Every winter, there comes a certain point when I start craving the warming comforts of hot chocolate and mulled wine.
I have this vague memory of being outdoors in a cold blustery place, possibly waiting on some line or queue – for what, I cannot remember. I do remember ordering hot chocolate from a street stall to stay warm and then someone that I might have known, or it could have been a complete stranger, pulled out a flask of Jägermeister and splashed some into my hot cocoa. I liked it so much that I often think that plain hot chocolate is incomplete without a shot of Jäger. That recipe is simple: take a cup of your favorite hot chocolate and just add a little (or a lot) of Jägermeister.
As for mulled wine, I have tried to remember the first time that I ever tasted it but I can’t seem to bring back any memories prior to the one from Dubai at my friend Billie Mac’s apartment where someone was sticking cloves into an orange before tossing it into a pot of sugar and spices. It baffles me that I’ve never had mulled wine during the cold winters I’ve spent in New York, Chicago, and Edinburgh nor in any of my ski vacations – places where mulled wine would have been more appropriate than the desert climes of Dubai.
This holiday season, I’ve enjoyed making and drinking this warm, spicy and sweet concoction with different combinations of spices, wines, fruits, and liquors. For the red wine, choose anything you would normally enjoy drinking but don’t use expensive bottles (save those for drinking unadulterated). I’ve tried Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet and all have worked deliciously well.
My latest combination included a small piece of ginger steeped in the spice mixture and a tiny splash of Scotch Whisky at the end. I don’t normally use an expensive Whisky like Springbank 10 but that’s all that was in our house this week and it’s Christmas so why not indulge a little?
Enjoy and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season!
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- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 small orange, quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 ts vanilla extract
- 2 whole star anise
- 1-inch size piece of ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 shot of Scotch (about 2 Tablespoons)
- Put sugar and water in a pot over medium heat and boil water until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add remaining ingredients except for the red wine and let simmer for 10 minutes. I like to squeeze the juices of the orange and the lemon into the pot before tossing them in.
- Add the red wine and the shot of Scotch and gently heat through for about 5 minutes but do not allow to boil or you will boil away the alcohol.
- Sieve the wine into another pot or bowl and serve hot.