Though it happens without fail every year, the temperature dip always seems to throw everyone for a loop. Co-workers obnoxiously compare notes on how long it takes them to scrape their windshields. Parents complain about having to buy yet another pair of snow boots for their still-growing kid. Eager cross-country skiers aren't so bothered by the cold, but they'll talk your ear off about it if there's no decent snow. We find that an effective antidote to all this moaning and groaning is to gently suggest going out for a drink. Though the alcoholic ones have their charms, the booze-free beverages on our list are just as worthy of being one of your go-to winter warmups.
We're all about this shop's perfumey and refreshing lavender lemonade in the summer, but as soon as the days get shorter and the nights get chilly, thoughts turn to the Moroccan Mocha from St. Paul artists' hangout Cahoots Coffee. Beautifully foamy, balanced smack in the middle of bitter and sweet, and extra aromatic thanks to a blend of lingering North African spices, this spicy chocolate drink won the 2012 Charlie Award for outstanding cup of coffee. (1562 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651.644.6778)
This St. Anthony Main hot spot may just be the winter warmup headquarters. It's famous for its tea-infused vodkas, but it weaves that hot drink sensibility throughout its bar menu. Choose from cocoa spiked with amaretto, hot cider with Grand Marnier (or any other tipple you fancy), or go for a classic hot toddy. Aster makes its with Jameson, honey, lemon, and hot water. Simple, straightforward, and it'll cure what ails you. (125 SE Main St., Minneapolis; 612.379.3138)
To be fair, you can get this half-and-half combination of chai tea and fresh hot cider at Starbucks, but the blend created by Janine's in the North Loop is all about the quality ingredients and a ratio that's a little heavier on the nice, tart cider. The result has all the clove-and-cinnamon-tinged warmth of a traditional mulled cider, but the creaminess makes it more dessert-like, and the smidge of caffeine makes it perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up. (119 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612.630.5188)
A drink doesn't have to be hot to successfully warm you up. Dan Oskey, bartender at the Strip Club, proves that with his ingenious mix of tequila, sour tamarind syrup, and a special extract of ancho chiles and hot cinnamon. The drink is as intoxicating as it is interesting, with the pepper's heat lasting long after the initial cleansing burn of the tequila. The sour fruit makes it reminiscent of a margarita, yet it's like nothing you've ever had before. (378 Maria Ave., St. Paul; 651.793.6247)
You might not think the dark and ancient flavors of mole sauce would really work in a sweet treat that's usually reserved for kids, but Birchwood's really does. The sophisticated Mexi Cocoa is made with cayenne and allspice for depth and heat but finished with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream to temper it. (3311 E. 25th St., Minneapolis; 612.722.4474)