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Raise your spirits this winter with toasty cocktails

Everything you need to know about winter cocktails in Philly.

Find inventive winter cocktails such as the Olde Bar G+T at The Olde Bar.
Find inventive winter cocktails such as the Olde Bar G+T at The Olde Bar.Read moreCourtesy of The Olde Bar

Star anise, cinnamon and cranberry with splashes of whiskey or gin are the chameleonic ingredients Damián Langarica and the team uses to craft an array of cozy cocktails worth leaving the comfort of home.

For the bartender at the Rittenhouse Square cocktail bar, the key to making a solid winter cocktail is playing around with seasonal spices and herbs. At Forsythia in Old City, Shawn Miller finds wood-aged spirits that incorporate alpine flavors and warming spices inherently suited to creating indulgent drinks that evoke nostalgia of the season.

To help you savor the winter with a noteworthy drink in hand, we tap Philly’s top bartenders for their takes on libations that fight off Jack Frost’s chill.

An earthy Gimlet with a herbaceous kick will make you wonder What Kind of Place Is This?!, one of’s signature drinks made with Dutch gin shaken with cranberry, black pepper, a fino or dry sherry, honey, sage, lemon and herby centerbe, an aromatic style of central Italian liqueur. And if falling leaves and flannel are your winter vibe (cue Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well,” the 10-minute version), then My Life is a Lie is all yours. It’s a vieux carre riff, complete with rye whiskey, benedictine, Peychaud’s bitters and stirred with maple, verjus, cinnamon, apple and pommeau. Both drinks are $16.

📍 1737 Walnut Street NE Corner, 📞 215-825-7035, 🌐, 📷 a.barphilly

At first sip, the Open Sesame greets you with a spiciness from the local Kinsey rye whiskey within. Then hints of nutty earthiness from the sesame oil hit, followed by the taste of cinnamon. Daniel Miller, Martha’s beverage manager, also adds maple and hot water to create this $12 hot toddy. He suggests savoring it in the heated outdoor seating area.

📍2113 E York St., 📞 215-867-8881, 🌐, 📷 marthakensington

» READ MORE: This $20 cabernet has quality written on the label

What do you get when you mix gin, cranberry, rosemary cordial, sibona (a spicy, herby, citrusy amaro), and kefir? You get the smooth, creamy, herbal Cran Drescher — like Fran Drescher, the iconic nanny. The $16 cocktail is topped off with a torched rosemary sprig for a smoky finish. If you’re a bourbon drinker, then the Harvest Old Fashioned is the way to go, with pumpkin-infused bourbon, vanilla-sage simple, cardamom bitter, and Vietnamese cinnamon. The Licorice Pizza, meanwhile, combines fennel and thyme-infused mezcal with anise-inflected Pernod, Rothman & Winter pear liqueur and sparkling wine. No matter which cocktail you choose, expect to pay $16.

📍233 Chestnut St., 📞 215 -644 -9395, 🌐, 📷 forsythia_philly

A holiday twist to your classic gin and tonic, the Olde Bar G+T gives you a cool drink with a little lingering heat from the canella (Mexican cinnamon) and the pink peppercorn-spiced quinine syrup ( derived from a Peruvian shrub) for $14. The Good Morning Chief, a creamy, spiced bourbon concoction served in a coupe glass features house-made blackberry sage syrup plus bittersweet, citrusy amaro Averna for a taste of holiday spice, while lemon and egg whites lend a bright, creamy finish. Sip on that for $16.

📍126 Walnut St., 📞 215-253-3777, 🌐, 📷 theoldebarphl

Juicy and slightly boozy, the Mezcal Junglebird is a tart winter fruit drink. Mezcal and brand bring a smoky, spicy vibe, while gentian amaro adds fruity, crisp bitterness. Housemade concord grape manischewitz-grenadine, pineapple and lime juice, and hibiscus tea round out the drink’s fruitiness. For a light and refreshing sipper, the Sake Highball is a slightly floral and balanced cocktail. Vodka, pear sake, two different vermouths, rosemary and lemon juice are clarified with oat milk for body and a silky texture, later the mix is carbonated with citrus tisane, an herbal infused drink. Get both drinks for $13.

📍1232 N Front St., 📞 267-858-4325, 🌐, 📷 middlechildclubhouse

R&D’s Egg Nog is best described as a boozy iced cinnamon bun served in a Nick and Nora glass. With rye whiskey, genever, brown butter, cinnamon, heavy cream and hand-whipped eggs, it’s a fluffy, cinnamon-driven cocktail for $15. If you’re craving an after dinner drink, A Visit From St. Nicholas is the way to go, for $16. Mimicking an espresso martini in flavor, this spirit-forward sipper starts off Japanese whiskey as the base, with bitterness from rabarbaro (a rhubarb-based amaro), notes of star anise from Don Ciccio Concerto liqueur and aromatics from chai demerara syrup.

📍1206 Frankford Ave., 🌐, 📷 rd_philly