You’ve heard of mulled wine – red wine’s spicier, warmer cousin – but how many of us have whipped up a mulled cocktail on a cold winter evening? From gin to whisky, there are some spirits that can create wonderfully warm cocktails – perfect for Christmas drinking. Here are five of our favourites.
Okay, this isn’t necessarily an alternative to mulled wine – more mulled wine with a couple of key additions. Try a base mulled wine of Merlot, Shiraz or Cabernet – all delicious – and create a mulled wine base as you would, introducing spices such as cardamon and cinnamon to the mix. But, also throw in a large chunk of ginger for a kick, and add a splash of whisky before you pour – to up that warming feeling.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of – and tried – a Negroni in many different conditions. It truly is a drink for all seasons, from balmy beach bars to heady dark casino nights. But we’ve found another home for this stalwart of the drinks menu; Christmas. Simmer your usual ingredients (look here for a refresher) and then add a little honey, a stick of cinnamon, several peppercorns and some grated nutmeg to taste. Strain out, garnish with orange peel – and enjoy.
There’s something innately calming about warming up cider anyway, but add a shot of bourbon and simmer with a cinnamon stick and it takes this winter warmer to a new level entirely. For the bourbon, use something less obnoxiously-flavoured than your big name brands so as not to overpower the apple, and don’t feel obligated to splash in half the bottle. A little will go a long way.
This is a little odd, but bear with us. Begin by pouring a dry white wine – we’d go Riesling – into a pan, and stir in some star anise, fresh ginger cardamom pods and cloves. Let this simmer, and when it starts to bubble, throw in a shot or two of pear brandy – which may not be sitting in your drinks cabinet already, but is worthy of an addition for this cocktail alone.
You’re likely more used to sipping rum on a hot summer’s day, but this Caribbean spirit has its place around the Christmas table, too. To make this punch – a brilliant communal bow for a festive party – boil apple juice, a little brown sugar, and spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice – to taste, before stirring in as much golden rum as you like. Garnish with lemon peel and be merry.