A nightcap is not just a funny hat that people used to wear long ago to bed. It’s a kind of cocktail, too, one that warms the soul and can send you right off to slumber town. Here, we break down the end-of-day drink and offer some quality recipes to boot.
Simply put, a nightcap is a drink one has just before bedtime. The drink itself is meant to promote sleep and, arguably, some do this better than others. Most cite the hot toddy as the original nightcap drink, but there are actually quite a few that function in a similar fashion. These are not the tequila shots and coffee cocktails that start the party.
There’s a science to at least some of it. Obviously, alcohol makes a person sleep. Other ingredients, like milk, contain calcium and tryptophan, both known to promote sleep. What tends to work best is the simple comforting aspect of many of these
An overly full stomach can be a recipe for tossing and turning well into the wee hours. Some prefer the antioxidants that naturally occur in things like wine and wine-based spirits, like
There are a lot of great hot toddy
- 2 ounces bourbon (we suggest Templeton rye)
- 4 ounces hot water
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup*
- 1/2 ounce orange juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 orange slice
- 1 whole clove
- Pour hot water into a glass to temper it. This ensures that the glass doesn’t cool your drink (it’s a hot toddy, not a lukewarm toddy).
- Next, squeeze the lemon and orange juice using your method of choice, cut off an orange slice, and slip pieces of clove into the orange.
- Pour out the hot water you used for tempering the glass, then add bourbon.
- Splash in your lemon juice, orange juice, and honey simple syrup. Next, add your cinnamon stick and cloved orange slice.
- Pour in about 4 ounces of hot water and stir.
*Honey syrup: Heat equal parts honey and water until the honey dissolves.
This classic cocktail blends so many sleep-inducing ingredients, from
- 1 1/2 ounces Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
- 1 ounce Giffard White Creme de Cacao
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- Nutmeg for garnish
- Shake all ingredients with ice.
- Double strain into a chilled coupe.
- Garnish with a few grates of nutmeg.
They don’t come much easier than this. Here, you get the stomach-settling effect of club soda with the warmth and pleasant drowsiness of Scotch.
- 2 ounces Scotch whiskey
- 4 ounces club soda
- Lemon twist for garnish
- Fill a glass with ice and pour Scotch over it.
- Add the club soda slowly but don’t bother stirring.
- Garnish with some citrus, like a twist of lemon.
Not only is this drink from Natalie Migliarini supremely autumnal, but it’s also incredibly soothing. If you don’t like maple syrup, simply don’t add any, as the walnut
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/4 ounce of pure maple syrup
- 3 dashes of walnut bitters
- 1 cup of ice
- Cracked walnut for garnish
- Add all ingredients into mixing glass.
- Stir to chill and combine ingredients.
- Strain into serving glass over fresh ice and garnish with cracked walnut.
This evening delight switches things up by calling for twice as much vermouth as rye. The result is a simple but satisfying drink that nudges you toward the cool side of your favorite pillow.
- 2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 1 ounce rye whiskey
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Lemon twist or cherry for garnish
- Stir all ingredients in mixing glass with ice.
- Strain into a chilled glass and garnish.
- This creative old-fashioned recipe has two bitters and a unique bourbon that give it a campfire feel
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