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Finding Brightness with Winter Cocktails

Finding Brightness with Winter Cocktails
Written by Lia Grabowski | Images by Shell Royster

While colder temperatures ignite the desire for the warm burn of caramel-colored spirits, cocktail maven Tiffanie Barriere is here to remind us that winter cocktails need not always be dark and moody. The former beverage director turned independent cocktail educator says her cocktail inspiration often comes from what she’s craving. And this time of year? She often turns to bright, vibrant flavors and whimsical fun to carry her through chilly months. 

Winter cocktails

After coming into her own behind the bar at One Flew South, Barriere made the leap to doing pop-up dinners and creating brand content to share her education and excitement with a wider audience through her company, the Drinking Coach. When the pandemic hit, she was uniquely positioned to quickly pivot to an online model—she began hosting virtual cocktail classes, quickly reaching a fever pitch of some half-dozen classes a day for weeks on end. 

“People always ask me, ‘I like whiskey, I like old fashioneds, what else should I drink?’ Why mess with what you like?” Barriere says. To add a little oomph to your usual without straying too far, she suggests experimenting with the buttery sweetness of maple syrup. 

Winter cocktails

To really push the winter blues away, though, she reaches for something entirely different: Tequila. “Margaritas bring people to a happy place,” she says. “You think about sitting on a beach in Mexico.” But for the wintertime, she says, people tend to forget they can still have a margarita; adding a savory element keeps it feeling seasonal. In this case, Barriere uses fresh carrot juice. 

When it comes to trying out new drinks, Barriere also looks to cocktail history and cultural education. “It starts with research, what are other people, other cultures, drinking in the winter?” Following that rabbit hole of the cultural cocktail canon led her to coquito, a coconut milk cocktail popular around Christmas in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic that Barriere says is “like eggnog but way better.”

Three Winter Cocktails that Banish the Blues

maple syrup old fashioned

Maple Syrup Old Fashioned

Carrot Margarita

Spiced Carrot Margarita


Sweet and Spicy Coquito 

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