Did you ever notice that drinking a shot of alcohol makes your entire tummy feel warm? It’s a very short-lived experience, and I’m not expert enough in either physiology or thermodynamics to explain the phenomenon, but people have believed for centuries that drinking a little bit of distilled spirits can make you feel a touch warmer when it’s cold outside. It’s high season to share a few cocktails that can bring that warm inner glow to your holiday festivities!
Three words: Hot. Buttered. Rum.
The fastest way to get your fingers warm on a cold night is by wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of something hot. Fill your cup with a little toasty-warm spiced cheer as you enjoy a drink that your parents probably sipped back in the day: the classic hot buttered rum. You probably already have most of the ingredients you need for this tasty beverage, which starts with a preparation called “batter.”
Hot Buttered Rum Batter
Makes enough for 15 drinks
- 3 cups brown sugar
- ½ cup (4 oz, 1 stick) unsalted butter (softened)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ tablespoon dark rum
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Using an electric mixer, blend all ingredients together.
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Batter should keep well for at least 4 weeks in the fridge.
To serve, scoop 1.5 tablespoons batter into the bottom of a mug (a coffee mug or thick-walled glass mug works well). Add 1½ ounces of dark or amber rum (Myers Dark Jamaican Rum is preferable if you are out shopping). Pour 5 ounces of hot (not boiling) water over the top, and stir to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, if desired.
This being the gift-giving season, you can even make a batch of batter and package it up to share with your friends. Remember to let your giftees know that they should store the batter in the fridge until it’s consumed. And be sure to include instructions for how to prepare a mug of warmth!
Light on the egg, heavy on the nog
Egg nog is a truly American cocktail, one that can be traced back to the mid-19th century, when a version was included in the seminal 1862 “Bar-Tender’s Guide” by Jerry Thomas, the godfather of mixology. But when most people think of egg nog, they think of the thick, gloopy concoction that appears in the grocery store dairy case in the weeks before Thanksgiving, full of unpronounceable ingredients of doubtful provenance. It doesn’t have to be this way, friends!
About a decade ago, I discovered an egg nog recipe by professional bartender Jeffery Morgenthaler that whips up light and fluffy, and is comprised of ingredients that anyone could recognize as real foods. Mr. Morgenthaler’s egg nog is the only recipe I make anymore because it’s absolutely perfect as written, with a great balance of flavors. The best part is that this recipe can be made without any fussy kitchen contortions like separating eggs or folding whipped cream. All of the ingredients are added to a regular blender, which magically transforms them into a glass of true holiday cheer.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Egg Nog
Makes two servings
- 2 large eggs
- 3 oz/90 ml (by volume) superfine or baker’s sugar (NOT powdered!)
- 2 oz/60 ml brandy
- 2 oz/60 ml spiced rum (I use Sailor Jerry’s)
- 6 oz/180 ml whole milk
- 4 oz/120 ml heavy cream
- Whole nutmeg cloves, for garnish
- Beat eggs in blender for one minute on medium speed.
- Slowly add sugar and blend for one additional minute.
- With blender still running, add brandy, rum, milk and cream until combined.
- Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine and serve in chilled wine glasses or champagne coupes, grating nutmeg on top immediately before serving.
Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com.
Fruits of the season: The Washington apple cocktail
Walk into any grocery store at this time of year, and you’ll see the apples stacked high, right next to the bags of fresh cranberries. It’s their season to shine, and there’s no better way to capture the delicious flavors of these wintery fruits than in an elegant cocktail. The Washington Apple is a variation on an “apple-tini” that adds the seasonal tartness of cranberry juice. Bottoms up!
The Washington Apple
Makes one cocktail
- 1 ounce whiskey (a Canadian whiskey like Crown Royal or Canadian Club works well
- 1 ounce sour apple schnapps
- 1 ounce cranberry juice
- Garnish: apple slice
- Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake well.
- Strain into a cocktail (a.k.a. martini) glass.
- Garnish with an apple slice.
You can also turn this drink into a “long drink” by straining the contents of your cocktail shaker into a tall glass (a.k.a. Collins glass) half-filled with ice, and then top with 4 ounces of ginger ale to give it a bit of a zing (Canada Dry makes a cranberry ginger ale that works well here). Stir the contents gently to blend, and garnish with the apple slice before serving.