Written by Danielle Hutton
Photos by Gavin McIntyre

Mornings are chilly, and the fog bank has slowly reclaimed its hold on the city.Mother Nature dropped record low tempertures on San Francisco this December with bitter cold air. Sometimes a jacket and scarf are just not enough. So, let’s warm up and get cozy properly—with some whiskey, hot drinks, and an array of liquor. Here are three hot drinks with a little kick to really heat things up this holiday season.

Cafe Tosca – Cap Haitian Apple Toddy $12

Cap Haitian Apple Toddy
Cap Haitian Apple Toddy

After closing and changing owners, Cafe Tosca reopened in October. Cafe Tosca boasts a warm, classy decor that is too tempting to pass up on a chilly night. The evening crowd adds to the pleasant atmosphere, chatting and laughing as they sample the new wares and come back for old favorites. A bit more on the pricey side, the bar serves up the Cap Haitian Apple Toddy, featuring Haitian rum, cider, spiced butter, garnished with a cinnamon stick and slice of roasted apple, plucked from a ceramic warmer on the bar.

Sweet from the first sip, and slightly buttery with a kick of rum, it’s warm enough to be enjoyable without sacrificing your tongue. If you’re drinking at the bar, make sure to get to it fast, as the air conditioner will cool things down significantly. Overall, it’s enough to make a cold, damp night all the more pleasant, with the roasted apple turning into boozy applesauce at the end.

Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

Kells Pub – Irish Coffee $9

If you can hear yourself over the over-enthused crowds and the sports game of the moment, Kells Pub serves up an Irish Coffee that gives you enough bang for your buck at a decent size. The sports bar vibe contrasts sharply with the soft, almost romantic lighting cast by the lamps lining the bar and the crisp, white table cloths laid over the tables.

Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey, brown sugar, coffee, and cream come together to create an Irish coffee that’s dark and strong, served up in a sizable glass and topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. Once you work past the first layer, the coffee’s strong and dark, overwhelming the presence of the whiskey on the first drink. After a few sips, it’ll mellow out into something slightly more sweet, but beware; this particular drink is not for the lighthearted, casual drinker, or frappuccino fan. For the price, the size of the drink is definitely worth it and sure to warm you up and add a bit of energy to your evening.

Gold Dust Lounge – Cafe Gold Dust $8.75

Cafe Gold Dust
Cafe Gold Dust

San Francisco’s Embarcadero is a tourist trap, and The Gold Coast Lounge is caught up in the thick of it. Embossed wallpaper, cheesy matching red-vested uniforms, and a lounge band are just a few of the features of the Lounge. If you can brave the drunken tourists and stand the cheesy humor of the resident band leader, the drinks are well worth it.

If you like cappuccinos and rum, this is the drink for you. The Cafe Gold Dust is strong, but not overly bitter coffee makes up the base of the drink, flavored with amaretto, Kahlua and the orange candy of Grand Marnier. A few sips through the cold cream float and you’ll find yourself pleasantly buzzed, in more ways than one. The cream topping softens the taste of the rum, making it less overwhelming but still providing the alcoholic kick to really get things going.