Four Winter-Inspired Cocktails

Recipe & Photos by Andy Berndt, Venture Out Collective

 Four Winter-Inspired Cocktails


Hot Winter Cocktails
& Seasonally-Inspired Drinks

These winter-inspired cocktails are a perfect outdoor batch drink to make over a fire. Get a fire going, get some music playing, and gather your ingredients.




How to Make
A Smoked Tea Old Fashioned

Serving: 4 cocktails | Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 5 min | Total Time: 15 min



We start with lapsang souchong tea, a smoked Chinese tea. When you open the tea, the first thing you’ll smell is a campfire scent, and you’re not even there yet. (When you smell it, you think the tea would be a smoke bomb, but it’s actually the perfect amount.) It’s a subtle smokiness that’s very drinkable, regardless of your mood.

As the tea is steeping, add sugar, bitters, your favorite bourbon, and a Luxardo Cherry to bring it all together. We used High West Double Rye for a little extra spice and bite. If you’ve never had Luxardo Cherries, they are a special treat. They are vastly different from a typical maraschino cherry in your grocery store. They are not cheap, but they last a long time, and the flavor it adds to your cocktail will make you a believer.

For this recipe, we also went a step further with the smoke. After pouring the drink, we took an ember from the fire, laid it next to the drink, and put a bowl over it to perfume before serving.


  • 2.5 tablespoons Lapsang souchong tea 
  • 8 ounces of your favorite bourbon 
  • 6 ounces water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • Luxardo Cherry and orange peel for garnish
  • Bitters
  • Enamel Mugs
  • Wilderness Paring Knife
  • Enamel Teapot
        1. Put loose-leaf tea in a tea bag or use three bags in 6 oz of water and steep for six minutes. 
        2. Add bitters and sugar to the tea. 
        3. When the tea has finished steeping, take it out of the water and add the bourbon. 
        4. Garnish with a Luxardo Cherry and an orange peel.


          How to Make
          A Hot Cider Brandy Manhattan

          Serving: 4 cocktails | Prep Time: 5 min | Cook Time: 20 min | Total Time: 25 min



          This drink is as good as it sounds. It’s an easy one to make in batches and the perfect fall or winter hot cocktail. I've mixed this drink many times, and it’s always a hit. I think it works well because each component of the drink is derived from fruit; the brandy and vermouth from grapes pair so well with the cider and orange bitters. The charred apple garnish gives it a little smoke and depth.

          We used a small batch of brandy from Driftless Glen. It’s their five-year reserve, which makes it extra special. (You can certainly use the plastic jug; it’s still great.) Or get super fancy and use cognac. Whatever you use, this drink will definitely gather a crowd (fondue anyone?) and set the mood.


          • 8 ounces brandy
          • 4 ounces sweet vermouth
          • 6 ounces apple cider
          • 8 dashes orange bitters
          • Cinnamon sticks
          • One Apple to make garnish (preferably Braeburn or a less tart apple)
          • Enamel Mugs
          • Dutch Oven or Enamel Sauce Pot
          • Ladle
                1. Take an Enamel Saucepan or Cast Iron Dutch oven and warm it on the stove or the fire.
                2. Add all ingredients and warm your drink.
                3. Slice the apple into thin round slices and grill or simmer them in a pan.
                4. When your drink is your desired temperature (150 degrees is great for a hot drink), pour it into your glass and garnish it with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick.


                        How to Make
                        A Conifer-Infused Vodka Martini

                        Serving: 4 cocktails | Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 14-16 min | Total Time: 24-26 min



                        This martini is a really unique drink that may not seem delicious until you try it. The best way to describe the taste of this infused vodka is fresh gin. It has many of the same flavors as gin, but it tastes fresh squeezed and unpasteurized. It’s easy to make: add everything to a quart jar, add vodka, and let it sit for a few days.

                        You can tweak and play with the ingredients to your liking. You can make it more citrusy and herbaceous, depending on your preference. You can also tweak the length of maturation if you like a lighter or stronger flavor. The spruce you use will also impact the taste (whether it’s a more delicate flavor like spruce tips or a more earthy flavor like spruce clippings). Whatever you have access to is a good place to start, then experiment from there. Ginger would also be a fun botanical to add if you want to spice it up.

                        I chose to add a tonic to it, and the infusion shines. For the vodka, we used Tattersall from Minnesota because it embodies the spirit of the North, which suits this drink well. The infusion can stand up to anything you’d make with gin. It’s really versatile.


                        >>> Looking for more pine-infused drinks?
                        Check out this whiskey and pine cocktail.


                        • Spruce clippings or spruce tips, enough to fill up a quart mason jar
                        • 1 lime
                        • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
                        • 1 cinnamon stick
                        • 1-2 leaves of sage
                        • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
                        • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
                        • 1 tablespoon juniper berries 
                        • Half a 750ml bottle of vodka
                        • Enamel Mugs
                                1. Take the skin off the lime and add just the skin. (You can squeeze the lime in your drink later if you’d like.)
                                2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a quart jar and then fill it with vodka. It typically takes a little over a half bottle. 
                                3. Put a lid on your jar and let it sit in the refrigerator for four days. Taste after two days and three days, and see how the flavor changes. (If you think it’s perfect earlier, it’s ready! It’s not an exact science, more of a personal preference.)
                                4. To make your vodka tonic, fill your glass with 1.5 ounces of vodka on the rocks and then add your favorite tonic. 
                                5. Garnish with a lime and a spruce tip.


                                        How to Make
                                        A Swedish Glogg

                                        Serving: 4 cocktails | Prep Time: 5 min | Cook Time: 30 min | Total Time: 35 min



                                        Glogg is like mulled wine with spices and aquavit. It’s the definition of heartwarming. Glogg is a traditional Nordic drink made during winter, especially around Christmas. The smell is almost as intoxicating as the drink. It’ll fill your home or camp with the most inviting aromas; people will naturally gather once it’s ready. I tried this first without sugar thinking it would be too sweet, but it needs that sweetness, changing the mouthfeel from tannic to smooth. The aquavit adds flavor to this drink and makes it feel both foreign and comforting.


                                        • 2 bottles Pinot noir (2x750 ml)
                                        • ½ cup Aquavit
                                        • 2 tablespoons cloves
                                        • 5 tablespoons green cardamom pods
                                        • 4 inches cut up ginger
                                        • ½ cup raisins
                                        • ½ cup blanched almonds
                                        • 1 sliced orange
                                        • 1/3 cup sugar (up to a half cup, if preferred)
                                        • 2 cinnamon sticks
                                          • Enamel Mugs
                                          • Dutch Oven
                                          • Ladle or Chef Spoon
                                                  1. Add all ingredients to a saucepan or Dutch oven and warm over the stove or a campfire. Let it lightly simmer for 30 mins to let the flavors meld. Try not to bring it to a boil. 
                                                  2. This drink can sit warm for a while, and it only gets better with time. The perfect serving temperature is about 150 degrees.



                                                          Andy Berndt is a photographer living in St. Paul Minnesota. Never far from the water. Always planning the next adventure.


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