Hot Drink Ideas for Chilly Outdoor Hangouts

Cheers to Hot Drinks, Cold Days, and Good Friends

And Our Favorite Insulated Drinkware

Whether you’re indulging in a private après-ski beverage in the resort parking lot, gathered around a backyard fire with a friend or two, or celebrating the first snowshoe of this season, hot drinks are a highlight of cold days spent outdoors. 

Here are a few of our favorite hot drink recipes that we love to take outside:

Cardamom Hot Chocolate

We love this simple, classic cocoa recipe with the addition of extra warming spices. Cardamom is known to be calming and anxiety-relieving, plus it boosts circulation. Those features added to an already-cozy cup of cocoa? Yes, please. 

For 1 serving, combine:

  • 2 cups milk (dairy free options work well too)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or 1½ Tbsp sugar
  • ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

Scale the recipe up as desired and heat in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming, stirring frequently. Transfer to a thermos or insulated mug and shake before serving. 

Wassail (alcohol optional)

Hot, mulled wassail is a traditional holiday drink, but it’s a delicious spiced beverage no matter the occasion. This recipe can be spiked for an extra kick. Wassail is typically made for groups and parties and served like hot punch.

For 8 servings, combine: 

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) apple cider
  • 5 cups pineapple juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • Optional: spike the whole pot or individual servings with vodka, bourbon, or rum to the taste and strength of your choice

Simmer on the stove for 20 minutes & serve hot or store to serve later. This can also be made in a slow cooker for backyard hangouts. In that case, cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 

Recipe adapted from Boulder Locavore

Turmeric Tea with a Twist

We all love warming up with easy turmeric tea during work days, so this version made from fresh ingredients is an extra special treat to take outside. It’s surprisingly quick to prepare and packs a nutritional boost for digestion and immune support. 

For 2 servings, you’ll need: 

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 inch turmeric root, sliced
  • 1 inch ginger root, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • The juice of ¼ a lemon, plus peel for garnish
  • Maple syrup or honey to taste

Bring water to a boil and add the sliced roots, cinnamon, lemon juice, and pepper. Simmer covered for 5 minutes. Serve with a twist of lemon and maple syrup or honey to taste.

Recipe from Aline Made

Hot Buttered Rum (alcohol optional)

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is what we imagine a butter beer might taste like and it can be enjoyed just as well with or without the namesake alcohol involved. Its base is vanilla ice cream, so while this recipe makes a LOT it can be stored in the freezer for a long time. 

For 50 servings (or more like 20) you’ll need:

  • ½ pound butter
  • ½ pound brown sugar
  • ½ pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • Hot water
  • Optional: rum!

To make the batter, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, mix in sugars and remove from heat. Whisk in ice cream and spices, pour into a container, seal, and freeze. To serve, mix 1 (or 2) tablespoons of batter into a mug of hot water. Add 1oz of rum if desired.

Almond Milk Chai with Orange and Whiskey (alcohol optional)

This is one take on a hot toddy that we can’t get enough of. Alcohol-infused or not, the warmth of the chai spices combined with orange feels like a straight-up cup of coziness. 

For 1 serving, combine:

  • 8 oz vanilla almond milk (or other non-diary milk of your choice)
  • 1 ½ tsp loose leaf chai tea (or 1 tea bag)
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
  • Slice of orange and cinnamon stick for garnish
  • Optional: 1 oz whiskey 

Heat milk in a saucepan until just beginning to simmer. Remove from heat, stir in tea (or add bag), and let steep for no longer than 3 minutes. Pour into a mug with orange juice and whiskey if desired. Garnish and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rhubarbarians

Mulled Wine or Cider (alcohol optional)

German Glühwein or Swedish Glögg, mulled wines come down to the simple, warmed combination of (cheap) wine, cinnamon, cloves, and citrus simmered together. Apple cider can be mulled just as easily as wine for an alcohol-free version.

For 4 servings, you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle of dry wine (white or red)
  • 1 whole oranges, sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of extra liqueur. (One of our favourites to mix with either wine or cider is Tuaca—a vanilla brandy!)

Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium high heat. Once it just starts to simmer turn to low, cover, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Serve warm with an extra orange slice to garnish.

Recipe adapted from Delish

And to take these drinks with you… Some of our favorite insulated drinkware:

  1. Otterbox Elevation 14 mug
  2. Yeti Rambler 20oz tumbler
  3. Stanley 44oz thermos
  4. GSI Outdoors Glacial Enamelware 15oz insulated mug
  5. Hydroflask 10oz wine tumbler
  6. Hydroflask 25oz wine bottle


Banner image by Leslie Carvitto courtesy of Laura Borichevsky, drink illustrations by Rachel Hirst

Editor’s note: This article contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase She Explores receives a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support! 

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