Houston's Best Hot Toddies Are a Reason to Love Winter

Where to score Houston's coolest hot cocktails

Houstonians have a love/hate relationship with winter. We love the relative respite from our typical swelter, but we moan bitterly anytime the mercury drops below about 65.

We also secretly love it, because it allows us to pretend we have seasons. We relish the excuse to don our long-ignored sweaters, light the fire pit we probably shouldn't even own and find something warming to drink. Houston bars and restaurants are all too happy to oblige, breaking out seasonal specials tuned to the delusion that it's actually cold. It's not. We don't care. We'll take our 45 degrees with a side of Irish coffee, thank you very much, and forget about the fact that the temp will double six months from now.

Wooster's Garden

What's hot: An entire dang hot toddy menu

Wooster's Garden has the whole indoor/outdoor thing nailed. The interior space blends smoothly onto the patio, with its mix of long communal tables and semi-secluded alcoves. Knowing its Houston audience well, Wooster's outfits each table with a charming little heater, flames leaping from a bed of river stones as jacketed Texans pretend they're not cold. You can get extra warm with one of Wooster's many toddies, serving everything from gin to bourbon to Macedonian red wine in warming combos that suit any palate. 

Better Luck Tomorrow

What's hot: Irish coffee 

An import from Bobby Heugel's flagship Anvil Bar and Refuge, the Irish coffee at Better Luck Tomorrow is a meticulously crafted ode to an often-slapdash cocktail. As with all things Heugel, every element of this drink (this version credited to local bartending star Alex Negranza) has been tweaked and fine-tuned to near scientifically calibrated tolerances. It's creamy and warming and wonderful, and at BLT, you can enjoy it alongside food from James Beard Award winner Justin Yu (formerly Oxheart, currently Theodore Rex). Under the warming glow of BLT's neon, it's Houston winter in fine form.

Brasil

What's hot: The Hot Abuelita

Brasil has long been a beloved neighborhood haunt but only recently added a full bar to its many charms. Headed by veteran barman David Cedeno, the trim list includes a brace of classics, augmented by Latin twists inspired by Cedeno's Puerto Rican heritage. Like the Hot Abuelita, or cocoa with kick. Crafting the drink after café de olla, Cedeno takes Abuelita chocolate, a beloved Mexican brand of prepared drinking chocolate, and heats it with milk, Becherovka and allspice dram for spice notes, topping the whole thing with a roast marshmallow. Sip it slowly on Brasil's covered patio, while you watch Montrosians shuffle past, shivering.

Nobie's

What's hot: Oaxacan drinking cocoa

Nobie's is about as comforting as neighborhood joints get, yet it never lets that comfort get lazy. Bar manager Sarah Troxell's very adult take on hot chocolate is no different. The drink starts with a dark chocolate base and ramps up with a dose of rum. A spicy trifecta of cinnamon, Ancho Reyes chile liqueuer and pasilla chile keep the heat coming, and Austin import Cafecito coffee liqueur adds its own caffeinated kick.

The Pass & Provisions

What's hot: The Lanterne Rouge, large-format glühwein and mulled cider

The Pass & Provisions is one of the city's most ambitious restaurants, and the bar keeps pace with the kitchen. Whether drinking at the minimalist bar itself on the warm, casually modern Provisions side, or splashing out at The Pass, there's a finely crafted winter warmer with your name on it. You can find the Lanterne Rouge (applejack, Bénédictine, coffee and cherry whipped cream) on Provisions' brunch menu (available off-menu at dinner) and served alongside a dessert course on The Pass' elaborate tasting menu. If you want to share boozy body warmth with a group, the bar also puts out large-format versions of spicy, mulled glühwein and mulled cider when it's particularly chilly.

Nicholas L. Hall is a freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @nhallfreelance