What's Your Go-To Warm Winter Cocktail? - Exclusive Survey

When the weather cools down, the mugs heat up. As December rapidly approaches, now is the time to experiment with all kinds of warm, winter cocktails. Granted, the holiday season is prime time to enjoy anything that comes hot, with or without booze. You can easily get creative with kid-friendly hot chocolate by adding vanilla bean or cinnamon à la Ina Garten's Food Network recipe. Or, experiment with the likes of whipped cream, various sweeteners, and even hazelnut. Any addition is sure to increase the complexity of your favorite chocolatey delight.

Yet for the most festive of holiday parties — not to mention those cold nights that require something a little stronger — a winter cocktail is your best bet. Even Insider agrees that the best wintery hot chocolate utilizes a bit of booze. When it comes to improving your cocoa, vanilla vodka or hazelnut liquor may very well change the game (via Food Network).

Clearly, hot chocolate is a winter classic that appeals to adults, kids, and Santa alike. However, the 601 people who responded to Tasting Table's latest survey placed hot chocolate in the middle of the rankings. Instead, Tasting Table readers favored a different cocktail. This drink of choice contradicts the flavors of winter and instead draws inspiration from autumn's key fruit.

Spiked cider isn't just for fall

Apple picking may be a trend of October, but as December dawns, the fruit continues its reign. More than 25% of those who responded to Tasting Table's latest survey favored spiked apple cider over other warm, winter cocktails. Appealing to 154 people, spiked cider tops the list of winter-worthy drinks. If you're making cider from scratch, you'll need apples, as well as spices like peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise (per Today, which published Ina Garten's spiked cider recipe). Add in some top-tier bourbon, and your favorite fall drink is ready for its winter coat. 

Next in the rankings were two drinks that swap out cider's fruit base for creamier consistencies. Irish coffee amassed 23.46% of the vote, with 141 people in favor of caffeine that comes with a twist. Meanwhile, spiked hot chocolate earned 122 votes, or the favor of 20.30% of people. To give your hot chocolate a boozier twist, try adding Baileys, amaretto, or the aforementioned vanilla liqueur. You have all month to experiment with your favorite combinations.

Spiked eggnog is a holiday classic

In the middle of the rankings was another winter classic: spiked eggnog, which received 91 votes. With 15.14% of the favor, eggnog has long been associated with Christmas. According to Time Magazine, eggnog first drew inspiration from a medieval drink known as posset. Monks later added eggs and figs to their posset, and the use of expensive ingredients — eggs, dairy, and sherry — came to symbolize good fortune and health. While these ingredients have since become commonplace, what better excuse to raise a glass of eggnog and toast to holiday prosperity?

As for the best alcohol to complement eggnog, Tasting Table readers previously rallied around rum. Rum also works well in hot toddies, which rounded off the list of rankings ahead of mulled wine. Hot toddies received 59 votes or 9.82% of the vote. Meanwhile, mulled wine curried the favor of 34 people. Nearly 6% of those surveyed favored the warm, spiced version of wine. Warm a batch at home to make your kitchen smell like Christmas, or head to the nearest holiday market for a taste of the season.