When it comes to wine coolers, who doesn't love to kick back with a tall, ice-filled glass of White Zinfandel, fresh fruit and soda, right? Wrong. So Wrong. Sure, those light and fruity flavors serve their purpose in the warmer months, but it's no excuse to drink like your parents circa 1988. Thankfully, this winter cooler once again proves the value of flavor exploration and adding complexity to cocktails previously deemed hopeless by incorporating a wide range of subtle herbal, spice and bitter characteristics.

The Magnolia Guard, created by Jesse Carr at one of Brooklyn's Maison Premiere, hits the traditional cooler hallmarks by starting with a versatile and mineraled Muscadet — a French white wine — as a vessel for the sturdy spiced Scottish liqueur Drambuie, Luxardo Amaro and a recent Chicago phenomena, Malört — the bitter wormwood distillate that has been delightfully described as foul, two-fisted and soul-crushing by some. Thankfully, Carr reigned in these potentially lessdesireable elements with lemon, honey and a pomegranate seed garnish to create a well-balanced cold weather refresher.

While I would not imagine many people embarking to make this particular cocktail at home, it's certainly a great lesson in taking a chance on combining small doses of flavors that might be too sharp on their own into the sweeter drinks we're accustomed to. Experimenting often with contrasting sweet and bitter spirits, liqueurs and modifiers will lead to surprisingly delicious results, so don't be shy. Oh, and the whole Wormwood hallucination thing? Well, it's largely a myth, but given the prolific work of Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and even Franklin D. Roosevelt, I'd say you'll be in good company.