a toasted marshmallow for garnish.

“It doesn’t matter what time of year, this is Colorado Campfire’s No. 1 cocktail,” Epps said.

400 E. 19th Ave., Denver; coloradocampfire.com

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