It's winter, the "C" word is nearly upon us, and it's time for a damn good mulling. We’re not talking vats of over-boiled vin du table and Lidl’s own orange juice, but steaming mugs of spice-laced warmers spiked with a glug of something strong.
Thus, we’ve called on five of the UK’s top bartenders to pass on their best hot cocktail recipes. Featuring a variety of weird and wonderful spirits (think Cherry Heering and Elements Eight spiced rum), we’ve got the warm end the drinks pool covered. With everything from the positively Chaucerian to more contemporary tipples on offer, winter, it seems, really is just an excuse to drink more.
The wine-based one - Mulled Wine
By Rico Dynan of Jake’s Bar, Leeds
Rico Dynan's booze philosophy goes something like this, “when you do punches, you go for it”. With seven bottles of alcohol in this recipe – yes, seven – he’s definitely not pulling those punches. The secret to this mulled wine is the rum-infused spiced syrup base, which makes for an intensely festive flavour. It’d be a waste to use good wine, so save your Barolos for sipping and throw in a hearty Merlot.
6 bottles heavy red wine
1 bottle Elements Eight spiced rum
For the Sugar syrup -
2 cups sugar
2 big oranges, diced
3 lemons, zested and juiced
200g fresh cranberries
Spices: star anise, cinnamon bark/cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, fresh vanilla pods (split), cloves
Throw the oranges, lemon zest and juice, sugar, spices and fresh cranberries into a fairly sized pan. Add a slug of rum to cover the ingredients. Over a medium heat, bring to a simmer and allow the mixture to bubble until the cranberries start to pop. Pour in the rest of the rum and wine. Heat through slowly and keep on a low heat for as long as necessary.
By Nick Strangeway of Hix, Soho London
This drink just begs to be glugged from a pewter tankard. It was Nick Strangeway, head barman at Hix, who originally unearthed Lamb's Wool from a 17th century recipe book. Pair with Hix’s game bird hash for a truly medieval culinary experience.
250 ml HIX IPA or a light ale or bitter
For the Apple Purée -
500g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
A good pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tbsp root ginger, finely grated
120g demerara sugar
For the Sugar syrup -
200g granulated sugar
Spices: 4 allspice berries, peelings from the grated root ginger (above), 8 cloves, 2cm cinnamon stick
First, the sugar syrup. Put all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes; remove from the heat and cool. Mix the apples with the demerara sugar, 100ml water, nutmeg and ginger. Place in a baking tray, cover with foil and bake in an oven at 200°C until soft. Then push through a fine sieve or blend to create a purée. Heat up the beer, 10ml spiced syrup and 150ml apple purée with a small knob of butter in a pan using a whisk to froth it. Pour and garnish with grated nutmeg.
The port-based one - 69 Negus
By Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row, Angel, London
As we experienced a few weeks back at 69 Colebrook Row’s Christmas party, if Tony Conigliaro has anything to do with your drinks you’ll be downing them till dawn. Thus, this warming concoction is both elegant and intoxicating. Conigliaro’s vintage treat is adapted from The Artistry of Mixing Drinks (1936) by Frank Meier, legendary bartender of the Ritz Paris.
20ml 69 House Cognac (preferably Merlet, though any cognac will do)
15ml Sugar syrup
75ml Boiling water
Garnish: grated nutmeg
Boil the water, combine the rest of the ingredients in the double old-fashioned glass and add the boiling water. Stir briefly to mix and grate nutmeg on top to garnish.
The rum-based one - The Pampero Baked Apple Punch
By Edmund Weil of The Nightjar, Shoreditch, London
Edmund Weil, owner of the newly opened Nightjar in Shoreditch wants you to “wrap your frozen mitts around this restorative elixir”. The rum used here is Pampero, a spicy Venezuelan number. At The Nightjar this drink is served in a cauldron, which you must also do.
100ml cloudy apple juice
25 ml Pampero Especial Rum
Nightjar baked apple liqueur (makes 1.5l)
2 cups dark brown sugar (the really soft, clumpy kind)
4 baked apples (pureed)
2 cups cloudy apple juice (add another cup of you can’t be bothered to bake and puree apples - though we recommend that you do.)
2 cups brandy
Spices - 2 tsps ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, 2 cloves, 1 split vanilla pod.
First make the reduction, heat the brown sugar and apple puree/juice in a saucepan until it simmers. Do not let it boil. Add the spices, and stir while it simmers for five mins. Let the mixture cool completely and add the brandy. Ideally, you should leave this in a sealed jar mix for two weeks, shaking occasionally to let the flavours sit well together. However using it the same day is almost as good.
Heat through the cloudy apple juice with 50ml of Nightjar baked apple liqueur. Add a shot of Pampero rum. Serve in a rocks glass with a bamboo sleeve or a toddy glass with a handle.
The Scotch Whisky one - Campbeltown Cocktail
By Mike Aikman, Bramble, Edinburgh
The Campbeltown cocktail may not be hot, but is still a winter warmer. The key spirit here is Scotch Whisky, notoriously difficult to mix, something that prompted Aikman to take up the challenge. The result? A dangerously heady concoction of cherry liqueur, green chartreuse and Scotch Whisky from the Campbeltown region.
45ml Springbank 10 Year Old Whisky,
20ml Cherry Heering,
10ml Green Chartreuse
Add all ingredients into mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir all ingredients for approximately one minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
If, after all this, you’re disappointed by the lack of egg-nog in this list, try the Tom and Jerry from our cousins across the pond at US Esquire.
Words by Helena Lee