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Warm up with a hot cocktail

December 2, 2019

Photo: The Social
Photo: The Social

5 things you need to know about hot cocktails

By Erin Henderson

Hello, drink lovers! Did you see me on CTV’s The Social last Thursday?

If you tuned in, not only do you know that I was wearing a fabulous green ensemble (Banana Republic, BTW), but you also know I was featuring some of my favourite hot cocktails for these cold and blustery days.

For long-time followers, you’re well acquainted with how much I love this Hot Buttered Bourbon Apple Cider. And on the show, I shared recipes for my Vegan Whisky Chai, Hot Gin Punch, Hot Herbal Lemon Drop, and a slightly different hot apple cider idea – which is just as delish as the original.

Care to try your hand at one of these steaming beauties? They are not difficult to make, but there are a few tricks. Below, I outline five tips for creating a tempting toasty tipple to titillate and tease your taste buds.

Patience is a virtue
Admittedly one I struggle with, but in the case of hot cocktails, good things really do come to those who wait. Typically, you are flavouring these winter warmers with various spices and fruits, so you need to allow time for the flavours to come together. A good 15-20 minutes will really make the ingredients pop.

Low and slow
You may be tempted to bring this boozy stew to a rapid boil so you can get to drinking faster. If flavours need 20 minutes at a simmer, wouldn’t blasting the whole works for five minutes work just as well? Nope. Don't even think about it.

Top shelf
The ingredients you will be adding to your cocktail are going to be the dominating flavours: cinnamon, cloves, chai, orange, rosemary… so you really want top quality. Last year’s cinnamon sticks sitting in the back of the cupboard aren't going to yield flavourful results. Go with fresh, quality ingredients and reap the drinkable rewards.

Bar rail booze
So, yes, you want best-in-show ingredients, but you needn’t break the bank on your hooch. Why? Because we’re mixing flavours, silly! The whisky, rum or liqueur base is simply that: a supporting, albeit very important, character.

Strain and refresh
You know how chefs recommend that you throw out the carrots, celery and onions you used to start a sauce or stew, and replace with fresh ones to finish it off? Same for your hot drink ingredients. Once the spices, herbs and fruits have done their flavour-infusing job, it’s time to retire them. Strain your mixture through a fine mesh sieve, leave behind your limp and now flavourless ingredients, and garnish your drink with fresh ones.

Keep your drink hotter longer by pre-heating your mug. Fill with boiling water, then dump the water just before pouring in your cocktail.

If you try any of these drinks, be sure to take a picture and tag us at @drinktotours on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our page.

Thirsty for more? Join us on our drink tours to Toronto’s best restaurants and bars, or give the joy of a tour or experience with a gift certificate available in any denomination.