Indulge in Some Hot Cocktails

Festive and full of good cheer, these warm drinks will bring comfort to cold nights ahead.


By Florence Fabricant

There’s nothing like sitting bundled up outdoors around a firepit, or even indoors to escape the chill, with a hot drink to warm the hands, body and mood. Like a Southside in summer, warm cocktails and other drinks want winter. There are classics, like glühwein, Irish coffee and Tom and Jerry, or you can always toss a shot of brandy into a cup of hot chocolate or tea.

For these festive warmers, well endowed with spirits, home bartenders can use mugs or coffee cups; glass ones are nice. Bear in mind that the drink is hot, so the container needs a handle. Seasonally decorated cocktail napkins are as necessary as tinsel on the tree.

Here are several warm drinks for sipping before or even after dinner. There’s a fairly classic mulled wine, a smoky tea-based warmer that relies on Lapsang Souchong tea and peaty Scotch for its charred allure, and a riff on hot buttered rum from Ivy Mix and Julie Reiner, two stars in the New York bartending galaxy who run a seasonal menu called Sleyenda at their Brooklyn bar, Leyenda. The cappuccino “egg nog,” an eggless concoction, requires an espresso maker or at least a milk frother for its topping.

Après Ski

Adapted from Quality Eats, Quality Italian and Quality Bistro restaurants in New York City

Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

½ cup sugar

2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for servings

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon whole allspice

3 cups (1 bottle) rich but dry red wine like zinfandel

¼ cup Bénédictine

¼ cup Cognac or brandy

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Orange wheels for garnish

1. Place sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice in a 2-quart saucepan. Add ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer and when sugar has dissolved, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring.

2. Add the wine, Bénédictine, Cognac and lemon juice. Bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour into a pitcher, straining out the spices. Divide among mugs or heavy stemware, garnishing each with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange. Serve warm.

Winter and Smoke

Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 drinks

1 teaspoon Lapsang Souchong leaf tea or 1 tea bag

5 star anise

5 green cardamom pods

6 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

3 ounces smoky Scotch, like Laphroig or Lagavulin.

2 lemon wheels for garnish

1. In a small saucepan brew tea in 6 ounces water. Add 3 star anise, the cardamom and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, honey and Scotch.

2. Pour into 2 glass mugs, garnish each with a star anise pod and a lemon wheel, and serve.

Nightmare Before Christmas

Adapted from Sleyenda in Brooklyn

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 drink

2 ounces dark rum

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) passion fruit purée or lemon curd

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons pineapple juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

½ tablespoon salted butter in a single pat

1. Combine rum, passion fruit purée, honey, pineapple juice and lime juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring, until the ingredients are well blended. Pour into a prewarmed coffee mug.

2. Top with pat of butter and serve.

“Egg Nog” Cappuccino

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 drink

Ground coffee for a 2-ounce espresso, regular or decaf

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons brandy or other spirit

¼ cup heavy cream

Pinch of nutmeg

1. Brew the espresso into a cup or mug (at least 6-ounce capacity). Stir in the sugar and brandy.

2. In a separate container, foam the cream by machine or with a frothing wand. Spoon it over the spiked coffee, dust with nutmeg and serve.

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