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cheers to winter - dec cover

Mary Holmes enjoys a hot drink at Charlie B's in downtown Missoula. 

Missoula’s high temperature dropped about 30 degrees over of the course of one day several weeks ago - from a balmy high of 55 to a wind-chilled high of 25 - before a mini blizzard brought snow and icy roads to the valley.

If you found yourself asking, “where’s my toddy?” you weren’t alone.

We can’t avoid it any longer: Winter is here.

One of the best things about winter, in my opinion, is the drink menu.

Pale ales are replaced by stouts and porters. Red wine is purchased by the box. Those drinks made with the batters – I’m looking at you hot buttered rum – are everywhere and creamy liqueurs are in everything. And more often than not, it’s cold enough to simply reach for some whiskey. 

It’s lucky Montana winters are long, because there are a lot of choices – and a lot of opinions about what is the best adult drink to keep warm.

Need some guidance?

Whether you’re looking for a simple signature drink or a twist on an old favorite, we’ve compiled a survival guide list of all things adult drinks to help you say cheers to winter.

Top 5 adult liquids to help keep warm

• Whiskey

• Stout or porter beer

• Spiced Rum

• Red Wine

• Cream liqueur – Kahlua, Butte’s own Orphan Girl, Baileys, etc…

Top 5 drinking locations to help keep warm

• On a couch in a fleece robe/Snuggie with Netflix streaming.

• Forest Service cabin you skied to. This is Montana. Fill that back pack up with something that counts.

• By a fire someone else made. If you’re headed out to a cabin make sure you bring someone who can build a good fire (am I right ladies?). Staying in town? Think James Bar or The Keep.

• In an ugly sweater. Synthetic fiber blends are surprisingly cozy and always classy. Add a turtle neck just to be safe.

• Somewhere with someone you find attractive. So you can prolong the warmth.

Top 5 drinking must-haves to help keep warm

• Hot tea, coffee, cocoa mixers – something for every mood

• Mugs – hot drinks don’t belong in pint glasses

• Growler – A version of the grab and go concept which was most likely invented by someone who needed to stock up for winter

• Box of red wine – be environmentally responsible and be sure you won’t run out

• A full fifth of your favorite whiskey – it goes with everything

Top 5 beverage recipes to help keep warm

Hot Toddy – Why? “It’s so easy.”

Toddy with a ginger twist

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sliced ginger root
  • 4 to 6 cloves
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Honey  to taste
  • Rum, whatever you’re comfortable with

In a medium saucepan, add water, gingerroot slices and cloves. Squeeze lemon juice into the saucepan, adding lemon halves into the liquid. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to medium heat until liquid is bubbling. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes, until the mixture has reduced and has enough of a gingery taste to your liking. Strain, removing cloves, lemon halves and ginger from the liquid. Pour into two mugs. Add enough honey and rum to your tastes. Garnish with lemon slices, and serve. Serves 2.

-Courtesy of

Glogg/wasail/mulled wine – Why? “It’s like winter sangria.”

Traditional Glogg

  • 5 ounces brandy
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 ounce dried orange zest
  • 1 ounce cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cardamom seeds
  • 12 whole cloves
  • ½ pound blanched almonds
  • ½ pound raisins
  • ½ pound sugar

Pour wine into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Wrap orange zest, cinnamon sticks, cardamom and cloves in cheesecloth, tie with kitchen string and put into pot. Let boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in almonds and raisins and continue to boil for 15 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Place a wire grill over the pot and cover with sugar cubes. Slowly pour on brandy, making sure to completely saturate the sugar. Light sugar with a match and let it flame. When sugar has melted, cover pot with lid to extinguish flame.

Stir and remove spice bag. Serve hot in cups with a few almonds and raisin

-Adapted from

Coffee with homemade kahlua – Why? “It’s the richness.”

Homemade kahlua

  • 1 12-cup pot very strong coffee (chocolate flavored is best)
  • 2 pounds light brown sugar
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 bottle 190 proof Everclear or vodka of choice

Bring coffee to a boil in dutch oven or large pot. Gradually add light brown sugar and return to boil stirring constantly. Let cool until room temperature. When completely cool, add the vanilla and Everclear or vodka

- Adapted from

Hot Buttered Rum – Why? “It’s main ingredients are butter and brown sugar.”

Hot Buttered Rum batter

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • rum
  • water
  • nutmeg

Combine sugar, brown sugar and butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted (6-8 min). Combine cooked mixture with ice-cream in a large mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until smooth (1-2 min). Store refrigerated up to 2 weeks or frozen up to one month. For each serving, fill one-quarter of a mug with mixture, add one ounce rum and three-quarters of a cup of boiling water. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

 -Adapated from

Your favorite whiskey, neat. Why? “It starts the belly fire.”

Popular/cheap whiskeys

  • Maker’s Mark
  • Bullet
  • Jim Beam
  • Jack Daniel’s
  • Jameson
  • Crown Royal
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