Look out for these winter warming drinks in your local Good Pub or stock up on the ingredients to make them at home…
Irish Coffee – one part whiskey to four parts hot coffee and a teaspoon of sugar in an Irish-coffee glass (with a handle) and topped up with a layer of thick cream poured over the back of a spoon. Sod ’em and begorrah – I’ll have two!
Eggnog – one egg to two parts each of light rum and brandy, three of single cream and simple syrup to taste, shaken with ice, strained into a highball glass and finished with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Omitting the cream makes it an Egg Flip. Just say ‘nog’ to eggnog.
Mulled wine – (aka Glühwein in Germany) the mistake people make is to ignore the fact that if you mull crap wine, you get crap mulled wine. For each bottle of big, fruity red that you pour in to a large pan and heat at the lowest possible setting, add: one star anise, a bit of cinnamon, a cup of seriously strong Earl Grey tea, a small cup of dark rum, a heaped tablespoon of demerara sugar, a couple of peeled mandarins, clementines or satsumas or an orange studded with a few cloves – the peel itself is too bitter. The other mistake is overheating, which is a disaster because alcohol boils at 78ºC/173ºF and it will all have disappeared long before the wine itself has boiled. The temperature should be around 55–60ºC/130–140ºF at which point you’ll see nothing more dramatic than a few elegant whisps of steam coming off the pan as you ladle it into sturdy heat-proof glasses.
Sloe gin – I’ve never understood why it has this naughty image, as examplified by my mum – hello, Mum! – who made it in her youth and reminisces about it with a bit of a nudge and a wink, like they do, because, surely, if a person were going to be naughty with a bottle of gin they wouldn’t put sloes in it and bury it in the ground for six weeks, would they? They’d neck it. Originating in the Basque Country, but now popular throughout Spain, pacharán – ate patxarán to the picky Vascos – is a strongly addictive version using sweet anisinstead of gin.
Breakfast Martini – two parts gin to one part each of lemon juice and Cointreau and a teaspoon of marmalade shaken with ice, strained in to a cocktail glass and garnished with a tiny triangle of toast. Generally consumed as – rather than as an accompaniment to – the most important meal of the day.
Bloody Mary – wine writer Jonathan Ray sagely stirs six parts tomato juice with two parts vodka, one each of orange juice and dry sherry, a dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, ice and a pinch of celery salt all poured in a highball glass. A Bull Shot substitutes beef consommé for some, or all, of the tomato juice. In the USA, Mr and Mrs T’s Bloody-Mary mix is good in a pinch.