Ask A Chicago Expert: Your Best Hot Winter Drink

Ask A Chicago Expert: Your Best Hot Winter Drink

(Photo by  Eddie Mulholland-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Eddie Mulholland-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

You can step outside in the freezing cold Chicago winter and warm up with some hot cocktails at restaurants around the city, or you can make these drinks at home. Five mixologists/bartenders from around the city share some of their favorite drink recipes. Not only are they creative, but they also taste delicious and are much better than soup when it comes to warming you up on a brisk winter day.

Chris Kafcas
1970 W. Montrose Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 697-8204

In this cozy pub in the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood neighborhood, the drinks — including craft beers and cocktails — are just as important as the delectable pub food. With 17 years of experience, Beverage Director Chris Kafcas has worked at a number of Chicago institutions, and at Fountainhead, he’s dedicated to offering great food and beverage combinations as well as outstanding service.

Calvados Hot Toddy


  • 1 1/2 ounces Christian Drouin Fine
  • 1/2 ounce honey
  • Hot water
  • Pear (or apple) slice infused with 5 cloves 


  1. In a coffee mug, mix the calvados and honey until they’re combined into one.
  2. Add hot water (to taste).
  3. Garnish with pear in the glass. 

1227 W. 18th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3851

Dusek’s Board & Beer’s newest Beverage Director, Greg Buttera, has worked at some of the best restaurants and bars — including Sable and The Aviary. He’s also been interviewed for a number of publications and television shows; his recipes have also been featured, including in Food & Wine’s Cocktails 2013. He joined Dusek’s in November 2014.

Charles Dickens Punch


  • 4-6 lemons
  • 6 ounces raw sugar
  • 6 ounces fresh squeezed and fine strained lemon juice
  • 12 ounces Landy Cognac
  • 10 ounces Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
  • 4 ounces Overproof Rum such as Wray & Nephew
  • 3 tbsp good loose black tea
  • 6 cups boiling water


  1. Prepare an oleo saccharum (latin for ‘oily sugar’), which is a base for any great punch recipe. To do this, combine 6 ounces raw sugar and the peel of three lemons into a heavy pot. Stir and pound every 15 minutes for an hour.
  2. Prepare some fresh juice. While the peels and sugar macerate, squeeze and fine strain six ounces of lemon juice. The four to six lemons should do it. 
  3. Next, after the oleo saccharum has reached an hour of maceration, bring the six cups of water to a boil. Remove it from the heat, and add three ounces of black tea, and stir gently for a minute. Let this rest for eight minutes. 
  4. Flame the oleo saccharum. This means, while the tea steeps, add four ounces of overproof rum to the oleo saccharum. Then, lift one spoonful above the pot and light with a lighter. Lower that spoon into the bowl. This is the safe way to do it — do not put your hand all the way into the bowl to light the rum. Then allow this to caramelize for about two to three minutes. Extinguish by clamping a large lid onto the pot. 
  5. Add the booze by combining the rest of the spirits in your pot. 
  6. Finish the drink by pouring it through a strainer into a crockpot. Add the lemon juice as well as the hot tea. Ladle a portion (of four to five ounces) into teacups and serve. 

3908 N. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 404-8955

This Lakeview restaurant may be known for its delicious, crispy pizza and other Italian specialties, but it also has a stellar hand-crafted cocktail bar menu thanks to bar manager Maegan Reddick. This particular martini recipe is perfect for warming you from the inside out.

Feisty Friar Martini


  • 2 ounces Frangelico
  • 1 ounce XO Patron Cafe
  • 1/4 to 1/2 ounce hot chili syrup (pureed chiles and simple syrup)
  • Salt (for half the cup’s rim)


  1. Shake all ingredients together, and put under an espresso machine steamer or microwave (until the desired temperature is reached).
  2. Pour into a martini glass with a half-salted rim. 
  3. Garnish with dried chili. 

Related: Best Fall Cocktails in Chicago

Griffin Elliott
123 N. Jefferson St.
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 441-1920

This rustic but contemporary Michelin-starred restaurant features seasonal dishes in a classic atmosphere. And behind the bar you’ll find Griffin Elliott crafting an ever-changing cocktail list. Come winter time, he creates some wonderful drinks that are designed to warm you up.

Hot Buttered Rum

Drink Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
  • 3/4 ounce Cruzan Black Strap Rum
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • Lemon wedge
  • Spiced butter dough (recipe follows)

Spiced Butter Dough Ingredients (Makes roughly 10 servings)

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Plugra butter
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp clove
  • 1 t nutmeg


  1. Make the spiced butter dough by combining sugar, butter and spices in a mixing bowl. Roll the dough into individual balls, about 10 to 12 of them.
  2. To make the drink, place one spiced butter dough ball in a hot toddy glass, and then add 3/4 ounce of each rum. 
  3. Top the drink with hot water, and stir until dissolved. 
  4. Garnish with a lemon wheel. 

Derek Walker
100 E. Ontario St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-6768

Located in the historic McCormic Mansion, SideDoor Restaurant is an American gastropub. Enjoy a casual meal and imbibe on some wonderful cocktails by bartender Derek Walker, who loves to bring his training as a historian and love of coffee into mixology. One such cocktail is his Cafe Normandy cocktail which is a play on the classic coffee drink.

Cafe Normandy cocktail (or, What’s in Charlotte Corday’s coffee?)


  • 1.5 ounces Courvoisier VSOP Cognac
  • 1 ounce Kronan Swedish Punsch
  • 1/2 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice dram
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Plum Bitters
  • 3-4 ounces hot French roast coffee
  • 3-4 ounces steamed cider
  • 1 twist of lemon or orange peel


  1. Stir together cognac, punsch, dram and bitters in a tempered glass. 
  2. Top with equal parts hot coffee and steamed cider. 
  3. Add twist of lemon or orange, rimming the glass with essential oils. 

Related: Best Rum Cocktails in Chicago

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s writing about a variety of topics for numerous websites and blogs, and working part-time at a culinary vacation company based in the Windy City. Some of her work can be found at