My bartending style tends to run less towards the carefully measured, tried-and-true recipes and more towards the “What’s in my fridge right now?” trial-and-error method. I rarely use actual measures, because what is “good” depends on how many people are drinking, how liquored up they want to be, and how well they hold all that liquor.
That being said, I have a few favorite drinks that do really well in cold weather.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate:
This ain’t your grandma’s hot cocoa. (Or maybe it is…) I like to add a few drops (or shots) of Peppermint Schnapps to hot chocolate for an immediate warm-up. Make the cocoa with milk if you like it creamier.
Cinnamon Vanilla Cream:
One day my love of Starbucks and alcohol collided, and this drink was born. I just poured some Cinnamon Schnapps into my Vanilla Crème, and – voilà – an innocuous looking brew. Yes, I did keep it all in the Starbucks container. You can make your own Vanilla crème by warming up milk, adding a drop or two of vanilla extract, sugar to taste, and topping it off with whipped cream.
Hot (Spiked) Apple Cider:
First, you need to find some alcoholic apple cider. It’s probably somewhere between the beer and wine sections. Two bottles is a good amount to start with. On the stove, get it simmering with two cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of cloves, a little bit of sugar and some nutmeg. What really makes it piping hot though, is the addition of either rum or apple brandy. Be generous, ladies – the apple cider has lost most of its alcoholic content in the heating process.
Hot Spiced Wine:
Hot spiced wine is like Sangria, only warm. With cinnamon and cloves. You start by boiling about a ½ cup of sugar in a ½ cup of water (for a 2 bottle recipe). Once the sugar is dissolved into the water, add the wine and spices. When you feel that the mixture has sufficiently blended, turn off the heat and add orange and lemon slices and either rum or brandy to taste. Vodka works too, and you can get creative with the fruit you choose to put in. It is best if you make it an hour or so before you serve it.
For a more sophisticated cocktail try the Blushing Reindeer, or any one of these being made at the hippest New York bars. Personally, if I’m the one making the drinks, I shouldn’t have to work to get drunk. I leave the creative mixology to the bartenders.
Any of your own favorite recipes that you want to share?
[Always drink responsibly. Photo courtesy of countryliving.com]