Five Hot Drinks for Cold Winter Nights

In need of a winter warmer? Use these cocktail recipes from A.J. Rathbun.

By Seattle Mag January 24, 2013


In winter, hot drinks take the chill off the body and buttress the soul. And while a few hot drinks were highlighted in my Cocktail Home Remedies post recently, there are so many heated imbibable hits that I thought a full post was needed.

Winter’s Twilight
This drink not only warms you up inside, it also adds a little healthiness to your day as the key ingredient is vitamin rich pomegranate juice. The recipe’s from Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss’ wonderful book Hot Drinks (10 Speed Press, 2007): Add 1/2 cup pomegranate juice to a small saucepan and raise the heat to medium. Let the juice come to a simmer, but not a boil. Add 2 ounces Cognac and 1/2 ounce Chambord, and lower the heat to medium-low. Heat, stirring once or twice, for two minutes, never letting it come to a boil. Pour the mix into a heatproof glass or mug. Garnish with a lemon slice.

Sometimes it’s so cold that you’ll need to consume your hot drink with eight friends to utilize body heat against the elements. For those moments, go Dickens’ style with this favorite from the 1800s (using a recipe from Good Spirits): Add 1-1/2 quarts water, 5 lemon twists, 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a 1/2 cup sugar to a saucepan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the water is boiling. Pour one 750 milliliter bottle of port into a second saucepan, or a large study bowl. Pour the boiling water mix into the port. Stir once and serve immediately, ladling into 8 mugs. Top each much with a dusting of fresh grated nutmeg.

Chamomile Fairy
If you’re one of those sad folks who don’t believe in fairies, then I suggest you pour yourself one of these after you’ve been toiling outside when the temperature’s only in the twenties. The recipe’s from Dark Spirits: Add 2 ounces Irish whiskey, 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup to a large coffee mug or other thermal-insulated glass. Stir once. Pour in 4 ounces freshly brewed Chamomile tea. Stir well. Garnish with a lemon slice.

Hot Night Cap
You might think at the end of an evening with a current or potential paramour that you wouldn’t need warming. But just in case, I suggest this chocolate-y drink from Good Spirits: Add 1-1/2 ounces Drambuie and 1/2 ounce cream de cacao to a sturdy mug. Top the mug with 3-1/2 ounces heated milk (be sure not to scald the milk when heating). Garnish with freshly grated chocolate.

Spiced Apple Toddy
You aren’t always going to be home when the desire for a simmering drink hits. If you’re in Seattle, head up to Tavern Law (1406 12th Avenue)they tend to have a nice little hot drinks section on the menu. Best is their Spiced Apple Toddy, which was created by Monica Buntha and combines applejack, pimento dram, lemon, and Demerara sugar in a wonderful way.


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