Picture this: You’re home, cozying up in the sofa and about to watch that movie you’ve been meaning to. It’s cold outside and the sound of rain feels soothing when you know you can stay in and and just relax. Among your repertoire of winter warmers there is an ultra soft blanket, your favourite jumper and indulgent hot cocktails. You hold it with both hands and take a sip, it’s just the perfect complement for an evening of sweet idleness.
Making the perfect hot cocktail is not hard, and while there are plenty of classic recipes, before we move to ingredients and methods, here are some tips that will help you prepare the best hot drinks.
1. Bag up your spices: While cinnamon sticks are easy to remove, get a muslin bag in order to keep your small spices together.
2. Your slow cooker is your best friend: Instead of using a punch bowl, use a slow cooker to make sure your hot drink stays hot. This is very handy if you’re hosting for a group and you want everyone to enjoy it at its best. You can turn it off after a while as you don’t want to keep cooking our drink!
3. Don’t let it boil: Remember, alcohol’s boiling point is 78.37 °C which means that if you heat it too much, it will evaporate even before the liquid begins boiling, so keep the heat low and the cooking time short once anything with an ABV gets into the mix.
4. Play with your coffee toys: If you happen to have a milk frother, this is its time to shine. Whether the drink is coffee based or not, you’ll love the latte-like texture. If you don’t have this gadget, you can get a similar effect with a whisk.
5. Make your “weaks” strong: Prefer dark roast coffee or strong tea or chocolate as a base for your drink. A delicate bean or infusion might be pleasant by itself, but you want to make sure the flavour of the spirit you use doesn’t overpower the mixer.
6. Preheat the mug: To avoid thermal shock (specially if you’re using a glass container), simply add hot water and let the mug or glass heat before emptying it to pour in your drink. It will also help it stay hot for longer.
7. Get inspired by winning combinations: Think about what flavours mix well with the base of your drink and find a liqueur or spirit that contains it. For example, if you’re working with a hot chocolate base, go for Frangelico, Amaretto or even Cointreau; for coffee, think Kahlua, whiskey or Irish cream.
8. Don’t overcook citrus fruit: If the recipe you have calls for the ingredients to be cooked together, add any citrus fruit or peel at the end, as cooking them for a long time will get them to release bitter compounds.
9. A touch of cream: Milk based drinks will benefit from a teaspoon or two of fresh cream. This will make them richer and give them a very pleasant texture.
10. Use whole spices: Avoid using already-grounded spices and instead, opt for the whole spice, as it will have more aromatic compounds and oils, therefore your drink will be fresher and more intense.
Now, lets get ready for the hottest cocktail recipes…
MAPLE AND CINNAMON HOT TODDY
The basics for this classic style of cocktail are a spirit (often whiskey), hot water and honey, although fruit slices and spices are a common addition.
– 2 oz Bourbon
– 1/4 oz lemon juice
– 1 Slice of lemon
– 3 cloves
– 1 Stick of cinnamon
– 2 tsp maple syrup
– Boiling water
1. Fill about halfway of a mug with boiling water. Add the maple syrup and stir to dissolve.
2. Stick the cloves into the lemon slice. Add to the mug.
3. Add the lemon juice and the Bourbon. Stir with the stick of cinnamon and leave in.
SPIKED WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE
A spiked version of this sweet and creamy drink, ideal to sip slowly and indulge in its frothy deliciousness.
– 1 l of milk
– 8 oz white chocolate, chopped (or drops)
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 10 oz vodka
– 8 oz Coole Swan (or a cream liqueur of your choice)
1. Heat the milk and add the vanilla. Separate half and froth it.
2. Add the white chocolate to the other half. Stir until the chocolate is melt.
3. Add the vodka and the cream liqueur.
4. Add the frothed milk.
A twist on a classic, this is the beautiful mix between an Irish Coffee and a mochaccino.
– 2 espresso shots (or 2 shots of strong, black coffee)
– 2 oz Irish whiskey
– 2 oz hot milk
– 1 tbsp milk chocolate drops
– Sugar (to taste)
– Heavy cream, whipped (to taste)
– Cocoa powder
1. Pour the coffee in the mug and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve.
2. Add the hot milk and the whiskey.
3. Add the chocolate drops and stir to dissolve.
4. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle cocoa powder.
There are many variations to this rum-based hot drink with a history that traces back to the mid 18th century. Ours offers a sweet and sour kick, with a touch of spice
1. Fill about halfway of a mug with boiling water. Add the brown sugar and stir to dissolve.
2. Add the orange peel, the lime juice and the rum. Stir with the stick of cinnamon and leave in.
3. Stick the cloves into the lime slice. Use as garnish.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.