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What's Up Magazine

Spicy Libations

Nov 12, 2013 04:33PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Kimberly Cooper

November is cold. That’s really all there is to it. The need for winter coats and sweaters pops up and the interest in downing a cold beer seems to wane. People instead turn to things that will warm them from the inside out. There has to be some way to get rid of that bone-chilling, drafty feeling. And so, we turn to spiced cocktails. Elements of spice provide a warming quality, something to break through the start of cold season. Ingredients such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves, or ginger cut through the chill. They might almost make one forget winter has descended onto the region. Almost.


Ginger is one way to inject a nice note of spice into cocktails. It’s warm, comforting almost, with just a kick of heat to it. A few fresh pieces of ginger grated into a cocktail will give it a great twang, a nip of spiciness. But consider the simplicity of ginger simple syrup. Grab two knobs of fresh ginger and peel them with a potato peeler, then cut it into rounds. Over the stove, combine two cups of sugar and two cups of water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the ginger, then cool to a simmer.

Remove it from the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes then strain out the ginger. Let it cool and you’ll have fresh, spicy ginger simple syrup on hand for any number of spicy, sweet fall cocktails.

Try a ginger sour: Combine 1 1/2 ounces of vodka, 3/4 ounces ginger simple syrup, and 3/4 ounces lemon juice in an ice-filled high ball glass. Stir to combine.


There is something about cinnamon that just screams fall. The scent of it alone brings up memories of leaf piles, pumpkins, and Thanksgiving. It is a comforting scent, perfect for incorporating into cocktails during the fall months. There are a few ways to blend cinnamon into your libations. It pairs well, of course, with anything apple-flavored. But for something unexpected, add a heavy pinch to a steaming cup of coffee liquor-spiked hot chocolate. Consider it a Mexican hot chocolate. Garnish it with a fresh cinnamon stick for an extra touch.


Spiced rum is a great addition to fall cocktails. It has hints of everything that really makes a cocktail taste like autumn in a glass. Allspice, cloves, and a touch of vanilla give spiced rum a great little zing. It tastes especially nice in fall sangria. Since the temperatures drop, heavy cocktails with a warming hint are always a great choice. Use a semi-dry red wine and some luscious oranges, plus a generous splash of spiced rum. It will warm you right to the bone.