With weather this cold and rainy, it’s been harder than ever to leave our comfy homes for the warmth and camaraderie of our local bars and restaurants. But with toasty options like hot toddies and other wintry beverages, the biggest challenge is remembering where you left your umbrella, as your local barkeep will handle warming you up once you get there.
This guide to East Bay bars and restaurants serving hot cocktails and warm drinks includes some non-alcoholic alternatives, too, and are all but guaranteed to take the chill off and make us feel pleasantly snug, inside and out.
Note: This is not a comprehensive list of every heated beverage in the East Bay, just some ideas of our favorites to get you started. If you have a favorite local hot cocktail, please tell us about it and we’ll try it out the next time we update this guide.
À Côté in Oakland offers Scrapple from the Apple, a drink that’s served hot and made with Pommeau de Normandie (a blend of fresh-pressed apple juice and Calvados), Armagnac, California Spiced Liqueur (with spice notes of cinnamon, cardamom and clove), lemon and honey.
It’s served with a clove-studded slice of lemon and a cinnamon stick. A warming and winning combination of apples and spice, with the added balance of citrus and honey.
No matter how you make them, the hot toddy is designed to cure what ails you, and was at one time recommended for coughs and colds — even for children! That said, À Côté’s offerings are definitely for adults. À Côté, 5478 College Ave. (near Lawton Avenue), Oakland
A hot toddy can be whatever you want it to be, but the basic idea is to combine hot water, lemon, whiskey (or other spirit) and honey. Many places riff on this basic recipe, adding spices, finding different ways to sweeten it a bit, and whatever else appeals to the creator. Any bartender can make one, but the variations can be eye-opening as well as heartwarming.
At Eureka! Berkeley, we tried the “Let the Toddies Hit the Floor,” (currently offered as the Farmer’s Market cocktail) because how could we not? This hot beverage is composed of a house-made fig and clove simple syrup, smoked cinnamon bitters, bourbon and a hit of Earl Grey tea. Not overly sweet or spicy, this toddy hit the right note with the cinnamon and the lightly fruity influence of the tea. Eureka! Berkeley, 2068 Center St. (near Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley
Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop
At this establishment, you can enjoy your cider and also learn a little bit about its history. We chose hot cider (organic Gravenstein juice with lemon and Diaspora Co. cinnamon) served “boozy” with Pommeau, but a non-alcoholic version is also available.
Redfield’s is a cozy spot to enjoy this hot beverage if you are taking a break from overindulging during the holidays, or if you simply prefer to have a 0% ABV beverage, with several options listed on the menu. Either way, it’s hard to beat the warm feeling in here, topped off with some delicious hot cider. Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop, 5815 College Ave. (at Oak Grove Avenue), Oakland
Juanita and Maude
In addition to an innovative bar menu, we like the way the names of the cocktails change here — thereby challenging the patrons to figure out what the deal is. On this visit, included on the cocktail list were drinks named Frances Ethel Gumm, Robert Zimmerman, Cassius Clay and Norma Jean Mortenson. See?
As we were in search of a hot drink, we chose the Ron Artest (had to ask about this one), a version of hot buttered rum made with house made nocino, rum and warm spices. The walnut liqueur was a subtle addition to this delightfully presented and warming drink.
We’ll be eager to see what the next drinks theme will be, and to possibly have another round of Ron A. Juanita and Maude, 825 San Pablo Ave. (near Solano Avenue), Albany
Revival Bar + Kitchen
We hit the jackpot for hot drinks at Revival. The choices include a Hot Irish Mocha (infused Chantilly Crème, coffee and Jameson whisky), Hot Buttered Rum (made with Pampero sugar cane rum, butter, spices and honey), Garden of Eden Tea (made with hibiscus tea, Triple Sec, Grand Marnier and lemon) and the non-alcoholic offering of Hot Turmeric Tea (made with ginger, cinnamon, honey and lemonade, though a version made with tequila is currently available as well).
The Hot Buttered Rum tasted ever so slightly like a buttery, boozy version of a Sugar Daddy: a good thing, in our opinion. The turmeric ginger tea had a ”good for you” feel to it, but if turmeric is your cup of tea, it’s a good choice as a non-alcoholic option. We loved the innovation of the Garden of Eden tea: all the citrus stands out and stands up to the hibiscus tea. Revival Bar + Kitchen , 2102 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley
Mornings can be chilly too! At a place that serves breakfast all day (my favorite kind of place), it’s a treat to have a warm boozy drink to accompany your delicious sticky bun, eggs, or corned beef hash.
If you are so inclined, the Chai Hottie Toddie is the one to try here. It’s made from Saison rum, house-made chai and spicy syrup. (Other spirits are available to substitute — including from local distilleries White & Brown and St. George). This toddie was a beautiful combination of cinnamon, sweetness, and the warmth of a bit of rum. Sequoia Diner, 3719 MacArthur Blvd, near Loma Vista Avenue, Oakland