In a day and age where it snows in Florida, you'd think more people would turn to a hot drink to kill the chill.
Despite the subzero temperatures, and what seem like mile-deep snow drifts clogging practically every city east of the Mississippi this winter, people still tend to stick closely to the tried and true when it's time for happy hour or a nightcap. The continued interest in Martinis, Cosmopolitans and whatever the stars of “Jersey Shore” are drinking is evidence enough of that. So it would seem that people are fighting off the Mid-February chill with more ice - not a particularly effective approach. Luckily, there are some amazing hot drinks tailor-made to sip in front of a roaring fire surrounded by friends, or at least attractive strangers, that can take the edge off the long cold march to spring.
The Hot Toddy was originally the name for any alcoholic drink served hot. It evolved to become synonymous with a combination of water, lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and brandy or bourbon. The following recipe puts a new spin on the traditional drink that adds a bit more flavor and depth while maintaining its incredible soothing qualities. It's ideally suited for sore throats, chest colds and extended viewings of Olympic figure skating. After a few of these, it may actually be possible to understand the scoring process.
1 oz. brandy or bourbon (a sweeter bourbon, such as Four Roses or Blanton, seems to work best)
½ oz. Harlequin orange liqueur (Triple Sec works as a substitute as well)
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
Coat the bottom of a mug with the honey and add the bourbon/brandy, orange liqueur, juice of the lemon and the cinnamon stick. Heat the water to just short of boiling and add to the mug. Sprinkle the lemon zest on top and stir gently with the cinnamon stick until the honey dissolves.
Hot Buttered Rum
Dating back to colonial times, the Hot Buttered Rum had a spectacular run in this country until tavern-goers and barflies across the nation decided that butter and alcohol just don't mix. Much like bacon, however, butter makes everything better - including rum. Traditionally, the drink would be made with butter, brown sugar, rum, spices and hot water. The Heathman Hotel in Portland is credited with a more modern, and excessive, take on the drink. And since quilted jackets are an effective way to disguise a few extra pounds, the recipe is a perfect way to restore circulation after marathon snow shoveling sessions.
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups vanilla ice cream (Ben & Jerry's works perfectly)
1 oz. rum/serving (a dark rum like Pyrat is a great counterpoint to rest of the ingredients)
¾ cup hot water/serving
Heat the sugar, brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously until butter is melted. Combine with the ice cream in a mixing bowl (an electric mixer makes this much easier) and resist the temptation to drink directly from the bowl. Instead, fill mugs ¼ full with the mixture, add one ounce of rum and ¾ cup water heated nearly to boiling. Stir gently to combine all the ingredients and sprinkle nutmeg on top. This is a huge crowd-pleaser, making everyone, from in-laws to significant others to significant first dates, happy. Unless they're stuck watching the biathlon. There's just no way to salvage a party at that point.
Tom and Jerry
According to cocktail expert David Wondrich, the Tom and Jerry was originally concocted at the Planter's House Hotel in St. Louis (possibly also the birthplace of Planter's Punch), in the 1850's. The Tom and Jerry was a winter classic for the next 100 years but in the 60's pre-made Tom and Jerry batter that tasted more like Elmer's Glue than a warming winter punch killed most of the enthusiasm for it. It's still found in the Moose Lodges and Kiwanis Clubs of deepest darkest Wisconsin, and it's time to drag it back into the limelight where it belongs. It's a rich drink, traditionally including milk, eggs, sugar, ground spices and plenty of brandy. This modern take on the classic swaps the brandy for Tia Maria and rum to add some coffee flavor and tone down the sweetness slightly - better than any Frappucino could ever dream of being. The following sounds complicated, but is actually quite simple and quick to make in batches for groups.
For the batter:
Beat the egg yolks with three pounds of the sugar and add the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves until it's thick and airy. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form – just like meringue. At that point, you can slowly beat in the last ½ pound of sugar and beat until stiff. Then gently fold the whites into the yolks.
Heat water to nearly boiling, and add one heaping tablespoon of the batter to a mug. Then pour ¾ ounce Tia Maria and ½ ounce rum (a silver rum like Mount Gay Silver rum keeps the sugar levels nearly perfect) over the batter and top off with the hot water. Give it a gentle stir and call it a night.