Food & Drink

The Best Winter Drinking Activities

Any classic winter activity can turn boozy with the simple addition of a flask, but if you want to take your seasonal drinking to the next level, consider one of these classic boozy winter pastimes. Some require specific drinks, but when in doubt, grab a hot cocktail to warm away the winter blues. Even if you’re desperately awaiting the spring thaw, these wintertime diversions will have you celebrating the snow and all the drinking that goes along with it.

Discover Mulled Wine Around the World

Batching up some mulled wine or cider is a great way to spend a wintery afternoon indoors, but don’t just stop there. Try traditional warm winter cocktails from around the world, like Glühwein from Germany, Swedish Glögg or English Wassail.

Go Wassailing

After mixing a big punch bowl of Wassail at home, you may find yourself with bountiful leftovers. Spread the seasonal joy the traditional way by taking that punch on the road. Before caroling was de rigueur, some festive Christians would celebrate the Epiphany by marching door-to-door with a Wassail bowl, exchanging drinks with their neighbors for gifts. A darker variation involved roving bands of revelers who would aggressively demand food and drink from their hosts. Stick to the cheerful, convivial version and share the boozy wintertime wealth with a few friends.

Play Blizzard Drinking Games

When snow climbs above your windows and the TV news hosts invoke the word “snowpocalypse,” it’s time to break out your well-stocked liquid provisions and pass your time in weather-enforced isolation with a blizzard-themed drinking game. Turn on the forecast and drink every time you hear a melodramatic description of frozen water falling from the sky. Classics like “snow-mageddon” will likely be plentiful, but you should take an extra long shot for any creative new terms. You’ll be through the “snow-tastrophy” in no time.

Relax Après-Ski

All slopes lead to the ski lodge. After nailing that black diamond, follow the course straight to the bar and reward yourself with an après-ski cocktail. The traditional Alpine R&R, “après-ski” refers to a whole host of post-run entertainment, but that good time should definitely include some warm winter beverages to help you recover.

Visit an Ice Bar

If you can’t fit a bar into your DIY igloo, consider a visit to a professionally constructed ice bar. Our favorite is the Ice Bar in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, which kicked off the global trend back in 1994 and sits within the largest ice hotel in the world. Just be sure to bundle up before you belly up to the sub-zero bar.

Curl up by the Fire

A warm drink can do wonders for spirits battered by winter’s horrid temper. Even better is a drink that will warm you inside and out—one sipped by a roaring fireplace. We’ve got our fireside favorites, but any wellmade cocktail and well-attended fire will do nicely.

Compete in Gelande Quaff

Leave it to the good winter-hardy Wyomingites to come up with the greatest winter drinking game ever. A particularly bad winter storm in 1986 inspired drinkers at the Jackson Hole Air Force Base to invent the snowy pastime known as Gelande Quaff, in which teams exchange drinks by throwing them down long tables and catching them in mid-air, before chugging them, of course. The drinks must only be caught by the receiving player after they have slid completely off the table, with additional points awarded for style. According to world champ John Verdon, “It's a simple game, Gelande Quaffing. You throw the beer. You catch the beer. You drink the beer.”

Dance Away Winter at Mardi Gras (or Carnival)

Depending on the year, Mardi Gras (as it’s celebrated in New Orleans, or Carnival abroad) can fall deep in February’s bitter cold or in March as the weather just turns to spring. Either way, the moveable feast that gets you moving in the streets is one of the greatest debauched celebrations of the year. Whether you’re celebrating in typical Big Easy style with a Sazerac, or escaping to the warm samba-filled nights of Brazil with a Caipirinha, there’s no greater way to send off winter in style.