The cold bluster blowing off the lake finds us scurrying between woodpile and bar cart, desperately in need of early winter fortitude. Luckily, our pal Sarah Anderson at Iron Fish Distillery answered the call with an innovative cold weather cocktail.

Cocktail Recipe: Winter Light

The citrus and botanical notes in Michigan Woodland Gin find delicious synergy with lavender simple syrup and the bergamot and vanilla in Light of Day’s Creamy Earl Grey Tea. Sarah says this cozy cocktail delivers a warm and relaxing arc of flavors without feeling crushingly sweet or boozy.

For the Cocktail


  • 2 oz Iron Fish Distillery Michigan Woodland Gin
  • 1 oz lavender simple syrup
  • 16 oz Light of Day Organics Creamy Earl Grey Tea (brewed)
  • 1 oz vanilla almond milk
  • lavender sugar rim


Wet the rim of a 20-ounce bar mug and swirl in lavender sugar to coat. Add gin, lavender syrup, brewed tea and almond milk, stir to combine.

For the Lavender Simple Syrup

In a small saucepan combine 1 tablespoon of dried lavender buds, 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil until sugar completely dissolves. Allow syrup to cool and strain into Mason jar.

For the Lavender Sugar

In a mortar and pestle crush 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds with 2 tablespoons of raw sugar.

How does your cocktail design change as we move into colder weather?
The slower pace of the season allows us to spend time with more complex cocktails. We turn to more layered drinks with savory and herbal character and utilize flavors preserved from the harvest season like crab apples or gooseberry liqueur. This year we made a vermouth infused with sage and chanterelle mushrooms.

What are some essentials for our winter bar cart?
Stock up on tonic syrup and fall bitters like black walnut, molasses or molé. Simple syrups infused with rosemary or winter spices like clove, ginger or cardamom. Our bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup is also a great way to sweeten ol’ fashioneds and coffee drinks.

Traverse food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey. // Dave Weidner is a freelance photographer based in Traverse City.