Two Toffee Apple Toddy cocktails in glass cups garnished with apple slices, a cinnamon stick and whole star anise. All surrounded by more garnish and a sprig of holly, sugar cubes and fairy lights.

Blogs & Inspiration

Making the Perfect Hot Serve Cocktails for Guests

Discover how to delight guests with delicious hot serves for the colder months.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

Hot serve cocktails are a favourite during the cooler seasons of the year. They make an exquisite addition to your bar’s cocktail list, offering new and exciting creations to keep guests coming in and set your venue apart from the competition.  

Shaking up the perfect hot serves requires skill – you want cocktails that get customers to warm up with something that is comforting and delivers balanced flavours with every sip. Whether it is a gin toddy or Irish coffee, the serve should add a cosy factor to your guest experience and make every moment delightful.  

Here are some tips to mix those deliciously hot drinks.

Experiment with Spirits

Some bartenders prefer dark spirits, claiming clear spirits don’t pair well with other ingredients in a hot serve. Dark spirits also tend to have more flavours to play with, due to ageing. So, scotch whisky, rum, brandy, and bourbon and rye whiskeys are ideal for serves like Irish Coffees, Hot Toddies, and Hot Chocolates.  

But delightful creations often come from experimenting. You can work with vodka to make Hot Chocolate Martinis or spiced warm drinks; take the Mexican Tequila for a spin to make Hot Margaritas; or serve warm variations of cocktails like the Toddy. London Dry Gin is also great for Mulled Gins, Apple Punch, and Gin Flips.

The choice of spirit for a hot serve ultimately depends on the guest’s preferences, ingredients, and the serving temperature. Also, consider how a spirit’s flavours will interact with citrus, spices, sweeteners, and other additives. Experiment with different spirits before adding a serve to your menu.

Play with Flavours

Think about the cocktail you want to make and all the possible combinations or flavours you can use to impress guests.

Whether they’re overlapping or complementary, the ingredients and flavours you pick must pair with your spirit and function well when heated.

Pay attention to the base of your cocktail and pick a spirit that contains it as a flavour. For example, for a coffee cocktail, Irish cream like Baileys or whisky like Johnnie Walker Black Label makes a great pick.

Be sure to avoid flavours that might get cooked in the serve. For instance, while citrus is a common ingredient, it can easily leave the serve with a bitter taste. To avoid this, you can add the peel or fruit at the end, or you can use substitutes like saline, bitters, and amaro.

The Drinkware Matters

The drinkware for serving hot cocktails matters – you need a vessel that keeps the drink warm longer for leisurely sipping and has a handle to avoid burning your guest’s hands.

There are several options you can use, depending on your serve.  

A toddy glass makes a good pick, thanks to its thicker, tempered glass. It’s perfect for serving all hot toddies, Irish coffees, etc. Or you can opt for Irish coffee glasses - they have a handle for comfortable use, and they’re made with heat-resistant glass to prevent cracking.

You can also be crafty in the drinkware you use. For example, if your cocktail contains tea as the central ingredient, you can use a traditional Chinese ceramic teacup or tempered mugs for a delightful visual presentation. Snifters are also ideal for visually appealing serves and a touch of luxury.

Reduce the risk of cracking when serving hot cocktails by pre-heating your drinkware. Plus, hot cocktails are meant to be served warm, so pre-heating helps to deliver every serve at the right temperature.

Key Takeaways

  • You can work with any spirit to deliver delightful hot serves to your guests – light spirits can work just as well as dark spirits.
  • When working with ingredients, pay attention to the flavours of your selected spirit and base ingredient.
  • It’s best to serve hot cocktails in vessels with handles to avoid burning guests’ hands.
  • Avoid ingredients that might get cooked in a hot serve – they're likely to affect the taste and texture.
  • Whether your customers crave the rich comforts of a Bailey's Hot Chocolate, the soothing embrace of a Gordon's Pink Mulled Gin, or the aromatic allure of a Johnnie Walker Ginger Toddy, our hot serve cocktails promise to ignite your guests’ taste buds and chase away the chill.

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