The mercury dips, the octane rises.
To combat the cold and toast the repeal of Prohibition, enjoy a taste of the 1920s: Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whisky ($30). Peppery, with hints of vanilla and citrus, this Scotch is meant to emulate the "Cutty Pro" that was smuggled to speakeasies. Capt. William McCoy first brought the flavorful contraband into the United States. The 100-proof Scotch is fine as a sipper and will work with many cocktails. Cutty Sark is named for the classic clipper ship, which you'll find in Robert Burns' poem "Tam O' Shanter," as well as liquor store shelves.
Crown Royal XO Blended Canadian Whisky ($50) is the latest addition to the popular line. Crown Royal XO opens with notes of vanilla and dried fruit, as well as a hint of spice. It's a blend made with 50-plus whiskies in the Crown Royal line. The result is smooth, satisfying and versatile. The whisky contributes to very good cocktails and is commendable either on the rocks or neat.
And, at this moment, when a slush margarita may not be your cocktail of choice, consider an añejo tequila. Añejo is the pinnacle of tequila. You can use it in a cocktail, but añejo is better treated like brandy. Gran Patrón Piedra ($400) is a new, ultra-premium example, from the Patrón Spirits Company. It's a distinctive, rich, extra-aged tequila. The 80-proof tequila has a hue similar to mahogany and an aroma that takes in toast and citrus. Each 750-ml bottle is numbered. Understandably so.