Baby it’s Cold Outside – Hot Alcoholic Drinks for the Holidays

Baby it’s Cold Outside – Hot Alcoholic Drinks for the Holidays

Mulled Wine

I’m copying an old post on mulled wine here, plus at the bottom there are recipes for other, hot and festive drinks for the holidays. Cheers!


Who “invented” mulled wine? Why? What’s supposed to go in it, and what type of wine should you use?  All the sites I found on the internet seemed to crib off each other. To distill it for you, basically mulled wine has been around as long as wine has been around. It warmed people up in winter (and some people said it was to make bad wine taste better – a winter version of Sangria, I suppose) as well as gave them something “healthy” to drink (because water – well, it wasn’t very clean “way back when”). It can be found in almost every European country, and is often called “boiled” or “burned” wine.  Of course, you don’t want to boil or burn the wine! (Boiling burns off all the alcohol.)


First off, start with a hearty red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel will work nicely. If you’re making enough for a crowd, use two bottles – pour into a non-reactive pan (or hey, use that crock pot you got for your wedding and has that thick layer of dust on it – make sure to clean it first). If just for two to four people, use one bottle. DON’T use the cheapest wine you can find (although if you must, go ahead…); but likewise, don’t waste an expensive bottle. Anything that you like the taste of non-heated should be fine.

Next, add the spices. This will totally depend on your tastebuds. I like two cinnamon sticks – hubby likes only one. I generally put six to a dozen whole cloves, and if I had allspice, I’d toss that in, too. You can add ginger – either 1/2 teaspoon grated, or a small slice; or you could put in 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (but fresh is much better). I’ve seen recipes that include cardamom pods, star anise, even bay leaves. Experiment!

Your next addition should be another liquid. Amounts kind of depend. You can add up to a cup of plain water, a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice, or a cup of apple cider; many recipes call for adding 4 ounces of brandy (some say cherry brandy).  I started with water; next time, I think I’ll add brandy AND some OJ.

Then comes the sweetener. The amount depends on how much wine you start with. So you can add anything from 1/2 cup of white or brown sugar to 1 and 1/4 cup of honey;  start on the stingy side, and taste as you go. Add more if you need to. My guess is if you’re using Agave syrup or Stevia for your sweetener, you can use them here, too; just be VERY stingy with your amounts until it’s where you want it.

Lastly comes the fruit. Whether or not you’ve already used orange or apple juice, you might want to add strips of orange zest or lemon zest; thin slices of orange and lemon; either in the pot, or in the bottom of the mug.

Let everything sit on low; either on the back of your stove, or in your crockpot. As the day goes on, the spices and the fruit really open up into the wine, and turn it into something magical. Plus, it leaves your house smelling really festive.

Hot Buttered Rum

Here is my version of Hot Buttered Rum.  Put the tea kettle on to boil. In the meantime, get out a couple of heavy mugs that feel good in your hand. Add a tablespoon of sweet, unsalted butter at the bottom; top with 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar (to your taste).  Add a shot to a shot and a half of rum. Once the water is boiling, fill the cup with the hot water about half way. Stir briskly with a fork or a small whisk, if you have one (I do).  Add the hot water the rest of the way. Cuddle up by the fire and watch Scrooge deal with some pesky ghosts!

Rachael Ray has her own way of doing things, adding spices and Captain Morgan spiced rum and doing it up with a blender. Go here for that recipe.

Of course, Martha Stewart also has a recipe. It’s a bit more complicated, but still sounds just as tasty. Go here for that recipe.

Other Hot Holiday Drinks

I found a fun spot online called Secret Tips to the Yumiverse, and they have eight hot holiday drinks to indulge you.  Of course, there are the coffee drinks – Coffee and Bailey’s, Coffee and Kahlua, or Coffee and Irish Whiskey – but there are some other, really tasty drinks. Go give Yumi Sakugawa a look-see for some fun and festive drinks.

There you go, my dears. Enjoy this holiday season, be safe, stay warm, and hug your loved ones.  Sending out love and big squishy hugs to you all!  What’s YOUR favorite hot holiday drink?