Rain is beating down on the filmy window, yellow lights are blinking like friendly fireflies on the spruced up pine, and your couture edition Snuggie is nowhere in sight. Now is the time to bypass that chalice of chilly organic grape and sip a warm eggnog or Irish Coffee by the toasty fire. In addition to tasting delicious, hot cocktails take the edge off of shopping at the mall and visiting with intense relatives for weeks at a time.
Dirty little secret: I store my own personal flask of peppermint schnapps in a drawer in the guest bathroom at my mother’s manse. You never know when the mood will strike for something hot and medicinal while lounging with Nana and watching marathon reruns of The Nanny and Golden Girls.
If you aren’t leaving home and entertaining during the holidays, offering these options is a way to bring the ambiance of the ski resort into your pad. Here are a few recipes to consider for adding cheer to your holiday this year:
1. Burning Bush
This new spin on the old Hot Toddy calls for Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey (this is where its name is derived, not from the book Exodus) along with honey, hot water and a lemon wedge garnish. Created by New Yorker, Jim Meehan, it is simple to prepare:
Place the lemon wedge in the glass, add 1 1/2 oz of whiskey , 3 oz of the hot water. Stir, don’t shake, and chill.
2. Orange Anise Mulled Wine
You can have fun with varieties of mulled wine in your crockery cooker this time of year, and this recipe delights all your senses with the aroma of seasonal spices and citrus. It requires 2 bottles of Shiraz; 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar; 1 stick of cinnamon; 3 star anise; 1 tsp whole cloves; 1 orange; Orange peel strips.
First, remove the orange peel with a peeler and cut and peel into strips. Then squeeze the juice and discard the seeds and pulp. In a 5-quart crockery cooker combine the juice, wine and brown sugar. For your spice bag, tie the orange peel, cinnamon, star anise and whole cloves in a cheesecloth bag, and add to the cooker. Cover and cook on low for six hours to simmer the flavors. Serve in punch cups or pretty mugs.
3. Starbucks Hot Mocha Cocktail
If you’re a coffee or cocoa hound, you will love this espresso drink made in a saucepan using Starbucks coffee liqueur. It calls for 4 1/4 cups whole organic milk; 4 oz. Starbucks liqueur; 3 cinnamon sticks broken in half; 3 cups espresso; 1 1/2 cups healthy sweetener; 1/2 cup powdered sugar; 1 cup whipping cream; 1 cup cocoa powder.
To make, mix milk and cinnamon sticks in a heavy saucepan and simmer over a high heat. Remove, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Whisk espresso, sweetener and 1 cup of cocoa powder and bring the hot chocolate to a simmer, whisking frequently. Throw out cinnamon sticks and add the Starbucks coffee liqueur. Add the cream and whisk until thick. Ladle the cocoa into 8 mugs. Spoon chocolate whipped cream on top and serve.
4. Hot Apple Pie Cocktail
Apple cider is a popular winter treat and this cocktail is easy to make and very pleasing. Put aside 2 1/2 cups Simply Apple Juice and 4 cinnamon sticks; 1 tbsp lemon juice; 2 tsp. vanilla extract; 1/2 tsp. allspice; 1/4 tsp ground cardamon; 4 small scoops of organic low fat vanilla frozen yogurt; 4 oz. apple schnapps.
Place the apple juice, cinnamon sticks, lemon juice, vanilla, allspice and cardamom in a medium saucepan and warm it for two to three minutes over a medium heat, stirring until mixture is hot and spices are blended. Add in schnapps and divide among 4 mugs, topping with the yogurt.
5. Christmas Punch
An ideal choice for a big group, this English favorite blends rum with citrus and seasonings and has a pretty presentation – whether in a common bowl or grandma’s punchbowl. The recipe includes 4 pt. water; 1 lb. sugar; juice and rinds of three lemons; one bottle of rum; one bottle of ruby port; grated nutmeg; a sliced apple and a sliced orange.
Make it by boiling the water, sugar and lemon rinds in a saucepan. Cool and strain. Add the rum, port and lemon juice and transfer the liquid into a pre-warmed punch bowl. Float the fruit slices on top and sprinkle with the savory nutmeg. After three or four cups, that home wax kit he gave you won’t seem as offensive. Merry mixing!
A popular invention for those who like it straight: If you dislike fruity blends and need that whiskey straight, you can get it to an excellent room temperature using Whiskey Stones – innovative soapstone cubes that look hot and do the trick.