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Ask A Sacramento Expert: Your Best Hot Winter Drink

When cold weather arrives, we think about all things cozy and warm. Cooler temperatures also create opportunities for local bar pros to showcase their skills with hot beverages. When we think about hot drinks, things like Tea and Sympathy or Hot Toddies come to mind. While the classics are always great, drink recipes have come a long way. The right bartenders can get downright crazy with cocktail creations if you let them. Here are a few modern recipes for hot winter drinks that'll warm you right up from Balele Shoka, resident mixologist at Aji Japanese Bistro in El Dorado Hills. 
Balele Shoka
Aji Japanese Bistro
4361 Town Center Blvd
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

(916) 941-9181

The three recommended drinks go as follows: a Hot Buttered Rum, Washington Toddy and last but certainly not least, The Aji House Coffee With Bailey's. If you're thinking the last one sounds kind of boring, you could not be more wrong because you'll be making the Bailey's from scratch. 

Hot Buttered Rum


  • 1.5 oz Zaya 12-year rum
  • 1 heaping spoon of rum batter


In a hot mug, add rum batter and hot water, then stir well. Grated nutmeg can be added as a garnish. This drink is a warm, sweet cocktail with a kick. Don't be fooled by the fact that it tastes like candy because the buzz you'll get is very real. 

Related: Ask A Sacramento Expert: Fourth Of July Cocktail Recipes

Washington Toddy


  • 1.5 oz Lairds Applejack Brandy
  • .75 oz honey syrup (locally sourced)
  • 1 dash Angustura Bitters
  • 1 dash Peychauds Bitters


In a hot mug, add brandy, honey and bitters. Then add hot water and stir. Use three lemon peels as a garnish. Brandy is a natural when it comes to hot drinks and it is the perfect base for this cocktail. This drink is really good any time of year to help you unwind after a long day.

Aji House Coffee With Bailey's   

Some of you might be thinking, "there's nothing all that creative about Bailey's and coffee." Well, if you just went to the store and purchased Bailey's to add to hot coffee, this might be the case. But you're going to make it with your own two hands.


  • 1 bottle of Teelings Irish Whiskey
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 14-oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoons of Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • 4 tsp of pure vanilla extract, the more fair trade the better

Directions for Bailey's:

Place all ingredients in an immersion blender or a normal blender and mix on high speed for 20 seconds. Strain off top fat through cheese cloth as it can get very curdled on top. Transfer contents into an airtight container and keep refrigerated; this should stay good for a while. 

Directions for Aji House Coffee with Bailey's:

Add 2 ounces of fresh-made Bailey's into a preheated mug and pour coffee to within a half inch of the rim. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Lastly, add Mexican chocolate shavings and a skewered cranberry/luxardo cherry on top. 

Related: Ask A Sacramento Expert: Best Easy Tailgate Food

As a hospitality professional Andy Soto has worked every facet of the industry. He currently leads the team at Spectrum Restaurant Consulting. He started writing a hospitality blog in 2009 and restaurant writing for Sacramento Press in 2010. In 2011 Andy became a Sacramento Restaurant Examiner for His work can be found on

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