Before a time when getting warm merely involved flipping on central heating or switching on your remote start vehicle, hot drinks were one of the best ways to take off the winter chill.
When one craved a spiked drink, they would reach for mulled wine or a hot toddy. Those hot drinks now typically associated with an older crowd, are beginning to make a comeback among up-and-coming cocktail drinkers.
The following article from Oregon Live describes how the trendy city of Portland is leading the way in bringing back new twists on traditional hot drinks. The article also includes recipes for some of the best hot drinks that you can try at home. Discover which hot drinks tickle your taste buds by sampling them at home.
Steaming hot cocktails to warm you up right…
In our modern era of Polarfleece, central heating and electronic gadgets that can turn a frigid leather car seat into a warm, soothing easy chair in a matter of moments, it’s easy to under-appreciate the role of hot drinks in our liquid heritage. But for most of American history, winter was a fearsome thing, and keeping the cold at bay required more than simply donning a sweater and throwing another log on the fire.
Today, of course, we still start our days with steaming cups of coffee or tea, and hot chocolate and mulled cider make frequent appearances in our mugs around this time of year. But there’s a type of chill that simply can’t be dispelled by a triple soy latte; for these times, it’s useful to turn to the liquor cabinet and to reach into our history of hot, boozy drinks.
Chronicles of early American drinks tell of tankards filled with a thick batter of rum, ale, cream and eggs, brought to a searing heat by plunging a red-hot loggerhead into the hissing mix. Hot punches, mulled wine and variations on the hot toddy were immensely popular in 19th-century America, and period bartender catalogs featured listings for bar kettles specially designed to fit atop a potbellied stove. In 1862, the pioneering bar guide published by New York barman Jerry Thomas listed nearly 40 recipes for hot drinks, including his signature preparation, a floor-show combination of boiling water and flaming whisky known as the Blue Blazer. Another drink from Thomas’ era — a hot, potent relative of eggnog known as the Tom & Jerry — remained a favorite winter warmer in much of the country until the mid-20th century.
Although the Tom & Jerry and the Blue Blazer have recently been resurrected by craft bartenders, the contemporary selection of hot drinks is still much smaller than it was a century ago. But each winter, as the mercury takes a dip, more bartenders dig out vintage recipes and give them fresh tweaks before presenting these preparations to shivering guests. Familiar drinks such as the hot toddy and hot buttered rum, along with their modern relatives, are increasingly appearing on bar menus alongside hot drinks of a more recent vintage, such as the rich and warming Spanish Coffee, which Huber’s has been famous for since putting it on the menu in the 1970s.
This winter, Portland bartenders are preparing a mighty alcoholic arsenal to defeat the season’s chill. At Kask, Tommy Klus is formulating plans to offer three-drink flights of hot toddies, with each version made with a different base spirit and sweetener, so guests can sample a whisky toddy flavored with honey alongside a mezcal toddy with agave nectar, and a rum toddy with demerara sugar. Hot buttered rum gets a distinctly different twist at Teardrop Lounge, where the venerable drink is made with hot cider and topped with foie gras butter. At Clyde Common, a more classically styled hot buttered rum is flavored with nutmeg, allspice and cloves, and given extra richness with vanilla ice cream. At Paragon in the Pearl District, beverage director Bob Brunner recently added an Allspice Toddy to the season’s menu, along with the Barnburner, a toddy-like combination of apple brandy and ginger liqueur.
Rum Club bartender Dave Shenaut plans to make hot drinks a major feature of the season’s menu. Shenaut is incorporating a single-origin brew from Water Avenue Coffee into upscale tweaks of classic Spanish and Irish coffees, as well as offering rum-based toddies and experimenting with more elaborate preparations.
“We’re talking about doing tiki toddies, bringing in tropical fruit flavors and adding that to warm spice flavors,” Shenaut says. “Classic tiki ingredients like falernum or house-made almond syrup, they go great in hot drinks.”
Rum Club will also take cocktails typically prepared cold and reinterpret them as hot drinks, such as a classic Bijou reimagined as a rum-based toddy with the French aperitif Bonal and yellow Chartreuse. And inspired by the flaming flair of Huber’s Spanish Coffee, Shenaut is also working on variations of Jerry Thomas’ Blue Blazer, a recent manifestation of which — dubbed the Blue Blue Blazer — was made with high-proof Jamaican rum and blue curaçao.
Hot drinks have largely been overlooked during the current cocktail renaissance, but this winter is seeing bartenders in Portland and across the country digging into the category with fresh energy. For Shenaut, placing hot drinks in the season’s spotlight offers something of a creative challenge, but the real motivation is provided by the simple pleasure such drinks can bring on a dark, frigid winter evening.
“We’re not going to do anything groundbreaking, and we aren’t going to change drinking culture with these,” Shenaut says. “But knowing you can get a really good hot drink that’s not just coffee, bourbon and whipped cream — that’s really appealing.”
Waits and Measures
Recipe by Dave Shenaut, Rum Club, Portland
Makes 1 serving
Rum Club barman (and Tom Waits fan) Dave Shenaut took inspiration from a classic cocktail called the Bijou (normally served cold) and gave it a toddy twist, resulting in this beguiling, powerfully flavored winter warmer.
- 1 1/2 ounces aged Cuban-style rum
- (Shenaut uses Flor de Caña 4-year-old gold rum)
- 1 1/2 ounces Bonal Gentiane-Quina
- 1/2 ounce white Martinique rum (Rhum JM Blanc is recommended)
- 1/2 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup (see below)
- 2 ounces boiling water
- Garnish: orange wheel studded with 2 cloves
Rinse a glass toddy mug with boiling water to preheat, then add ingredients and stir to combine. Garnish with the orange wheel.
To make the honey syrup: Combine 1/2 cup honey with 1/2 cup hot water and stir until well mixed. Keep refrigerated until use.
Tom & Jerry
Makes 12 servings
First introduced in the mid-1800s, the Tom & Jerry remained a cold-weather favorite for more than 100 years — in the ’50s and ’60s it inspired parties equipped with a special mug and punch-bowl set — before dwindling in popularity in the late 20th century (though it’s still a favorite in the Midwest). Audrey Saunders, owner of Pegu Club in New York City and now a resident of Seattle, is one of the craft bartenders credited with reviving the Tom & Jerry’s fortunes. This is an adaptation of her take on the classic drink. It’s like a lighter, frothier, more potent version of eggnog (yes, it has raw eggs). The batter may be prepared in advance, but keep it refrigerated, stir it well before serving and use it the same day you make it.
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 pound granulated sugar
- 1 ounce aged Cuban-style rum (Bacardi 8 is recommended)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 6 egg whites
- 8 cups whole milk
- 1/2 750ml bottle aged Cuban-style rum (Bacardi 8 is recommended)
- 1/2 750ml bottle VS Cognac (Courvoisier is recommended)
- Freshly grated nutmeg
To prepare the batter: Beat the yolks until well mixed, then whisk in the sugar, rum, vanilla, spices and bitters. Beat until thoroughly combined. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into yolk mixture until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve: Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot, but not boiling. Give the batter a stir, then scoop 2 ounces of batter into a Tom & Jerry cup or a toddy mug. Add 1 ounce rum and 1 ounce cognac, then fill the mug with hot milk, stirring as you add the hot liquid so a nice foam develops on top of the drink (for a less rich Tom & Jerry, replace half of the hot milk with boiling water). Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.
Now the next time that you’re feeling chilly, you can kick start the warmth by mixing yourself one of these sophisticated hot drinks! Nothing makes winter a little bit warmer like some hot drinks spiked with liquor to warm your insides.
Are you feeling like these trendy hot drinks might be something you’d like to try for yourself? Or, maybe you’d like to come up with your own personal recipes for hot drinks to share with your friends. Julio’s Liquors stocks one of the largest varieties of alcohol in New England, so visit us today for all of your cocktail needs!