Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Warm-Your-Belly Drinks

Starbucks has the red cups out, people are wrapping themselves up in non-hipsterish scarves and we've finally had our first winter storm in the area. We're officially in snuggle season as we finish our reserves of Halloween candy, get out the down jackets, turn on the heaters and begin to nest. I like to stand about three inches directly in front of the fireplace during the autumn and winter. You can find me there toasting my butt most of the day when I'm at home rather than just wrapped in a blanket on the couch. In fact, I am there now.

As you are prepared to wrap yourselves in wool and shut yourselves in for the season, cozy up to a warm beverage that's different from your normal latte or Swiss Miss hot chocolate packet routine. Ditch the powder and drink something real that warms your belly. Here's a list of my picks along with simple recipes. The first few are sans alcohol and the rest of the recipes are cocktail-rific:

Spiced Cider
This is incredibly easy to make and your house will smell like autumn. Making it yourself on your stovetop is oodles and oodles more fabulous than those icky sugary spiced cider packets. Hit up a local farmer's market for fresh cider and you'll thank me.

Vietnamese Coffee
You can drink it iced during the summer and hot during the winter. It's perfect. It's how I started drinking coffee in the first place. This recipe is for a perfect, step-by-step fancy version; just simply skip adding ice. Otherwise, all you need to do is flavor your espresso with sweetened condensed milk.

I mean real tea. Loose leaf tea like the hippies drink. When's the last time you took a few minutes to heat water in a teapot and steep tea that doesn't come in little paper packets stapled to a cute little paper tag? Did you even know you're supposed to heat water to different temperatures for different teas? Buy some fine tea - like jasmine tea, some vanilla rooibos, or some really good earl grey like you're Captain Jean Luc Picard and make it correctly like it's a ritual. You'll relax and thank me later.

Mexican Hot Chocolate
Ever since we tried this chili, cinnamon, chocolate stuff, our hearts have gone pitter patter. The recipe I listed is pretty involved but if you want to cheat, I highly recommend the Theo chocolate drinking chocolate. The chili warms your tummy from the inside out.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
WHAT? Yes, you can drink the equivalent of a Reese's peanut butter cup. No, you can't microwave a peanut butter cup with some milk for the same thing. However, you can be an extra fatty by topping a cup with some whipped cream and crumbled peanut butter cup. You're welcome.

Hot buttered rum (or lemonade)
Hot buttered rum is one of my favorite cold-weather drinks of all time. It's satisfyingly rich, not too sweet and warms your belly with rum! For a non alcoholic version, add some fresh lemon juice instead of rum and it's a hot buttered lemonade. But seriously, who doesn't want rum? Substitute brandy or whiskey if you're out of spiced rum. If you want the premade batter, Harvey's is the best and not because it has a demented-looking bunny on the package.

Mulled Wine
Black Walnut Manhattan
It's just winter's sangria, right? Bring some to a party instead of the usual obligatory bottle of wine and your friends will love you.

Tom and Jerry
This is not drinking a cartoon cat and mouse but if you happened to have a Tom & Jerry mug, you could be super hipsterish when you drink this fabulous cocktail.

Hot Toddy
A hot toddy is for folks who prefer whiskey and think a hot buttered rum is too rich and sweet. This warm drink is brighter and zippier than a hot buttered rum.

Black Walnut Manhattan
A Manhattan seems like a winter-appropriate cocktail but a dash of black walnut liqueur adds an autumn or winter earthiness improving upon the standard.

Winter is Coming
Nick's favorite drink of all time was enjoyed at Art of the Table in Wallingford for a SRW many moons ago. Tons of "Winter is Coming" drinks abound but this one takes the cake. We only have a dark, grainy photo of the description but it contains rye, Fernet, Cocchi Di Torino (a vermouth with a moscato base), lemon & chili bitters. Report back if you get the proportions right.