Hot pumpkin toddy. Hot buttered rum. Spiced latte. Mulled wine. Are you feeling toasty already? Its the season for warming up inside with hot drinks. Theyre easy to make at home and that way you dont even have to de-ice the car.
In a colder climate, its a little more comforting to have something warm in your hand, says Rodel Borromeo, executive chef at Social bar in Tacoma, Wash., where the drinks menu has just moved on from hot pumpkin toddies to hot buttered rums. (Our) hot buttered rum is moving pretty well.
Hot alcoholic drinks go back a long way, of course: hot toddies crop up in Charles Dickens and Jack London; hot negus (mulled wine) in Jane Austen. The hot toddy, made of sugar, spice, citrus, alcohol and hot water, is a traditional way to cure a cold or at least, cheer yourself up while youre suffering. Hot buttered rum, with its mixture of creamed butter and sugar, spices, rum and hot water, is also soothing. And theres something about frothy milk or cream that will warm up anyone.
Not into milk? Try wine. Mulling wine goes back centuries with many names around Europe: think Nordic Glgg, or German Gluhwein. You can buy mulling wine spices but putting your own mix together is also easy: The usual ingredients are whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, whole allspice and a bit of orange peel. Wrap in a cheesecloth bag or just float them in the wine and scoop them out when youre done. Boil the wine with sugar to taste.
How much spice?
Everyone has different tastes, says drinks expert Brooke Ahnemann. I usually recommend people start with a tablespoon of spice mix per bottle of wine, and add more if they like it. Another way to get extra flavor is add a sweet liqueur such as Triple Sec instead of sugar, Ahnemann suggests.
Need something non-alcoholic? You can mull cider, too. Or try making hot buttered rum without the rum, adding cream soda instead – youll get something rather like Harry Potters butterbeer, sweet and rich.
Then theres toddy. The story goes that this sweet, lemony alcoholic drink was brought to England by someone in the East India trading company from India, where people still make strong, distilled toddy from palm tree sap. Hot toddys easy enough to make – just mix a little sugar or honey, a little spice (cinnamon, or cloves), a dash of lemon juice and a shot of whisky or rum to some hot water.
Finally, theres the froth. Not all hot drinks need it – you wont be wanting to froth mulled wine or cider – but its useful if youre sprinkling spices or chocolate. The easiest way is adding whipped cream. You can whip your own milk or cream with a hand-held electric mixer, an espresso steamer or a whisk. For a party trick, and to cool down a piping hot drink, try what chai sellers in India do – pour a latte from one cup into another and back again and increasing the distance until you have a froth. (This might be something to practice over the sink first.)
We may have a long, cold winter ahead of us but think of it as a deliciously long time to whip up your own menu of hot frothy drinks. You might even cure a cold or two as well.
Hot Pumpkin Toddy
Cinnamon stick (optional)
Chili powder (optional)
Purée equal parts of roasted pumpkin, simple syrup and honey.
Mix 2 ounces of the pumpkin purée with 4 ounces hot water. Add 1 1/2 shots of whiskey.
Optional: Add cinnamon stick and dash of chili powder.
Note: This will separate after sitting, so it needs stirring.
– Social Bar and Grill, Tacoma, Wash.
2 ounces prepared coffee or espresso
2 tablespoons gingerbread-flavored syrup
1/2 cup milk, steamed
1/8 cup frothed milk
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
In a coffee mug, combine espresso coffee with flavored syrup. Pour in steamed milk and frothed milk and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and vanilla powder.
Homemade Creamy Hot Chocolate
2 cups whipping cream
6 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (12-ounce) package milk or dark chocolate chips
Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla and chocolate chips in a pot. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Stir again before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or cinnamon, as desired.
Optional: Sprinkle spice mix on top such as ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper.
Hot Buttered Rum
1/4 pound butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 pound light brown sugar
1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cayenne, salt
Spiced rum, your choice
Baileys Irish Cream
Mix butter, brown sugar and spices. Put 1 tablespoon of mix into 4 ounces hot water. Let melt. Add in 2 to 3 ounces of spiced rum. Add a dash of Baileys Irish Cream, and float a cinnamon stick to garnish.
– Social Bar and Grill, Tacoma, Wash.
Mulled Wine or Cider
Lemon peel (optional)
1 bottle of wine
Sugar or sweet liqueur such as Triple Sec
Create spice mix by combining whole cloves, allspice, cinnamon, orange peel and lemon peel.
Boil 1 bottle of wine with 1 tablespoon of spice mix. Add sugar/sweet liqueur such as Triple Sec to taste. Add more spice mix to taste.
Optional: If mulling non-alcoholic cider, add bourbon to glass, if desired.
– Bucks Fifth Avenue spice store, Olympia, Wash.