As the mercury drops, we need all the warm comfort we can find. So why not use some of that ample indoor time to craft an adequate drink?
Here are few hot and boozy options worth imbibing.
1. HOT BUTTERED RUM
This classic warmer features all the pleasant winter spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and dark brown sugar. What seals the deal, though, is the generous helping of dark rum and the half stick of butter. This recipe should get the blood flowing.
2 cups water
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dark rum
Bring water, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over moderately high heat. Reduce heat and
simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Serve hot.
2. WARM BOURBON CIDER
Apple cider, that wondrous cold-weather beverage, has a boozy best friend in bourbon. This take on the drink adds nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground ginger for good measure, and makes enough to serve any guests who happen to drop by.
1 gal. fresh apple cider
5 tsp. ground cinnamon
2½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2½ tsp. ground ginger
3 c. bourbon
In a stockpot, heat apple cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
When mixture is hot but not boiling, remove from heat and add bourbon. Stir to distribute spices and divide cider among 20 mugs.
3. HOT SPICED WINE
Like a wintertime sangria, this drink—also known as mulled wine—combines the signature ingredient with spices, citrus, and other lively ingredients. If you’re handy in the kitchen, try this heady take that adds in cherry brandy, cardamom, and black pepper.
Red wine and kirsch (a brandy made from cherries) are the base for this delicious seasonal drink, which is laced with citrus and warming spices.
2 bottles light-bodied red wine
1 1/4 cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
3 black peppercorns, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
One 3-inch cinnamon stick, crushed
1 clove, crushed
1/2 cup kirsch
In a large saucepan, combine the red wine with the sugar and the orange and lemon zests. Put the spices in a tea ball and add to the saucepan. Bring the wine to a very slow simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, discard the tea ball and stir in the kirsch. Ladle the spiced wine into heatproof glasses and serve at once.
The spiced wine can be kept overnight at room temperature. Reheat before serving.
4. HOT MILK PUNCH
Before you write off the combination of milk and alcohol, consider that this drink has been warming souls since the 17th century. Traditionally served cold, it can also be made warm and frothy.
This lean milk punch is concocted with vanilla-macerated bourbon. It takes only a few minutes to prepare (maceration aside), and delivers an outsize glow on a chilly night. Though it might make a flu sufferer feel better, don’t wait for the flu to try it.
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon Demerara or other dark, raw sugar
2 ounces Old Forester Signature or other strong bourbon, vanillated
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, frothing it with a whisk until it is quite hot but not boiling. Whisk in the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir
in the bourbon. Pour into a heatproof mug and grate a small amount of fresh nutmeg atop the foam. Serves one.
To make the vanillated bourbon, slice three vanilla pods lengthwise, spreading them open to expose the pulp. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and drop them into a 1-liter bottle of 100-proof bourbon. Allow to macerate for at least a week, and top up the bottle as you use it. To make the drink without macerated bourbon, add 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract to the milk as it heats.
If you’re interested in the classic version, try Mary Rockett’s Milk Punch recipe, which dates from 1711.
1 quart V.S. or V.S.O.P. cognac
1 cup sugar
3 ounces lemon juice
1 pint whole milk
Half of 1 nutmeg, freshly grated
Using a vegetable peeler, peel lemons, avoiding the white pith as much as possible. Put the peels in a sealable, 2-quart glass container and pour cognac over them. Cover and let sit for 48 hours.
Add sugar and lemon juice to the lemon-infused cognac. Heat whole milk until scalding hot, then add to the cognac mixture and stir until the milk curdles. Stir in the grated nutmeg and let the punch sit for 1 hour.
Strain through fine cheesecloth or paper towels, bottle, and refrigerate. To serve, pour from chilled bottle into sherry glasses. If punch is too thick, add a little seltzer or, during winter, hot water.
5. STOUT HOT CHOCOLATE
There are many ways to booze up hot chocolate, but we’re featuring this one because it also calls for the perfect cold-weather beer.
12 ounces chocolate stout beer
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
Two large scoops of vanilla ice cream
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the chocolate stout to a simmer. Cook the stout for about 10-15 minutes, or until it’s reduced to about 3/4 of a cup.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a separate sauce pan, warm the milk over medium heat, being careful not to bring it to a boil. Add the cocoa powder, chocolate and sugar, whisking until everything is well combined and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the reduced beer. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Divide the ice cream between two mugs. Pour the stout hot chocolate over the ice cream. Serve immediately.
6. REMONTEL TODDY
The hot toddy has been a preferred nightcap and cold remedy for generations of drinkers. For a fresh take, try this Mexican-inspired riff that includes agave nectar, ginger beer, mezcal, and mole bitters. It has a sweet, smoky flavor that’s sure to please. It comes from The Pastry War, Bobby Heugel and Alba Huerta’s mezcal bar in Houston.
This wintertime toddy takes a swing south of the border. It’s spicy and smoky, just a little bit sweet, and a perfect companion for a cold night.
1/2 ounce agave nectar
3 1/2 ounces hot water
1 1/2 ounces mezcal such as Mezcal Vago Elote
3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
1 ounce ginger beer, room temperature
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 cinnamon stick
2 mint sprigs
Combine agave nectar and hot water in a mug or serving glass, stir until dissolved. Add mezcal, Chartreuse, ginger beer, mole bitters, and Angostura bitters. Stir
and add cinnamon stick.
Press lime zest and mint between your hands. Drop into toddy and serve.
FEW NOTES FROM AN AUTHOR
It’s a drink in balance, with no single flavor overpowering the others. A little sweet agave nectar helps to tie it all altogether, and mole bitters give it a dry chocolate note. And while it’s not a bubbly drink, the effervescence of the ginger beer gives the Remontel Toddy an extra kick and tingle on your tongue.
This warm drink is a great use for mezcal. The smooth spirit has undertones of sweet citrus; it’s infused with roasted sweet corn for a week and then distilled a third time, and though the corn flavor isn’t necessarily obvious, the mezcal has a richness that helps support its smoky flavor.
7. HOT COCOA AND WHISKEY
The name tells you everything you need to know. Follow instructions and use Irish whiskey along with homemade whipped cream.
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups milk
Pinch of salt
6 ounces Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
For the Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cinnamon or cocoa powder to garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Do not boil! Whisk until smooth and creamy.
Remove from the heat and add the whiskey.
In a separate cool metal bowl whisk the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, until stiff peaks form.
Divide the cocoa and whiskey mixture among 4 to 6 cups and top each with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on top if desired.
8. LAST STOP DARJEELING
Tea cocktails are—there’s really no other way to say it—hot right now. Across the country, mixologists are livening up Earl Gray and company with sweeteners, spices, and proper doses of rum, gin, and other spirits. Try this recipe, which combines Darjeeling tea with Orleans Cider Bitters, dry sherry, and agave nectar.
1.5 oz Orleans Cider Bitters
1.5 oz Lustau Oloroso Dry sherry
.25 oz lemon juice
1/2 pot Darjeeling “2nd Flush” Black Tea
3 bar spoons agave nectar
Make 1/2 pot of Darjeeling Tea and let step.
Fill tea mug 3/4 full with hot tea, add remaining cocktail mixture and serve warm with a lemon twist.
9. SPANISH COFFEE
Fresh-brewed coffee, rum, and Kahlua come together to make this eye-opening cocktail. The best part? You get to light it (carefully) on fire.
If you live in Portland, Oregon, you have access to one of the best versions of Spanish Coffee around. Huber’s Café has become famous for their Spanish Coffee prepared perfectly every time with all of the fire-filled theatrics you’d ever want.
3/4 oz. 151-proof rum
1/2 oz. triple sec (Huber’s uses Bols)
2 oz. Kahlúa
3 oz. fresh-brewed coffee
Tools: lighter or matches
Glass: sugar-rimmed red wine or Irish coffee glass (make sure it’s tempered)
Garnish: lightly whipped cream and ground nutmeg
Add the rum and the triple sec to the sugar-rimmed glass and carefully ignite.
Add Kahlúa (the flame should go out at this point) and top with hot coffee.