Hot Buttered Fussy
Ice plays a critical role in cocktails. It should be freshly made with good-tasting water. And if you are having a cocktail party, take my advice and make sure you have a lot more than you think you will need. When I am mixing drinks I go through a shocking volume of the stuff. I never run out of booze, but I’ll sometimes run out of ice.
In these winter months, I look out my window and see all of the light fluffy snow coating the world outside. Secretly I want to scoop some up, bring it indoors, and use it as the foundation for some delicious boozy concoction.
Unfortunately, just as nature bestows this stunning, billowy, icy bounty on the world, my desire for a cold drink has dried up. Now is the time for warmth, because it’s really, really cold out there.
Warm drinks come in many forms. From the deceptively simple hot toddy to things that require a bit more preparation, like hot buttered rum. Luckily for all of us, my friends in Los Angeles have spent much of December writing up a bunch of delicious recipes for drinks to warm all us poor souls in the tundra.
The classic hot toddy isn’t fancy. In my opinion the trick is to keep the drink as hot as possible for as long as possible. But it’s a simple combination of booze, sugar, citrus and spice. Some people reach for brandy, others whiskey or rum, but there is no reason you couldn’t have a hot gin toddy. It’s been done.
Sugar can be used, syrups are acceptable, but I like honey. Honey is especially lovely in a hot toddy based on whiskey. It’s just so damn soothing. Plus I understand that lemon and honey are both good for a sore throat, so this choice of sweetener really ups the drink’s medicinal effects. Right?
Anyhow, lemons can be juiced, slices of fruit can be floated, or you could simply decide to include just the zest. But whatever form you choose, in an effort to keep the drink hot, I would highly recommend using fruit that is at room temperature.
But getting back to this business of keeping your toddy hot. It all begins with a warm mug, which can be easily done by filling the vessel with boiling water and then dumping it out. How much water you use is a matter of personal taste. A good place to start is twice the volume of booze. So for two ounces of whiskey, you can see what you think of four ounces of hot water.
Think of the hot toddy as a boozy tisane.
I want to keep stirring to a minimum, since aerating the drink will cool it down. So I prefer to put my sugar, booze and citrus into the warm mug, add a little bit of hot water to make sure everything is well dissolved, and then bring the drink back up to full temperature with a healthy pour of hot boiling water.
If you want to mess around with cloves or cinnamon sticks or grating nutmeg, I’m not going to bother you about that. But I keep mine simple.
What is decidedly less simple are some of the stunning hot drinks that are on display at the 12 Bottle Bar. Here are a few that I would encourage you to explore at your leisure. After all, this is a three-day weekend for many.
Hot Buttered Rum
Understandably a drink that has a floating, if melting, pat of butter on top isn’t for everyone. But this is winter. If you don’t pack on that winter weight you are likely to get yourself a nasty case of hypothermia. Now drink your butter.
Tom and Jerry
In a similar vein, but far less visceral, is the Tom and Jerry. It requires eggs instead of butter, but it still falls squarely in the category of drinks that will stick to your arteries. It’s a combination of rum and brandy. And for those who really enjoy drinks that are ideally served in their own dedicated glassware, this is the cocktail for you.
This white glögg has no batter at all. Rather, it’s a hot mulled wine fortified with brandy. What’s more, it calls for Riesling, which makes me think that it could be the perfect winter cocktail for local blogging superstar Kristi Gustafson.
Charles Dickens’ Punch
If you are having a party and don’t mind playing with fire, this is the hot drink for you. The ingredients are fairly straight forward, but the preparation of this punch requires a bit of finesse with pyrotechnics. If you try this, please be careful. And perhaps it’s best to attempt this punch at the beginning of the night.
Have a great weekend. Stay warm.