By Dani Frank

Blankets are comforting and a seat in front of the hearth is cozy, but for the chill of a Connecticut winter night, sometimes a little more heat is necessary to take the edge off. To get your internal body temperature going, a warm libation is just what you’re looking for. Paul Rich, an expert on all things intoxicating, has served more than a few warm mugs of alcohol-infused delicacies in his 16 plus years as a bartender, manager and bar owner, and he is generous enough with his knowledge to keep you thirsty readers sated.

Rich has toured the coastline from Florida to Connecticut, and more, serving every position a bar is fit to hold. As the owner and operator of S.M.A.R.T. Bartending School, Rich has taught 29,000+ people the ins and outs of pouring, lacing muddling and more. For a lesson in how to keep warm, fix one of Rich’s cool concoctions, courtesy of these his easy-to-follow recipes and you’ll be an amateur mixologist in no time. And if the event of a night out on the town is more important than saving a few dollars, check out these Connecticut taverns and bars for an equally tasty, toasty treat.

The Hot Apple Pie

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2 ounces Tuaca
Hot apple cider
Whipped Cream
Cinnamon stick (garnish)

Grab a sturdy Irish coffee glass with a handle for the preparation of this drink. Rich advises the drink can be enjoyed hot or cold, and is an all-around tasty drink any time of year. “Tuaca is an Italian liquer with citrus and vanilla flavors,” said Rich, “and combined with apple cider it makes a really comfortable, relaxing drink.”  Begin your apple pie by pouring a shot of Tuaca into the glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with hot apple cider, and top with whipped cream, piled as high as you please. Garnish with a cinnamon stick to expand upon the cider flavor.

Stop into Waterbury’s Good News Café and take a seat at their newly expanded bar. The cozy café is warmly decorated with soft yellow walls, and the perfect scene to indulge in a cold weather treat: hot mulled cider. Tasteful murals lend an artistic ambience to the quaint eatery. Combat the cold of the changing seasons with a hallmark of Fall and Winter, the spicy-sweet taste of apple cider.


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1 and ½ ounces Irish whiskey or rum
½ ounce Frangelico
½ ounce Bailey’s Irish cream
Hot coffee
Dollop of Grand Marnier
Whipped Cream

When discussing the blizzard, Rich offers the sage advice that, “A blizzard is the perfect mix to sip on by the fire after a coming in from the bitter winter chill.” Ease the pain of snow shoveling or a chilly walk to your car after work with this creamy concoction. In a glass coffee mug, stir one and a half shots of Irish whiskey, a half shot of Frangelico and half of a shot of Bailey’s together. Top the drink with coffee, and a small amount of Grand Marnier. Serve with a topping of whipped cream.

Order a drink that is the same mixture of half creamy and half hearty, at New Haven’s Geronimo Tequila Bar. The Southwest grill offers up a Chee-Hash-Kish that will keep you warm and wake up all of your senses, with coffee, Kahlua, Patron and Bailey’s to take your mind off of the arctic chill outdoors. Keep warm by the restaurant’s adobe fireplace, and the idea that you are actually enjoying an after dinner drink in Texas, rather than frosty Connecticut, will be a bit more believable.

Cuppa Good Cheer

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1.5 ounces Skyy Infusions Cherry Vodka
0.5 ounces white crème de cacao
4 ounces hot cocoa
1 ounce half and half
Whipped cream
Red sprinkles
Maraschino cherry

While this drink may require more ingredients than most, Rich insists it is easy to make, yielding a delicious, nostalgia-inducing mixture. “Cuppa good cheer has a really great flavor and look that bring back childhood memories of snuggling up with a cup of cocoa,” said Rich. “But now you can enjoy your coco with a grown-up taste.” Combine all of your ingredients, beginning with the shot and a half of vodka and half a shot of crème de cacao, in a mug or Irish Coffee glass. Top with your desired amount of whipped cream, red sprinkles, and a maraschino drink, for a mature take on a timeless warming drink.

Nouveau-American Dragonfly Restaurant and Lounge serves up just the drink to kick in some childhood nostalgia, with the Essence of Cocoa. Starting with every child’s favorite elixir, hot chocolate, Dragonfly packs a punch, with the Jamaican coffee liquer Tia Maria and some Godiva Dutch Chocolate Vodka. Between the transformative powers of the rich cocoa and the indulgent Godiva Dutch Chocolate vodka, Dragonfly’s drink may yield a trip down memory lane to winters past.

Sano Grog

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1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce dark rum
½ ounce Grand Marnier
½ teaspoon superfine sugar
1 thin wheel of lemon
3 or 4 ounces of boiling water

“This is a hearty and warm drink, yet a departure from ‘holiday’ flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg,” stresses Rich. “If you are saying to yourself, “I’m cold, and I’d like a warm drink, but nothing too fancy,” this is the drink for you.” The rich flavor of the bourbon and dark rum mixed with the lemon and orange flavor of Grand Marnier will be a sweet and sumptuous treat for keeping warm. Combine all of your ingredients, beginning with the half shot of bourbon and half shot of dark rum, in an Irish Coffee glass. Sip until you’ve defrosted and venturing into the outdoors is a little more tolerable.

While you may be hard-pressed to find sano grog served in Connecticut, take note restaurateurs, the Dish Bar & Grill in Hartford offers an assortment of after-dinner drinks, from Bailey’s to eight varieties of bourbon. The modern interior, a combination of sleek walls and geometric décor, lends itself to a high-class night out. After enjoying a steak cooked to perfection, sip some bourbon or Grand Marnier until you need to be wheeled home.

Dani Frank is a fashion, travel and culture enthusiast and writer living in Easton, Connecticut. A recent graduate of Hofstra University, she is most happy when traversing the East Coast and beyond and documenting it all for curious readers. Read her further work at here.


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