‘Tis the Season to Brew Your Own Batch of Winter Wine

Jabriel Donohue, the bar director at Seattle's Mountaineering Club, shares his recipe for the soul-warming elixir

‘Tis the Season to Brew Your Own Batch of Winter Wine
Getty Images/EyeEm Premium/Jabriel Donohue

In the wintry world of Westeros from Game of Thrones wine, by far, is the drink of choice. Makes sense: Westeros is a cold, cold place and a jug of wine is a good way to make things feel just a bit warmer.

That’s also true in the real world, especially if the wine in question has been specifically crafted to heat things up in the midst of a cold spell. At The Mountaineering Club at Graduate Seattle, bar director Jabriel Donohue serves such a drink, and he calls it, appropriately enough, winter wine.

Along with Yael Vengroff, the bar director of Mountaineering Club sister establishment Genghis Cohen in L.A., Donohue came up with the rooftop bar’s winter wine recipe after Seattle got hit with a winter storm that came out of nowhere.

“We were in pre-opening for The Mountaineering Club and got hit with this enormous snowstorm,” Donohue tells InsideHook. “The whole city was shutting down and grocery stores were being stripped bare. We wound up on our rooftop with a half-built bar and a foot of snow trying out variations until this one nailed the mark. Basically, it was the perfect conditions for pressured creativity and the perfect spot to drink the final product.” 

According to Donohue, that final product is in a different class than other boozy drinks that are served hot.

“Winter wines are always different from other hot winter drinks because they just feel more hearth-y,” he says. “Instead of the richness of a boozy hot chocolate or creaminess of eggnog, winter wine just burns the cold out of you. For me, winter wine is an uncommon treat but we as people have been drinking it for millennia. Sometimes it’s nice to just curl up to a fire and know you’re staying warm the same way your ancestors did.”

Provided the wine is made the way Donohue makes it now, not the way his friends did in college.

“My earliest experience making winter wine goes back to when a roommate of mine and his girlfriend started making mulled wine using Dollar Store spices and gallon jugs of Carlos Rossi,” he says. “It was awful, I never told them. I suppose they’ll know now.”

The non-awful recipe for The Mountaineering Club’s winter wine is … here. But, before you give it a try, a tip from Donohue on putting together the seasonal tipple.

“My biggest piece of advice for making winter wine is to not be afraid to experiment a little bit just to see what happens,” he says. “If everything goes wrong and you don’t like the result, you can almost always just throw a little honey in and move on to the next batch.”

Mountaineering Club’s Winter Wine

Ingredients for the Winter Wine

  • 20 oz Mulled Red Wine (recipe below)
  • 5 oz Togarashi Honey Syrup (recipe below)
  • 3 oz Becherovka
  • 1.75 oz Apple Cider Vinegar


  1. Combine all ingredients in a 750ml stopper bottle
  2. Bring to heat in a bath
  3. Serve at 140 degrees Fahrenheit

Ingredients for the Mulled Wine

  • 1 bottle Medium Bodied Cabernet (750ml)
  • 1 tsp Star Anise
  • 4 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cloves
  • 1 full Orange Zest


Combine all ingredients in a large pot and heat on low for 20 minutes or so until it is aromatic. Strain and let cool.

Ingredients for the Togarashi Honey Syrup

  • 10.5 oz Honey
  • 3.5 oz Water
  • 6 tsp Togarashi


Blend, strain and refrigerate. Use as needed.


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