“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful” (Composed by Jule Styne & Lyricist Sammy Cahn)


When everything outside the window is covered in a layer of snow so thick that school is canceled, and you’re stuck inside all day except for when you have to bundle up like Randy from A Christmas Story to go outside and shovel, it’ll take a lot more than jaunty lyrics riding a catchy tune to cough up any cheer.

A well-made libation can make the difference between tackling the dreaded Snow Day with some sort of optimism and trying to bury yourself under a mound of blankets until spring. There’s just something about a crafted beverage that soothes the winter-worn soul on these days. Here are a few ideas, accompanied by some New England winter wisdom in case it helps.

“The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism, but February.”

– Joseph Wood Krutch

A great starting point is America’s oldest native distilled beverage, apple brandy. Known today as applejack, it’s been made since the colonists first came to the New World. Since wine and beer from England were both expensive and in short supply, many settlers hoped to make their own. Finding even the ingredients to be costly to import, they tried fermenting all sorts of local stuff. They found particular success with a crop that handled the harsh New England environment quite well—apples.

Applejack gets its name from apples, of course, but also from a freeze-distillation process known as jacking. Settlers crushed the fruit, and then fermented the juice into hard cider. During the cold months, the hard cider could then be stored in wooden barrels and left outside overnight. Some of the water content froze into ice and was removed in the morning, resulting in a beverage with a higher alcohol content. Sure, it also produced methanol, which is extremely dangerous, but the occasional bout of blindness or even death seemed to be a small price to pay for a tasty elixir that helped one cope with the brutal New England winters. (Modern brandy production techniques are different, and so they don’t have that issue.)

Apple brandy is delicious straight-up, or over ice, or warmed in tea. To really enjoy the appley-spicy flavors, concoct an Applejack Rabbit. First mentioned in Norman Hume Anthony’s 1927 bar tome Here’s How!, this cocktail mixes in fresh citrus juice and maple syrup for an energetic drink that will revitalize one’s spirit.

Applejack Rabbit

From www.liquor.com
Servings 1 cocktail


  • 2 ounces Liberty Tree’s New England Apple Brandy
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounces fresh orange juice
  • ½ ounces maple syrup


  • Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lemon peel twist if desired.

“There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger’s admiration—and regret.”

– Mark Twain

If something with a bit more oomph is needed to shake the chill off your mortal coil, reach for another homegrown spirit: rum. The production of this sugarcane- or molasses-based spirit in Massachusetts dates all the way back to the 17th century, when it was one of New England’s largest and most prosperous industries. While the first American rum distillery opened on Staten Island shortly before the emergence of the Massachusetts industry three years prior, it was New England’s metallurgy and cooperage (barrel-building) skills, as well as an abundance of lumber, that made Boston the center of the American rum industry for decades.

Rum has a rounder, milder personality than many spirits. That’s not to say it can’t pack a punch—some overproof rums come in at a whopping 150 proof. Most rums are significantly mellower, however, with gentle undertones and lovely toasty-sweet flavors. These are the rums to reach for in times of need.

Like apple brandy, aged rum is excellent over ice or neat in a tumbler. For maximum comfy, go for one of the best ways to enjoy rum in the winter and make hot buttered rum. The warming combination of rum, butter, and spices will do more for your state of mind than the Pats winning the Super Bowl. Almost.

Hot Buttered Rum

From www.thespruceeats.com
Servings 1 Males


  • 4 ounces hot water (not boiling)
  • 2 ounces Truro Vineyards Twenty Boat Rum
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 splash pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground allspice (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick for garnish (optional)


  • Put everything except the rum and water into a mug and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the rum and stir to blend. Then top with hot water and garnish with the cinnamon stick if using.

“I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!”

– William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom!

Absalom! Absalom! – 1936 William Faulkner, Random House

Despite feelings to the contrary, not every beverage has to be boozy to conquer the winter doldrums. For a warm and creamy drink with just the right amount of sweetness, look to northern Italy. Living in the shadows of the Alps teaches one a thing or two about warding off the cold.

Located a couple hours west of Milan, the city of Torino was Italy’s first political capital from 1861 to 1865, and also considered the country’s chocolate capital. Amongst the myriad shops offering hazelnut-loaded chocolates called gianduiotti are an equal number of small caffés serving what just may be your new favorite winter drink. Bicerin, pronounced “bee-chair-EEN,” is the Piemontese word for the small glasses it is traditionally served in.

This delicious hot beverage is a magnificent blend of equal parts espresso, drinking chocolate, and whipped cream. Layered in a glass mug, it’s as beautiful to behold as it is delicious to consume. The secret to making a bicerin is creating those distinct layers. If you mix the coffee and hot chocolate you’ve made a mocha. Make sure to use high-quality espresso or intense coffee. The better the beans, the better the bicerin.


From www.eataly.com
Servings 2


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream chilled
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate grated
  • 2 shots of hot Speedwell Coffee espresso divided


  • Using a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat until nearly simmering. Don’t let it come to a boil. Add the chocolate and whisk until fully incorporated and the mixture starts to thicken a little bit. In a heat-proof glass mug, pour in a layer of hot chocolate. Pour a shot of espresso over the back of a spoon over the hot chocolate to form the second layer. Gently top with whipped cream for the third layer and serve.