’Tis the Season: Twists on wassail, hot buttered rum, and Irish coffee warm up spirits around town


The weather outside may be frightful, but the hot cocktails hitting drink menus around town are sure delightful. 

Irish coffees and hot toddies are standard fare during the winter months, for good reason, and some local mixologists have put their own spin on these warm classics. Think mulled wine with brandy, a hot Mexican chocolate with Kahlua and tequila, and apple cider with spiced rum. 

Recently, the Anchorage in the Village of West Greenville hosted a warm cocktails class for local bar staff with Peter Vestinos of The Country Vintner of S.C.  

“Everyone wants hot drinks when the weather turns,” Vestinos says. “But logistics are a challenge.” 

During the class, he presented a traditional Irish coffee, a hot buttered rum, and a Tom and Jerry. 

“It’s a good way to introduce spirits to people who may have shied away from them,” he says. 

Vestinos says Irish coffees are misunderstood — the whiskey is supposed to be the most predominant flavor instead of the sugar, and a thick layer of cream, rather than whipped cream, rests on top. Hot buttered rums can make great gifts, since the combination of butter, spices, and sugar are shelf-stable, he says, and a Tom and Jerry (devised by British journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s) is as festive as eggnog, only lighter and warmer with brandy and rum. 

As for logistics, Vestinos says the key is to make sure everything stays warm by setting up air pots properly so the water or coffee stays hot. Paying special attention to the timing so that each step moves along quickly and cutting back on the alcohol are also important. 

“[Guests] don’t need to plow through a giant glass of rum,” Vestinos says.  

Instead, view the drinks as warmers when guests come in from the cold. 

“Serve them something warm,” he says. “A quick nip — not a big creamy drink that destroys the palate.”  

So, without further ado, here are a few notable hot cocktails around town making spirits bright. 


The Bohemian Café

Morgan’s Hot Cider  

Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, cinnamon simple syrup, and apple cider, garnished with an orange slice and cinnamon stick 

Crafted at NOSE DIVE 
(mixologist Walker Pickering) 

Hot Buttered Rum 

Made with Zaya rum, water, butter, cinnamon, clove, and sugar 

(mixologist Zachary Calfee) 

Roost Irish Coffee 

West End Coffee Roasters dark roast coffee, Jameson Irish whiskey, and brown sugar syrup, topped with peppermint, chocolate, and coffee liquor whipped cream with nutmeg shavings 

Stella’s Southern Brasserie  

Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate  

Happy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, equal parts gold tequila and Kahlua, and Mexican chocolate spices, topped with cayenne and a toasted house-made marshmallow 

Twist on an Irish coffee  

Bailey’s Irish Cream, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and Frangelico

Vault & Vator
(mixologist Jeni Fletcher) 

Red Ryder 

Mulled burgundy wine, cranberries, orange zest, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, maple syrup, and Copper & Kings Butchertown Brandy 

Carolina Coffee  

Ninja Warrior coffee, Six and Twenty Whiskey, and Happy Cow Creamery cream 


DIY Spiked Hot Chocolate
Feliz Choclidad – from the Anchorage

For the chocolate base
3 tbsp. Dutch dark cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 ancho chili
5 oz. 68% dark chocolate
1 tbsp. raw sugar
Heat the milk, cream, chili, and sugar in a saucepot until temperature reaches 200 degrees. Add the cocoa powder and bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and mix until emulsified. Strain. Keep warm.

For the garnish
Zest of Satsuma
Cinnamon stick, grated
Cover as desired.

For the whipped cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. Satsuma juice
(sub orange if not available)
1 tbsp. raw sugar
Add all ingredients together and whip
to soft peaks. If available, charge in an
iSi with two N0. 2 chargers.

For the drink
1 oz. Espolon Blanco Tequila
.25 oz. Cointreau
Pour your liquor in each mug. Top with hot chocolate mixture and stir. Foam or dollop cream on top, and grate garnish as desired.



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