Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hot Toddies - Drinks to Warm Your Soul

In the dead of winter, when you are chilled to the bone, you need to warm yourself from both the outside and the inside.  While sitting by a cozy fire on a cold winter night does half the job, you need a cup of mulled wine, buttered rum, spiced cider or other soul-warming winter drink to warm up your insides.  I would contend that if you can only choose one method, the hot toddie should be your warming method of choice!  So today I thought I would share with you my favorite winter weather drinks.

One of my favorites is the simple mulled apple cider.  I always try to find a cider that has not been sweetened, but is only sweet from the natural apples.  When reading the labels you'd be surprised to find how much of it has had sugar added.  Avoid this if possible and if you need to sweeten yourself do so with a bit of brown sugar.  But this drink is best if not overly sweet.  For the mulling spices, you can make your own by putting together some cinnamon sticks, cloves and whole allspice berries, plus bits of orange and/or lemon peel.  Or you can find pre-mixed versions at many finer stores.  I place these in a tea ball (you can use cheese cloth if you don't have one) and add to the cider.  I typically use a heaping tablespoon of mulling spice with four cups of cider.  Warm the cider gently for about 20 minutes with the spice, then serve.  Consider adding a cinnamon stick for a festive touch.  Some profess sprinkling the top with nutmeg, but I don't like to see this floating around in my cider so I do not do this.  Finally, add a shot of brandy to each and stir before serving.

While we call many things a 'hot toddie' today, there was originally a drink of this name.  It is simply a mixture of boiling water, liquor and a lemon twist.  This drink was world-renowned for its curative effects before we had popular cold medications.  Some contend that a few of these will clear up a cold faster than any over-the-counter remedy.  Hot toddies can be made with any sort of brown liquor, although usually it is brandy but feel free to try scotch, bourbon or whiskey.  Place one shot of liquor and one teaspoon of sugar into a mug and fill with boiling water.  Twist a lemon peel over the hot liquid and drop it in.  Add a shot of cranberry juice to make a cranberry toddy.

Another traditional drink was recommended to me by my good friend Diane, who has recently relocated to Scotland. It's called an Oatmeal Posset. A posset is a hot Scottish drink of milk with various additions as a remedy for a cold. But whether you have a cold or not, any drink with honey and whisky is pretty much assured to make you feel better.  And since you strain out the oatmeal in the end, it's not as bad as it may sound. Follow this link to check out the recipe.

Hot Buttered Rum has been a favorite with many for decades, although you won't find many places that actually serve it these days.  Basic hot buttered rum is made by adding rum to hot spiced cider (see above, replacing the brandy with rum), and serving it with a pat of butter on top which melts before you serve it.  A health-drink this is not, but it is pretty tasty and guaranteed to warm (and perhaps clog) your heart.

After skiing or being out in the snow there is nothing quite like a Hot Scotchie.  When you're making hot chocolate for the kids, make these for the adults.  A hot scotchie is simply hot chocolate with a jigger of butterscotch schnapps added.  Like the kids drinks, it can be topped with whipped cream and a accompanied by a cookie or candy stir. Butterscotch and chocolate go quite well together.  You can also add amaretto and/or Bailey's Irish cream along with the schnapps to your cocoa if you want something with more of a kick.

Mulled wine is a Scandinavian drink that is centuries old.  Glögg is the term for mulled wine in the Nordic countries and comes with a full tradition of flaming and is as much a show as a drink.  But here at home, I just make a simple mulled wine without the pyrotechnics.  I use a good table wine, nothing too expensive, but one that will be full-bodied enough to stand up to the spices.  Pour a bottle of red wine into a large sauce pan and place on the stove top and gently warm over low heat.  Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and stir until dissolved.  Optionally, add three ounces of no-pulp orange juice.  Using a tea ball or cheese cloth, drop in two tablespoons of your mulling spices (noted above).   Let simmer, stirring occasionally, at the lowest possible setting for 20 minutes, being sure the mixture never boils.  You can refrigerate the mulled wine for a day before serving which helps to blend the spices.  If you do this, simply warm it before serving. 

Of course, there are a number of modifications you can make to teas and coffees that will also warm the cockles of your heart.  In the winter I always keep several good teas on hand.  With this I sometimes make an orange spiced tea.  For this take an orange half, lemon peel and cinnamon sticks and place in a cheese cloth tied shut with kitchen string.  Place your tea and the spice bag into a pot and poor in boiling water.  Allow to steep (without heat) for five minutes, remove the solids and pour into cups with a teaspoon of sugar.  Add a jigger of brandy if you are so inclined.  I also keep amaretto, Baily's Irish cream, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) on hand all of which make excellent additions to coffee. 
After reading this item, you might think I'm overdoing it on the alcohol.  I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.  Having a little bit of alcohol in these drinks adds to their taste and soothing effects.  As in all things, moderation is key.

1 comment:

  1. Hey David, thanks for stopping by... you will love the soup and I love these hot drinks... they are so great on these ice days we have been having lately. Old punches are all the rage... they often have citrus and rum or cream and brandy and are often warm .... what can be wrong with that????