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Winter booze for your winter blues: Spirits to lift your spirit this winter

Winter booze for your winter blues: Spirits to lift your spirit this winter

Melinda Green

The winter blues are about to get real. When the temperature falls, or when you get that first hint of maaaaybe coming down with a cold, what do you do to lift your spirits — figuratively and literally? One option is to go out for a nice, warm (or at least warming) adult beverage or two.

Now, we’re not advocating that you go out distributing the common cold at bars when you’re miserable and contagious. But when you get that first scratch in the back of your throat, before it turns into something, a hot toddy or cider can make you feel a little more right with the world. It might even help you kick that bug to the curb.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

And even if you’re not feeling under the weather physically, Ohio winters sure can usher in the blahs. It’s cloudy. It’s damp. It’s gray. It’s windy, and cold, and slushy. We can help, no matter what type of cocktail you like.

One sure re way to beat the winter blues is to light a nice, warm fire. The Light of Seven Matchsticks, in Worthington, takes it one further with their hot buttered rum. Sure, any bar can put together the requisite rum, butter, sugar, and spices. But how many of those bars set it on fire and toss it between mugs as it heats? The theatrics are as impressive as the drink, and you’re practically guaranteed to start feeling much better even before that first sip.

Or stop by The Crest, where they’ve pulled out all the stops for their winter menu. The season’s drinks are presented in a hardbound book, where beverage director Collin Minnis and artist Paula Jackson provide elegant descriptions, stories, and illustrations, sure to bring a smile to your face.

Ellie’s Drinking Chocolate has the warm, heady aroma and fiery bite of aged rum, combined with German chocolate, heavy cream, and a touch of sea salt. Luxe and velvety, garnished with a toasted marshmallow, this is your favorite childhood hot cocoa all grown up.


The Beekeeper Toddy is smoky and sophisticated, combining tequila and hibiscus mezcal with hot lapsang souchong tea and honey from The Crest’s own rooftop hives. The longer the tea steeps, the smokier and richer the flavor gets. As far as hot toddies go, this one stands in a league of its own Barrel & Taps, on Third Avenue in Grandview, has a more straightforward version, made with Earl Grey tea and the bar’s barrel pick of bourbon. At 120 proof, the liquor packs a punch, but it’s smooth. The bergamot and oak balance nicely with hints of honey, lemon, and cinnamon. This is one drink you might have to pace yourself on. Or order some food from the food truck outside and have two.

If tea’s not so much your thing, Barrel & Taps also has a warm apple cider, with clove, cinnamon, and your choice of bourbon. Made with the barrel pick, it’s de nitely alcoholic, but juicy and smooth, with the perfect level of spice and no unwelcome bite from the booze. You can substitute caramel vodka for the bourbon, too, if you’re looking for more sweetness in your cider. A warm caramel apple to chase the blues away? Sounds like a plan.

What if you don’t like hot drinks, though? Well, you’re in luck. Winter cocktails don’t have to be hot to warm the body and soul.

The Light of Seven Matchsticks has some fantastic new seasonal selections, including Bucking Fananas. From the first sip of this mix of Watershed bourbon, coffee-infused carpano, and banana liqueur, you’ll feel warmth spread throughout your body. Sure, bananas and coffee evoke the tropics, but this is less “toes in the sand” and more “sitting by a roaring re, dreaming of backpacking in Costa Rica, while sleet encases your car outside.”

They also serve the implausibly delicate Snack Pack, made with an infusion of the popular butterscotch treat. You heard that right: they infused butterscotch pudding into a drink. With cognac and a little straight-up vanilla extract, it’s cold, light, and sweet, like a crisp snowfall—that also tastes like butterscotch.

Denmark on High will bring back its popular Café Columbus, a mixture of cold-brew coffee, bourbon, vanilla nutmeg syrup, and amaretto whipped cream. Or try their barrel-rested Old Man Winter: Old Forester rye, Nocino, house-made vanilla liqueur, and a minty amaro.

And then, maybe you’re cozy enough in a sweater and scarf and just want something light and delicious for a dreary-day pick-me-up. Barrel & Taps’ Holiday Mule, full of gin, cranberry-orange simple, spices, and ginger beer, is a delightful clear-to-cranberry ombré and tastes like holiday cheer in a glass.

If none of these light your fire, there are plenty more seasonal beverages in nearly every corner of the city—so put on your coat and boots, go grab a drink, and chase those blues away!

Light of the Seven Matchsticks is located at 5601 N High St. in Worthington. The Crest has locations at 2855 Indianola Ave. in Clintonville and 621 Parsons Ave. downtown. Barrel & Taps is located at 1380 W 3rd Ave. in Grandview. Denmark on High is located at 463 N High St. in the Short North.


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