Winter Warmers

Our favorite cocktails (hot and cold) to take the edge off the season’s chilly nights

Last year, for the premiere of A Holiday Revue, we partnered with legendary Portland mixologist Lucy Brennan of Mint & 820 to create a signature cocktail for the performances and to share with us her tips for holiday cocktail fun – from her favorite winter recipes to her guide to the ultimate well-stocked home bar.  A native of London, Lucy has been serving up Portland’s most innovative cocktails since she moved to town in 1994 and opened Mint in 2001.  With shelves of awards and accolades, she’s been ranked as one of the nation’s top mixologists by everyone from Playboy to Food & Wine.  All the recipes below, and many more, can be found in Lucy’s book Hip Sips: Modern Cocktails to Raise Your Spirits.  (Does OBT blogger Claire Willett have a copy of this book on her desk right now?  Yes, she does.)

This year we’ll be teaming up with two new cocktail partners, Ringside and Teardrop Lounge, to feature their signature cocktails at our performances of A Holiday Revue!  Stay tuned for more details!


Buy your tickets here!


What’s the ultimate holiday cocktail?
“The must-have for the holiday season is a nice bottle of bubbly,” says Lucy, “either a good sparkling wine like Argyle, or a champagne.  For me, when I think of holiday cocktails, the number one that I think of is the champagne cocktail.  It’s classic and festive.  The Mirrorball is a drink I invented for New Year’s.  It’s a cosmo with watermelon-infused vodka that’s finished with champagne.  Nothing says New Year’s like champagne!”

Lucy BrennanWhat’s popular at Mint/820 this time of year?
The Bella is one of Lucy’s signature cocktails, a blackberry-infused lemon drop named for her dog.  “People love the color of it,” she says.  “It’s very festive.”  The Absolut Mission is a blend of vanilla vodka and ruby port with fig puree.  “When you think of fig and vanilla together, it’s a very wintry combination, perfect at this time of year.”

What are your recommendations for warm beverages to take the chill off wintry nights?
Hot toddies are very popular in the wintertime.  And Spanish Coffee is very Christmassy, especially for Portland.  You could even put a twist on it and make a Tuaca Spanish Coffee.  I’m a big fan of Irish Coffee too.  One of our house drinks which is really popular in winter is the Sweet Love. Also, it’s not a hot drink, but my Irish Stout Sangria is delicious for winter, and very warming.  To me, stout is a really full wintry drink, and the port finishes it off all smooth and velvety.  It’s a great winter cocktail.”


Entertaining at home this holiday season?  We asked Lucy for her recommendations to keep your bar party-ready year-round!

Maker’s Mark bourbon, Cascade Mountain gin (a local distillery in Bend), Barbancourt Three Star rum, Sauza Hornitos tequila, and Monopolowa vodka (her recommendation if you’re infusing or flavoring vodka at home).

Black Maple Hill 14-year-old bourbon, Boodles (Lucy’s personal favorite gin), Nocello (a walnut-flavored liqueur), Don Eduardo Silver tequila, and Johnnie Walker Gold Label Scotch whiskey (Lucy likes it chilled and served with chocolate truffles for dessert).

Tempered pint glasses for muddling and mixing, Cerignola olives (the ultimate olive for the martini snob in your life), simple syrup, fresh citrus fruit, and a vegetable peeler to make the perfect garnish.

Not sure whether your local liquor store carries what you’re looking for?  Check before you go!  If you live in Oregon and you’re over 21, go to to browse exactly what’s in stock at any liquor store in the state.  Whether you need to track down 12 bottles of champagne for your New Year’s party or do a price comparison of vanilla vodkas to get the best deal, this site will have the information you need.


 Tickets to A Holiday RevueIt’s the perfect gift – there’s nothing to wrap and they won’t want to return it.  Plus we’ll be featuring signature cocktails created by bartenders from Ringside and Teardrop Lounge (and you can bring your drink into the theater with you) along with special pre-show “Meet the Bartender” happy hour events!  Stay tuned for more details.

Vintage barware and glassware.  Browse your local antique store or check out Shop Vintage Portland for ideas!  (OBT staff recommends Found on NE Fremont.)

Lucy’s Hip Sips cocktail recipe book.  Buy it at Powells or Amazon, or use it as an excuse to go to Mint and sample the recipes yourself!

Flasks.  The hip flask is enjoying a comeback these days, and witty Portland artist Jen Woffinden makes some of the best in town.  They’re available both on Etsy and at Portland boutiques like Redux on E. Burnside, another OBT staff favorite.

Local beer, wine or liquor.  “If we can support as many local distilleries as possible, I’m in favor of that,” says Lucy, who loves to use local product in her seasonal concoctions.

Private mixology classes with Lucy at Mint (available for groups of 8 and up for $75 per person)


1 sugar cube
4 dashes Angostura bitters
3 oz dry Champagne
1 lemon twist for garnish

Sprinkle all sides of the sugar cube with the bitters.  Add the champagne gradually to prevent bubbling over.  Garnish with the lemon twist and serve immediately.

Cocktail ice cubes for chilling and shaking
2 oz watermelon-infused vodka (Lucy makes her own)
¼ oz Harlequin orange liqueur
1 oz fresh lemon-lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
Splash of cranberry juice
1 oz Champagne

Fill a tempered pint glass with ice and add the vodka, liqueur, lemon-lime juice, simple syrup, and cranberry juice.  Cap the glass with a stainless-steel cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for ten seconds.  Strain the drink into a 10-oz martini glass.  Top with champagne.  Serve immediately. 

Cocktail ice cubes for chilling and shaking
2 oz Monopolowa vodka
¼ oz Harlequin orange liqueur
1 oz fresh lemon-lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 tblsp blackberry puree
Lollipop Rim (see below)
1 blackberry Berry Pick (2 ripe berries on a skewer or toothpick) for garnish

Fill a tempered pint glass with ice and vodka, liqueur, lemon-lime juice, simple syrup, and blackberry puree.  Cap the glass with a stainless-steel cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.  Strain the drink into a 10-oz martini glass garnished with a lollipop rim and the berry pick.  Serve immediately.

Lollipop Rim:
1 cup baker’s sugar
1 orange or lemon wedge

Put the sugar in a moderately deep, wide-mouthed bowl.  (This technique works best on 10 oz. martini glasses.)  Make a deep slice down the center flesh of the citrus wedge, slightly squeeze to release juice.  Put slice on rim of glass, and, holding glass upside down, rotate wedge around glass to coat rim with juice.  When finished, insert about a quarter of the lip of the glass 2 inches into sugar.  Quickly spin stem to coat entire rim with sugar.  Lift glass from sugar, holding upside down, and tap the bottom to release excess sugar. 

Cocktail ice cubes for chilling and shaking
2 oz Absolute Vanilla vodka
½ oz ruby port
2 tblsp fig puree (see below)
½ oz fresh lemon-lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 edible flower or sliced fig for garnish

Fill a 5-oz martini glass with ice and set aside to chill.  Fill a tempered pint glass with ice and add the vodka, port, fig puree, lemon-lime juice, and simple syrup.  Cap the glass with a stainless-steel shaker and shake vigorously for ten seconds.  Empty the ice from the martini glass.  Strain into the chilled glass and garnish.  Serve immediately. 

Fig Puree:
2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and halved
1 tblsp baker’s sugar
2 tsp water
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in blender.  Pulse until completely chopped, then puree until smooth.  Add more sugar or lemon juice to taste.  Makes 1 cup.  Will freeze for up to 6 months.

1 sugar cube
1 oz Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey
3 oz strong hot coffee
2 tblsp fresh whipped cream for garnish

Fill a footed coffee mug with hot water and let the glass heat thoroughly.  Pour out the hot water and put the sugar cube in the glass.  Add the Bushmills and coffee.  Dollop the whipped cream on top of the drink.  Lay two straws across the top of the drink and serve at once.

1 oz Kahlua liqueur
1 oz Cruzan banana rum
3 oz strong hot coffee
2 heaping tblsp fresh whipped cream
Mexican chocolate shavings for garnish

Put Kahlua and rum into 12-oz heat-resistant wineglass.  Add coffee, leaving 1-inch space at top of glass.  Add whipped cream and a generous amount of chocolate shavings.  Lay 2 long drinking straws across the top of the glass.  (Hold by the stem when serving.)

1 bottle (16 oz) Murphy’s Irish Stout
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz ruby port
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon

In a chilled pint glass, combine 12 oz of the stout and the simple syrup.  Allow stout to settle, then add port.  Gently stir three times with a bar spoon to mix ingredients.  Top with remaining stout and allow the drink to settle for 30 seconds.  Garnish with nutmeg and cinnamon.  Serve immediately.

 *  *  *  

All of these delicious cocktails would be perfect additions to the bar menu for all your upcoming entertaining events (Thanksgiving dinner?  Office holiday party?  New Year’s Eve open house?), but we also recommend mixing one up for yourself to unwind on the couch after a long day of work/cooking/cleaning/shopping/errands/chasing kids around the house/dealing with family/whatever else stresses you out.  Give yourself a little mini-break with a delicious, soothing winter treat to turn all of this . . .


into this:

MUCH better.

Buy your tickets here!

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