I spent the better part of the past weekend changing over my closet, which meant putting away the billowy light cottons, the lightweight linen and all my lovely, lovely sleeveless shifts and sundresses in favor of an array of sweaters that range from t-shirt weight to arctic.
It all got me to thinking: Time to change over the cooling cocktails of summer for some drinks meant to warm as well as refresh. That means giving in to the dark side—whiskies, bourbons, and cognacs—are the perfect accessory for sweater weather.
Now I can already see y’all screwing up your faces, talking about how dark spirits are bitter, or they taste like medicine or you just never liked them.
I’m saying, give them another chance, but this time start by trying a few cocktails that use dark spirits as the base, mixed with something a bit sweeter for balance. You may never reach Fitzgerald Grant-levels of downing glass after glass of straight whisky, and really, the way he does it is not a good look.
A good place to start down the dark road is with one of my all-time favorites, order one on your next night out this fall.
It’s not just because of its beautiful golden color and perfect balance of sweet (Cointreau), tart citrus (lemon juice) and the deep and strong (brandy), that makes this cocktail a favorite. It’s because it’s a bit of a shape shifter. It goes down cold and refreshing but just give it a second and you’ll be rewarded with a gentle but insistent wave of warmth rising from your breast bone and back up towards your chin. It’s like your own secret summer on a cold night. Bonus: it’s served in a martini glass so it looks stylin’.
This classic, which was born during Prohibition is easy enough to make at home. I favor cocktail historian Dave Wondrich’s recipe:
¾ ounce Cointreau
¾ ounce lemon juice
1 ½ ounce cognac
Place in cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass that has had its outside rim rubbed with lemon juice and dipped in sugar.