When it's cold enough to start cranking the Christmas carols, every San Franciscan should have at least two Irish Coffees on speed dial: The one from Tosca, and the one from Buena Vista. (Come on now, Scrooge your way through some tourists at least once.)
This said, our city's winter beverage wonderland is not all coffee, topped off with whiskey and cream. Some very talented bartenders are doing some very classy things with hot water and booze. Check out our latest favorites here—just in time for the cold snap.
1) Locanda's Gabriel Lowe makes a Shades of Gray cocktail, dressing up Earl Gray tea with Russell's Reserve Bourbon, Aperol, and spiced cherry syrup.
2) At Bar Agricole, Thad Vogler's favorite cold weather drink to add to the winter cocktail menu is the Hot Castle Dip. It's an old-style drink made with calvados, absinthe and fresh mint. Vogler describes it as "very aromatic and very wintry."
3) Joanne Weir doles out a mezcal-spiked Oaxacan hot chocolate at Copita in Sausalito. There's something about the smokiness of mezcal that blends with the nutty notes of liquified chocolate, way better than tequila would.
4) For the holidays, Elixir's H. Joseph Ehrman infuses Wild Turkey with cardamom, cranberries, and cinnamon. Then he makes the Kentucky Pilgrim cocktail by mixing the infused whiskey with hot water, lemon juice, maraschino, and demerara syrup. The finished product is hot and spicy, providing guaranteed warmth from the inside out.
5) The Hot Toddy is a winter staple at Blackbird, made with Evan Williams Single Barrel, Mightly Earl Grey tea, molasses, brown sugar, and vanilla bean paste. It's about as fancy as a hot toddy is going to get.
6) At Tradition, bartender Claire Sprouse makes a Borracha Abuelita with Espolon reposado tequila, chili-spiced hot chocolate and Mezcal-infused whipped cream. Yes, that name means "drunk grandma," which translates to a smokey, spicy, chocolately, and boozy libation that looks sweet and innocent on the outside.