There’s nothing like a warm cocktail to take the edge off winter and make you festively-tipsy. Read on for a bit of history on the world’s best winter cocktails, as well as the best places to enjoy them.
Hot Toddy in India
This sweet and soothing brew hails from India
Not only is it downright delicious, the hot toddy is also celebrated as a cure for the common cold. Though it’s gone through many incarnations since, it’s believed that the first Hot Toddy was Inspired by a local drink in British-controlled India. Made from fermented palm sap and known in Hindi as tārī, this drink was a sweet and spicy concoction served cold. Word soon spread and the drink’s popularity spread to North America and Britain, culminating in the current Hot Toddy; a blend of whiskey, rum or brandy mixed with honey, lemon and spices. Whether you’re ill or not, treat yourself to a lovingly-brewed, signature Spiced Toddy at Grandmama’s Café in Mumbai and stay a short rickshaw ride away at the opulent St. Regis Mumbai.
Irish Coffee in Ireland
Irish Coffee is *the* poison for the sweet-toothed
As with so many of the world’s best recipes, the Irish Coffee was discovered by accident. In an attempt to warm a weary group of stranded North American Pan Am passengers in County Limerick, chef joe Sheridan added a splash of whiskey to some sweetened coffee with fresh cream. The passengers enquired if they were being served Brazilian coffee, so Sheridan christened it ‘irish coffee’ and a legend was born. For the best Irish coffee available, head straight to Dublin; Vice Coffee Inc is renowned for its take on this warming cocktail as well as its Guinness cake, while establishments like O’Donoghue’s and O’Sullivans do a mean Irish coffee alongside a traditional Irish pub atmosphere. Check into the boutique Morgan Hotel, just across the river from Vice Coffee Inc and many of Dublin’s popular bars.
Glühwein in Germany
Sip on a Glühwein with a festive gingerbread
As with so much of European culture, spiced wine served warm started with the Romans. Word spread through medieval Europe and soon it became a festive tradition with almost identical variations cropping up in England, France and Germany, known as mulled wine, vin chaud and Glühwein respectively. Made with red wine, citrus fruits, sugar and cinnamon and cloves, German Glühwein is served at traditional Christmas markets, often with gingerbread. A mug of this moreish cocktail costs about 5 Euros, usually including a deposit for the mug, so you can wander the nutcracker and Christmas ornament aisles while you sip and savour. The Savoy Hotel is centrally-located for checking out the city’s famous Christmas markets.
Hot Buttered Rum in Jamaica
Warm your spirit with a Jamaican Hot Buttered Rum
Though drinking hot rum on a Caribbean island in beating sunshine seems a bit counterproductive, Jamaican rum is worth it. After the British Royal Navy invaded Jamaica in 1655 and rum replaced brandy as the sailors’ daily ration, word spread of this delectable liquor, leading to it being imported in bulk to distilleries in Europe and the USA. Working its way into warming winter drinks, it started being mixed with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and crucially – a pat of butter. Stay at Kingston’s magnificent Tranquility Estate and whip up a hot buttered rum to enjoy as a warming nightcap on the terrace overlooking the Kingston hills.
Tom & Jerry in USA
The French Quarter in New Orleans is the place to go for a Tom & Jerry. Photo credit: Brian Huff
Like a cross between a Hot Toddy and Eggnog, the Tom & Jerry is a thick, indulgent cocktail that couldn’t be more perfect for the festive season. Though it’s become a North American staple, it was actually created by a British writer called Pierce Egan in the 1820s. Sip this sweet, syrupy concoction through its brandy-laced, nutmeg-dusted froth in a generously-sized mug or bowl. Try it on Christmas Eve in New Orleans when one of the city’s most iconic bars, Arnaud’s French 75, makes the cocktail for people to take with them as they walk around the festive French Quarter. Stay at Hotel Royal New Orleans, a beautiful, traditional New Orleans house with a courtyard in the French Quarter.
Hot Chocolate with Tequila in Mexico
Find hot chocolate to end all hot chocolate in Mexico
For the best hot chocolate (and tequila) of all time head to the place where they’ve been brewed together for millennia – Mexico. Known as chocolate caliente, hot chocolate over here is simply made from chocolate and milk, with added cinnamon, cayenne pepper and/or chilli, best served with some churros and, of course, a splash of liquor. Following Mayan traditions, organic dark chocolate and high-quality tequila are used for the thickest, creamiest and most potent warm winter concoction and El Moro in Mexico City is a chocolate caliente institution (though without the tequila); stay just around the corner at Hotel Marlowe.