By Jeremy Berger
on 11.15.13
Photo by Eric Yang

I
t’s not often we remember our first sip of something. The first sip of milk? Too young for that one. Beer? Too many additional sips to remember much of anything. Purple drank? Never boarded that train. But mulled wine is an exception: it was the winter of 2006, passing through a Christmas market in Leipzig en route to Bratislava from Berlin. The glühwein was warm, spicy and citrusy; it came in a mug garnished with a cinnamon stick. It’s the perfect drink for the holiday season: just pleasant and alcoholic enough to warm everyone up, but not like handing out rounds of high-octane Manhattans that could turn Thanksgiving dinner into an episode worthy of Jenny Jones.

Rather than recreating the memorable cup from Leipzig, we tapped the expertise of Jane Elkins, former barkeep at some of New York City’s best cocktail haunts, Booker & Dax and Cienfuegos, and currently of another, the recently opened Grace pub and restaurant. Elkins came up with three variations of mulled wine, each rooted in tradition and brushed up with ingenuity from behind her bar.

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Regal Glow

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  • 6 drops bourbon vanilla extract
  • 0.5 oz. cinnamon syrup
  • 0.75 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 2 oz. dry Riesling
  • 1 oz. water
  • Star anise pod and orange peel (for garnish)

“This is based on German/Austrian gluhwein”, Elkins says. “It’s a lighter style, using Riesling in homage to Count John IV who has the first recorded recipe. He was also the first to cultivate Riesling.”

MULLED WINE MADE EASY

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Want hot mulled wine but have a bachelor’s pantry? Promised some people you’d make mulled wine and they’re ten minutes from the doorstep? Not sure what mulled wine is? Pour a bottle of fruity red wine like Shiraz or Beaujolais in a saucepan, add a few cinnamon sticks, a few slices of orange and a splash of brandy if you’ve got it. Heat to a simmer and serve.

Nor’easter Defense

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  • 1.25 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53″ VSOP Cognac
  • 1.5 oz. Shiraz
  • Barspoon-ground ginger
  • 0.75 oz. honey syrup
  • 5 black peppercorns, cracked
  • 5 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1.75 oz. water
  • Clove-studded orange slice (for garnish)

“This one is a combination of Nordic glogg and Muldovan izvar”, Elkins says. “This is closest to what most people think of as mulled wine, with a spicier kick than usual with the addition of black pepper and ginger.”

Ron de Burgundy

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  • 1.5 oz. Santa Teresa “1796″ Solera Aged Rum
  • 1 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.375 oz. Allspice Dram
  • 1 oz. sorrel tea (Jamaican hibiscus)
  • 0.25 oz. demerara syrup
  • 0.5 oz. Banks 7 Year Rum
  • 1.5 oz. water
  • Orange twist and cinnamon stick (for garnish)

“This is a slight variation on the drink I made for Booker and Dax last year”, Elkins says. “I took the mulled wine format and moved it to the Caribbean. Globalization through technological innovations, empire building.”

This story was shot on location at Grace, a new Irish pub and restaurant in New York City. For information go to gracebarnyc.com.