It's snowing again. That's true of the place where I live, and probably of the place where you live, because apparently, Mother Nature and Father Time have colluded to ensure that this winter will never end, ever. As if all this snow weren't enough, we'll spend the next seven or so years hearing about how the entirety of New England HAS SUFFAHED LIKE YOU AND YAH MOTHAH HAVE NEVAH SUFFAHED.
It's enough to drive anyone to drink, which provides a perfect segue into this roundup of five hot alcoholic beverages you can and should enjoy during this, our interminable winter of sorrow.
1 teaspoon sugar*
1 thin slice lemon
3 oz. boiling water
2 oz. bourbon
Put the sugar and lemon slice in a mug, and pour 1 oz. of boiling water over them while stirring. Allow the lemon to steep in the hot water for five minutes before adding the remaining water and the bourbon.
That's a pretty official-sounding recipe, and for good reason— I consulted my Playboy Bartender's Guide to bring some gravitas to today's proceedings. It's one of the best books in my reference collection, and there's an entire chapter devoted to hot drinks, so it seemed like a great choice, but I think some hedging is in order. For example, their hot toddy recipe calls for the addition of three whole cloves and a 1-inch stick of cinnamon to the mix. I'll level with you: I think that's unnecessary and also pretty heavy-handed—three cloves is A LOT of clove, ya know? Those lil guys pack a damn punch.
You'll also note that I put an asterisk next to their call for sugar, because I use honey in the toddies I make at home, I guess because that's how my dad made them for me? In turn, that might be because they were sick-day treats, and the honey is particularly good on sore throats. Anyway! You should feel free to use the sugar, if you prefer it, or honey, if that's more to your liking, or maple syrup or agave or Lyle's Golden Syrup or whatever sweetening agent you so choose. It's your toddy. Work it out the way you want.
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
12 whole allspice berries
12 whole cloves
4-inch cinnamon stick
750 mL dry red wine
In a large saucepan, combine water, sugar, lemon and orange slices, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Add the wine—750 mL is just a standard bottle size, but it's helpful to include the specific measurement for those of you who are pouring your wine from a box—and bring it just to the boiling point before reducing the heat again and simmering for 10 minutes.
To serve, pour the mulled wine into mugs, or glasses that are thick enough to stand up to the heated drink. Include a slice of fruit and a few nuts and berries for funsies. Mulled wine is one of those things that has the added bonus of making your home smell awesome.
1½ oz. applejack
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 oz. water
2 whole allspice berries
1 stick cinnamon
2-inch strip lemon peel
½ oz. 151-proof rum
An apple something-or-other was a requirement for this list, and who among us doesn't love the word grog? We should all be introducing far more grog into our lives in these colden times. Or just in general! Like, Gronk should retire the Gronktini in favor of marketing Gronk Grog; it would be the hotness.
I will not even apologize for that pun, no I will not.
The thing about this particular grog is that it really captures the essence of Gronk in that it gets set on fire. HOW FUN AND GRONKISH! Your instructions for this are to put the applejack, sugar, water, allspice, and cinnamon into a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour into a mug along with the lemon peel. Float the rum on top of the drink and set it on fire, allowing it to burn for 30 seconds before stirring to stop the flaming. ALLOW THE MUG TO COOL BEFORE YOU DRINK OUT OF IT. It will be hot. You will burn yourself. Gronk will definitely burn himself. Take the first sip or two or three using a spoon, is a good idea.
5-6 oz. freshly brewed coffee
1½ oz. Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon sugar
Probably most of you don't actually have Irish-coffee glasses in your home, which is fine. Use a mug! But if you do have specific Irish-coffee glasses on hand, fantastic. How jaunty of you! Warm those up in very hot water before pouring in the coffee and whiskey. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve, then top with a mountain of whipped cream, because enjoying a drink topped with mountains of whipped cream is one of the great benefits of snow days.
Hot Buttered Rum
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice berries
1-inch stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ oz. light rum
½ oz. dark rum
1 teaspoon sweet butter
Put the nuts and berries, so to speak, into a mug along with the sugar. Pour a tablespoon or two of boiling water over the sugar and spices, and allow that to steep for five minutes. Add the rum, two ounces more of the boiling water, and the butter, stirring until the butter dissolves. Add more sugar to taste.
About that butter: I deliberately left the term the Playboy Bartender's Guide used for that butter in here so I could tell you this thing that I always have to Google to make sure I got it right: sweet butter = unsalted butter.
I also want to note that this recipe—like the one for the hot toddy, and the mulled wine, and probably even the apple grog—calls for what seems to me, given my fairly educated understanding of how those things react to heat, like far, far too much clove/allspice/cinnamon. So maybe cut down on those? You can always add more if you find you want a more robust clove/allspice/cinnamon experience. It's also worth saying that if you only have one or two of those items in the house, stick with what you've got. Your grog won't be rendered undrinkable due to the absence of allspice. It may be tempting to use more, say, clove to compensate for the lack of allspice berries, but don't do that—that could potentially render the grog undrinkable, and undrinkable grog is a fate worse than having to endure another blasted snowstorm.
All recipes adapted from The Playboy Bartender's Guide by Thomas Mario (Barnes & Noble Books)
Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume); more of her cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found onTwitter, Kinja, and Tumblr.
Image via Shutterstock.
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