Cold weather calls for a “Winter Warmer”. Hot drinks fit the bill. Traditional libations like the Hot Toddy and Hot Buttered Rum have been served in steamy mugs for a very long time. Flips and slings too have their genesis as hot alcoholic drinks designed to sooth the soul.
Hot drinks do more than create warm hands and a warm heart. They seem to have some medicinal value too. When winter rolls around, I consider these warm libations to be the original nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine. Of course, I don’t know how much actual medical science is behind that theory, but I’ll admit just the idea of a Hot Toddy can make even the flu seem more fun.
But I’ve decided to modernize the cool weather cocktail using a very old fashioned spirit. My version is just as comfy as its name sake, Warm Cardigan. Its highly fragrant with cardamom and chamomile tea. But it get its kick it from genever, which is considered the “original gin”. It’s often called Dutch gin, but it’s not really “gin”, though it’s made with a botanically infused neutral spirit. If you were to mix a gin and tonic or make a martini with it, you’d take one sip and wonder what kind of funky gin you were drinking. Because its base spirit is malt wine (but don’t get too hung up on the word wine). But it’s these malty notes that make it a wonderful “Winter Warmer”.
There are a lot of ways to define winter. There are even more ways to enjoy the chill and snuggle into the warmth it can create. This week on The Table Set the guys and I set out to bring a little warmth to your winter. But is winter coming or is it going? That depends on where you live. Listen up as we try to sort it all out. From warm grogs to hot pots, “what’s hot and what’s not”? GREG
The Inn at Honey Run is where I started my introduction into the Amish way of life. The inn is located in Holmes county in central Ohio, home of the world’s largest Amish community. Having spent 2 nights in Columbus, I was ready to see what this part of the country held.
The point of travel for me is to get a glimpse into what my life might be like today if I had gone (metaphorically) right instead of left. You know, chose Pepsi over Coke. I enjoyed my time in Columbus, Ohio. I could easily imagine a life for me there. But I have to be honest– that’s because Columbus has a much more urban vibe than I might have ever guessed. Or maybe I should say urbane. It has all the familiar comforts of the city life that I am used to. Great restaurants, interesting architecture, diversity and enough of a hurried pace to make me feel right at home.
What I am saying is Columbus may not be exactly the same as that left turn towards a life in Los Angeles, but it’s a flavor of cola with which I’m familiar. But I came to Ohio to taste Amish country. An area of Ohio that is neither Pepsi nor Coke– and all the (metaphorical) turns, be they left or right, are the turns your parents made before you. Where life is as close to what it was a hundred and fifty years ago as is possible in a modern world.
Which is a lot to think about.
There is no denying we are in the depths of winter. You know, the dreaded “cold and flu” season. Even here in California, the night air is getting nippier, the days a bit shorter, and more than one person in my life is miserable and sniffly.
Gone are lazy afternoons drifting into sultry evenings– sipping tall glasses of iced tea, lemonade, or even frosty margaritas. Cool weather sees us choosing steamy mugs of coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, and dare I say– hot toddies?
I want you to know that the hot toddy is more than just a beverage with a funny name. You probably associate it with ski lodges. Hot toddies and ski lodges are indeed a good combination. But more likely, when winter rolls around, you consider the hot toddy as the original nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine. Of course, I don’t know how much actual medical science is behind that theory, but I’ll admit a hot toddy can even make the flu seem more fun.
Basically a hot toddy is made with a spirit (typically some sort of whiskey) sweetened with honey, and balanced with fresh lemon juice. This combination is then warmed with a dose of tea, coffee, apple cider, or just plain hot water.
My favorite version is made with honey, lemon, black tea, and bourbon. But rum and brandy are good choices too. Simple enough, right?
Tis the season for a cocktail, a holiday cocktail; something warm and comforting. The mere idea of a steamy mug of fragrant luxury laced with a fiery shot of a seasonal spirit is warming to both body and soul.
Hot drinks have been an essential part of our social dynamic for centuries. From festive wassail gatherings in 13th century England to serving up hot “flips” in pubs and taverns all the way through to the Tom and Jerry’s of mid-century America. Nowadays warm drinks like toddys are often associated with our cool weather activities.
So I have just the thing, a crimson colored holiday cup of cheer. It is a style of mulled wine, similar to wassail, and something like a warmed sangria, though made with port. Traditionally it is scented with cloves and sour oranges, but my version has been updated just a bit. It is called a Smoking Bishop and it has come to be associated as Christmas itself.