Heat and Be Merry

Three Classic Hot Holiday Cocktails

December 12, 2014 Culture By Photo by Ryan Cavataro

In Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield, Micawber, the protagonist’s kind-hearted friend, escapes financial troubles and a nefarious employer. But his greatest accomplishment is proper winter drinking. “He made his face shine with the punch,” Dickens wrote, “so that it looked as if it had been varnished all over.”

Not that you should necessarily drink yourself into a varnished state. But Micawber’s — and Dickens’ — drink of choice is a good one; when it’s cold and gloomy outside, the last thing you need is a cocktail with ice cubes in it. Like David Copperfield, these three winter cocktails are classics. And they’re easy to make (and each recipe serves four). So gather ‘round the stove and get ready to warm inside and out.

Spiked Apple Cider



6 oz dark rum
18 oz apple cider
2 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 vanilla bean pod

Preparation: Heat up apple cider and rum together. Melt butter in a microwave and remove the vanilla beans from their pod using a knife. In a small bowl, mix together butter, maple syrup and vanilla beans. Remove cider and rum from heat when they start to steam, and stir in the maple butter mixture to taste.

Tasting Notes: The apple cider dominates this drink, but the dark rum shows up once in a while with a little kick. The butter creates a velvety texture that smooths out the whole cocktail, and the maple syrup is the perfect hint of sweetness to balance the cider’s acidity.

Hot Toddy



8 oz whisky
8 oz water
1 lemon
2 tbsp honey

Preparation: Like the previous drink, heat whisky and water together on a stovetop. Squeeze in lemon juice and add honey. Heat up to point of steaming and turn off. Add more lemon juice and honey to taste.

Tasting Notes: In Great Britain, people used to drink the Hot Toddy to relieve a cold. Breathe in some of its fragrant steam and your pipes will open up — it’s essentially a spiked lemon tea.

Mulled Red Wine with Port



1 bottle ruby port
1 bottle red wine
3 oranges
1 lemon
2 star anise pods
20 whole cloves
2 tbsp ground nutmeg
½ cup granulated sugar

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Stud the oranges and lemon with five cloves each and place on a baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the fruit and cut in half. Place the red wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and star anise in a large saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the clove-studded fruit halves and continue stirring at low heat for another 20 minutes. Take off heat, remove the fruit and star anise. Squeeze out extra juice and strain out any remaining pulp or bits. Serve warm.

Tasting Notes: Also known as the Smoking Bishop, it tastes like a warm sangria with an extra bite from the cloves and nutmeg.