Spicy and Warming Christmas Drinks | Wine


Waitrose Mulled Wine, Castilla La Mancha, Spain NV 2.25L (£ 14.99, Waitrose) I’m not sure the mulled wine warrants the full Felicity Cloake treatment, “how to make the perfect …”. There is no real requirement for precision. It’s meant to be tossed together, with all the ingredients followed by this imperiously vague “to taste” cook’s instructions rather than last milliliter or gram measurements. Still, I guess there are some essentials. Or at least every time I’ve tasted mulled wine the pot has had the same key constituents: cloves, cinnamon, star anise, oranges, and lemons. And the wine, of course, even if my preference goes to port, which brings more body, depth of flavor and that little extra alcohol even if the pot has been on the stove for some time, in addition to being sweet enough not to require added sugar. Still, if you can’t get tempted to make your own, Waitrose’s version, based not on port but on a sufficiently robust southern Spanish red, does this job perfectly once a year.

Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum (from £ 23.15, distillersdirect.com; masterofmalt.com; Waitrose) I understand that mulled wine is not to everyone’s taste; that it is now strongly reminiscent of downtown squares filled with rows of hangars with speakers blasting Slade and piles of slightly stale German lebkuchen. So for the Christmas fair and the mulled wine refusniks, I hit the sign saying: other spicy drinks are available! Hot cider, perhaps, which, when high in cinnamon and ginger (and with or without a pinch of calvados or ginger liqueur), in my opinion works better than wine as a hot, spicy drink of season, playing roughly the same range of flavors you would find in an apple pie. Or, better yet, the king of winter hot drinks, hot buttered rum: melted butter, maple syrup or muscovado sugar, a stick of cinnamon, and a good double measure of rum, which for a hit festive extra aromatic, could be a spicy version like the succulent Chairman’s Reserve of Saint Lucia – a drink that is as good as a late night sip solo, whatever the season.

Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer (£ 21.30, 12 x 27cl, luscombe.co.uk; £ 6.85, 4 x 27cl, abelandcole.co.uk) Ginger is the most important spice in my cooking. This is my only concession to homeopathy: this fiery heat must surely have some effect in warding off germs and strengthening my immune system. And if that turns out to be wishful thinking, it doesn’t matter: the root is also the beating heart of some of the great Christmas drinks. First among its peers, King’s Ginger Liqueur (£ 23.50, 50cl, bbr.com) updated their recipe in 2020, which may explain what I thought was a bit more definition the last time I was there. have tried. But this ginger and lemon zest distillate is not so different in spicy effect from the original version created for King Edward VII in 1903, and it is still the thing I would have in a flask on a freezing walk on Boxing Day. My other current favorite ginger drink is completely alcohol-free. As well as being delicious – the spicy heat infusion balanced with spiciness – and a perfect pairing with Thai curry, Devon’s Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer is perhaps also the best hangover antidote I’ve ever had. never tried.

Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach



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