8 warm drinks to beat back the winter chill

8 warm drinks to beat back the winter chill

Let's turn those negative degrees into positively cozy vibes.

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Hey, Google, how cold is it outside?

“Hahaha, You don’t even want to know,” says Google. “Just stay inside, find some blankets, and pray for the summer to come around.”

Okay, Google didn’t actually tell us that, but there are days when it might as well say so. When the weather report has a negative symbol next to the degrees all day long, we need as many cozy vibes as we can get, and nothing delivers them like a hot beverage.

Grabbing a steamy cup of something delicious warms your hands, face, and insides. So bust out your best mugs, because we’ve got a collection of recipes for hot drinks that’ll get you nice and toasty from the inside out.

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London Fog with Cranberry

London Fog with Cranberry

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All throughout the holiday season and beyond, you can put leftover canned cranberry sauce to good use by making this festive London fog.

To make your fog, you’ll need:

  • 1 heaping Tbsp. cranberry sauce
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 Earl Grey teabag
  • 1/2 cup milk (any kind you wish)
  • 1/2 star anise pod, 1 clove, or a sliver of fresh ginger (optional)
  • Cinnamon stick, for garnish

If using the optional star anise/clove/ginger: Add to the milk and heat in the microwave or small saucepan on the stove until it begins to steam. Set aside. Put the cranberry sauce in the bottom of a large mug and use the side of your spoon to break it up into smaller pieces. Pour in the water, add the teabag, and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the spices from the milk and discard. If desired, reheat the milk just a bit and use a foaming tool to work it into a froth. Pour over the tea and serve immediately.

Of course, you don’t need to add the cranberry sauce if you don’t have any on hand, but it does add some fun, jiggly cranberry “bubbles” to enjoy.

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Mulled wine (non-alcoholic)

Mulled wine (non-alcoholic)

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Best made in large batches, this mulled wine (minus the wine) can be enjoyed by everyone. The upside to this recipe is that it’s super customizable to your taste. Not fan of ginger? Leave it out. Can’t find star anise? Swap it for more cinnamon, or another warm spice you have on hand, like nutmeg or allspice.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 (12-oz.) bag frozen cherries
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags steeped in 1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 cup brown sugar, plus more to taste
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pods star anise
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large or 2 medium oranges, sliced

Put all the ingredients into a large pot and cover, cracking the lid slightly to allow steam to escape. Cook over high heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for at least 30 minutes. (You can leave it up to an hour if you have the time.) Taste it, and if you want a sweeter taste, add more brown sugar. Strain out the spices and serve the mulled wine immediately.

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Mulled wine (alcoholic)

Mulled wine (alcoholic)

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Photo: Emma Terhaar

This mulled wine is a great opportunity to revive leftover wine of all kinds. Vinegary bottles of red, white, and rosé can be revived in the mulling pot, and you can even combine multiple bottles if you’ve got a few different ones to use up.

First, make sure the wine you’re using isn’t too old. Hold your bottle up to the light and look to see if there’s any sediment in a red wine or color change in a white wine. If not, go ahead and boil it to be safe.

With your wine in a pot, turn to baking spices. Cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cardamom are traditional, but chai tea bags are a great substitute if you don’t have many spices. For each bottle of wine use 10 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, and either 1 pod star anise (if you’re using red wine) or 2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger (if you’re using white wine). When using cardamom, crush the pods before tossing them into the pot.

Then, add in your choice of fruit and leave some aside for garnish. Oranges are classic, but sliced apple and pear are also common. As a general rule of thumb, you can add as many as two or three types of fruit before it becomes fruit punch, and just one fruit of each type per each bottle of wine. If you have any juice on hand—orange, apple, cranberry, etc—you can add a bit for sweetening if you want.

Then heat the contents of the pot just to a simmer. As soon as you see bubbling in the pot, reduce the heat to very low. Taste the wine mixture and stir in a bit of sugar if necessary. After 10 minutes at a low temperature, the spices will be infused with the wine, but you can keep the pot heated on low for hours and it’ll only gain flavor with time.

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Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy
Hot Toddy
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On a day that is cold as shit, it might take more than one cup of something hot to truly warm you from head to toe. For days like that, we’ve got three hot toddy recipes you can throw together in a mug.

Hot toddy

  • 1.5 oz. Old Tom gin
  • 0.75 oz. honey syrup
  • 0.75 oz. lemon juice
  • lemon peel

Tiki toddy

  • 0.75 oz. aged rum
  • 0.75 oz. falernum
  • 0.75 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.75 oz. honey syrup
  • grapefruit peel

Cynar toddy

  • 1.5 oz. rye whiskey
  • 0.5 oz. Cynar
  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. honey syrup
  • orange peel

For all three, combine ingredients in a mug, add 6 oz. of very hot water, and stir. Spritz the toddy with a squeeze of the peel over the drink. Also, it’s important to note that the honey syrup is a 1:1 ratio of honey to hot water and juice is freshly squeezed and strained to remove excess pulp and seeds.

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Hot Dr. Pepper

Hot Dr. Pepper

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Hot soda? We know, but take a second to hear us out. Back in the wild 1960s, people used to drink Dr. Pepper, warmed but not boiled, for the holidays. Something about the cherry-filled sweetness this soda is known for results in an underrated warm beverage.

If you’re coming in with an open mind, we recommend warming up the Dr.Pepper and adding very thin slices of lemon. For the kids, this drink is like a hot toddy without the alcohol. For the adults, just add a little bourbon and you’ve got the spike you’re missing. Just be sure to use the Dr. Pepper that contains cane sugar and not the corn syrup.

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Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

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A rich cup of hot chocolate is the ultimate warm wintry drink. This particular cup is so decadent that we can only recommend to absolute chocolate fiends. Basically, if you’re comfortable drinking what is essentially an entire chocolate bar melted into a cup, then this is the recipe for you:

Hot chocolate

Serves 6

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 oz. high quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 8 oz. high quality semisweet dark chocolate, chopped
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, bring the half and half and whole milk up to a near boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Add chocolate a bit at a time while continuously whisking, letting it melt completely before each addition. Once all the chocolate has been added and warmed through, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

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Chicken broth cocktail

Chicken broth cocktail

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This hot drink is both a well-kept secret and a go-to for those who have to withstand the cold on a regular basis. Thanks to the wisdom of an usher who worked many games on frigid days over at Soldier Field, we have this hearty, unexpected cocktail. Similar to a bull shot (beef broth with vodka, lime juice, and a splash of Worcestershire), the chicken broth cocktail, which can include either lemon or lime, pairs nicely with vodka.

If you’re not a vodka person, Bourbon, rye, or brandy can also be used. In addition to liquor, herbs like rosemary and thyme, spices like cayenne, chipotle, or aleppo, and hot sauce also make good additions. Overall, this cocktail leaves a lot of room for experimentation, so here is the foundation you can work from:

  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, heated
  • 1/4 cup vodka or other liquor
  • 1/2 tsp. ground spice or herbs
  • Dash of sauce, if desired
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime
  • Rosemary for garnish

If using spices or herbs, combine them with the hot chicken broth and steep for at least 5 minutes, longer if a stronger flavor is desired. (If steeped overnight, stir and heat the broth when ready to serve.)

Place the vodka, sauce, and citrus juice in the bottom of a mug and stir. Slowly add the hot broth, stirring to combine the flavors. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Serve and enjoy.

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