Five winter warmers

Jerry Thomas fixing a Blue Blazer

Jerry Thomas fixing a Blue Blazer

‘Tis the season to be merry, fa la la and all that. Just why any one season deserves that accolade over another I couldn’t say but winter certainly is the one to be warm and merry. That’s why I’m sharing my top five hot drinks recipes, to help keep you insulated over the bank holiday.

My Scottish father brought me up on hot alcoholic winter drinks, from warmed cherry brandy as a ‘tonic’ to whisky toddies to keep away a cold, but I’ve noticed my English peers often cough and splutter on drinking hot spirits. The trick is to not serve them piping hot or the rising alcoholic fumes will choke you. And that means no tentative sipping either – swift, short gulps are the way to do it.

It’s also good to note a few London bars (see A drop of Christmas spirit) are harking back to former, warmer times by including traditional punches and flamboyantly flamed blazers on their winter menus. However until the practice of serving a good Black Stripe is more widespread, I shall continue to rely on my kettle and my Dad’s toddy recipe to beat the winter chill.

(For those drinks which are topped with boiling water, I recommend gently warming the other ingredients first. See the  Hot Gin Gin for a good technique for this.)

1. Fruit-and-nut-Chase

(I named this drink is in memory of the genius of Frank Muir)

Fruit and nut Chase

A Fruit and nut Chase cocktail

50 ml Chase Marmalade vodka (or shake a dollop of orange marmalade up with 50 ml vodka and strain)
25 ml chestnut liqueur (you could substitute Fra Angelico or Amaretto or Creme de Noyeaux – different effects but still would be good)
Few dashes mole bitters (or add a few dashes of brown creme de cacao and a dash of tabasco)
50 ml boiling water

Add all the ingredients to a tumbler and stir well. Rub an orange twist round the edge of the glass and squeeze over drink before dropping in.

2. Hot Gin Gin Punch

50 ml gin
25 ml Kings Ginger liqueur
25 ml lemon juice
25 ml sugar syrup
dash orange bitters

Fill a tumbler with hot water. Balance a brandy glass on the tumbler and gently rotate to warm the glass.  Add all the ingredients, except the bitters, and continue to rotate the glass until the contents are warmed through. Add the dash of bitters and serve.

(Thanks to Paolo at The Hide Bar in Bermondsey for showing me the brandy glass technique)

3.  Caribbean Christmas punch

Caribbean Christmas punch

Caribbean Christmas punch

50 ml rum
25 ml lime
12.5 ml Pimento Dram
12.5 ml agave syrup
75 ml boiling water

Add all the ingredients to a tumbler and stir well. Serve with a fresh chilli garnish.

4. Auld Spice

50 ml Whisky
10 ml Pimento Dram
25 -40 ml lemon to taste
100 ml  boiling water
2 -3 tsps honey to taste

Add all ingredients to a tumbled and stir with a cinnamon stick. I’ve been vague with lemon/honey ratios as I like my toddies tart but find most people prefer just 25 ml of lemon.

5. Hot Cox

Hot Cox cocktail

Hot Cox cocktail

50 ml rum or gin
100 ml pressed cox apple juice
10 ml ginger cordial (I used Belvoir for its hot gingeriness – alternately shake up a gingery syrup of 1:1 fresh juiced ginger and sugar)
dash orange bitters (optional)

Gently warm first three ingredients in a pan. Pour into a tumbler, add bitters and serve with a cinnamon stick.


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