Warm Bourbon Is The Bedtime Nightcap You've Been Needing

Imagine a tasty, boozy beverage, and odds are it's icy cold — like a frozen margarita or perfectly poured beer. Sure, some drinks like wine and spirits are served at room temperature, too, but hot and alcoholic is a combination that's a little less common. Most renditions of the style are more akin to boozy tea and coffee, such as Irish coffee.

But take out the caffeine, and you can make a perfect alcoholic nightcap by experimenting with a tea-like structure and brewing up a bourbon-based hot beverage. The liquor's range of notes — such as sweet, spicy, woody, and floral — will blossom when warmed, especially when paired with other ingredients. Riff off the age-old hot toddy formula by mixing it with lemon and honey, or even use apple cider as a base. It's worth experimenting with the ratio, sweetness, and garnish, as each element can drastically change the result. And when the ingredients are melded perfectly, the drink is soothing, perfectly calming the senses on a chilly winter night. Let's look at what might make go into the bedtime drink.

Warm up bourbon alongside aromatics for a flavorful sipper

Selecting the ideal bourbon for a toddy or other warm beverage necessitates a balance; its flavors should be bold enough to withstand gentle heating but not overpowering. So save some of the complex, top-shelf sippers and instead opt for classic bourbon brands. Well-regarded versions like Bulleit and Makers Mark offer sweet, straightforward tastes that will retain a likable palate once heated.

Next come the infused aromatics. Honey and lemon are the perfect starting point, their flavors aligning with the bourbon and adding an extra soothing quality. Don't toss out the citrus peel – orange or lemon rind will add an aromatic finish. This garnish on the top contributes to the wafted nose of the drink. As well as citrus peel, you could garnish the drink with whole spices, like a cinnamon stick, clove or two, or star anise. Even a dried pepper works, which can be added whole if feeling spicy, or infused into a simple syrup.

While adding your alcohol to a dose of boiled water is the most common toddy formula, you can simply serve the warmed bourbon drink as a shot. You don't want the alcohol overheated or you'll spoil the flavor. In Bulgaria, rakia — a type of brandy — is heated alongside black pepper, honey, and cinnamon for straight consumption to ward off winter viruses. So feel free to experiment with the formula to craft a drink that's the perfect end to a winter's evening.