Winter drinks, with and without alcohol
As winter makes itself felt during the festive season, and Europe is returning to lockdown, you might feel the need for some wintery concoctions, alcoholic or not. Here's a few ideas and favourites of mine that are relatively easy to make with widely available ingredients. Drink responsibly, obviously. Except for the mocktails further below. You can go crazy on those.
Mulled red wine
Ingredients: Cheap red wine, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, fresh oranges, Chinese five spice, cardamom.
The real winter festive classic. You might have tried it at a supermarket, but why not make it at home? All you need is some red wine, preferably a cheap one as you won't taste much of a difference. Think Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, or Italian reds - you need a full-bodied and fruity wine.
Pour the wine into a pot, put it on the stove, and add the spices you prefer, such as those listed above. My personal favourite mix includes cloves, anise, cinnamon sticks, and fresh oranges. If you're feeling more adventurous, get a traditional Chinese five spice mix, which includes many of the traditional red wine ingredients, but adds a dash of peppercorn.
If the wine is steaming, it's hot enough. Don't bring to boil, as that will ruin the taste. Let it steam for 15-20 minutes, and give it a try. If you want to make it sweeter, add sugar, honey or a syrup of your preference.
Spiced Cider Sangria
Ingredients: White wine, cider, apples, orange peels, ginger beer or ale, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks
You will need some dry white wine for this autumnal and wintery mixture, such as a good Pinot Gris from the Moselle, some apple cider of your choice depending (Ramborn from Luxembourg offers a wide range of ciders if you want to stay local), some apples, orange peels, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Add some rum if you want to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the concoction.
Add all ingredients, except some of the apple slices and ginger beer, to a large pitcher, mix them, and let it refrigerate for at least three hours. My preferred proportion is one bottle of wine of 75o ml to roughly 250 ml of cider.
Once you're done, pour it into glasses, add fresh apple slices, and top it off with ale or ginger beer. I prefer the latter, as it is spicier and fuller.
Ingredients: Aperol, Prosecco, cardamom pods, whole cloves, oranges, cinnamon sticks, sugar, rosemary
You think of Aperol as something of a warm summer day on a terrace in Padua. But it is also a perfectly good ingredient for wintery cocktails, as some of the stalls at the Luxembourg Christmas market seemed to have learnt.
Mix your preferred Aperol Spritz in a big pot, and some wintery spices like star anise, cardamom pods, whole cloves, orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Feel free to add a bit of sugar if you'd like it sweeter.
As a garnish, an orange peel and rosemary twig do wonders.
Inregdients: Aperol, Prosecco, sparkling water, cranberry juice, rosemary, pomegranate and grapefuit.
This one is slightly easier to make as it requires no heating. You need the usual ingredients for an Aperol, namely the substance itself, Prosecco (or other sparkling wines, but let's stay with Italy), sparkling water. And cranberry juice, for that wintery feeling. Rosemary twigs, pomegranate arils, and grapefruits are recommended garnishes.
Depending on the amount of guests or how thirsty you are, you can make this in a large pot, but you can also just pour it in a glass with ice cubes. I'd recommend the four liquids in relatively equal amounts and then add the garnishes. Enjoy.
Mulled Campari Spritz
Ingredients: Same as the Mulled Aperol, with Campari instead of Aperol (surprise, surprise).
Just like the mulled Aperol, with Campari instead of Aperol, and the same spice mixes, depending on your preferences, as I am painfully aware that some people sadly don't like star anise or even cardamom. I'd suggest slightly less Campari than Aperol as the taste can be stronger. Unless you really like the taste of Campari. Feel free to top off with a hint of orange or grapefruit juice.
Ingredients: Aperol Spritz, Irish Whisky or Bourbon, honey, orange,
You can probably tell by now that I'm a huge fan of the Italian aperitivo. Here's a final one (I promise): a toddy with a twist. I'd go for Irish whiskey or Bourbon as Scotch is a bit too heavy and best savoured on its own.
Take a large pot, add equal amounts of Aperol and Whisky (say 150 ml each), a few teaspoons of honey or a sweet syrup, then add very hot but not quite boiling water to it - roughly 300ml.
As for garnishes, you can again go for cinnamon sticks and orange slices, but feel free to use rosemary twigs, pomegranate arils or anything else that inspires you. Serve hot, or let it cool off and refrigerate and serve it cold.
Winter Gin & Tonic
Ingredients: Gin, tonic, pear juice, cinnamon sticks (a recurring theme, I confess), thyme or rosemary twigs.
This one is also relatively easy to make, almost as easy as a regular G&T. I prefer a Gin that is dry with a taste that isn't too alcohol-y. My favourite is Tanqueray Rangpur. In a glass with ice cubes, add two shots of gin, a small bottle of regular tonic, top it off with pear juice and give it a little stir. Add cinnamon sticks and twigs of either thyme or rosemary, or both if you want to be reminded of the taste of a traditional Luxembourgish lamb roast.
Baileys Winter Cocktail
Ingredients: Baileys, milk, vodka, coffee (espresso), cinnamon
You can make this simple creamy and coffee-y cocktail in just a glass. Fill a glass with ice cubes. Then add all the liquid ingredients one after the other and stir the whole thing. Say your glass is 200 ml. You should have a 75 ml of Baileys, 75 ml milk, 25 ml vodka and 25 ml coffee, preferably espresso. At the end sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the drink and it's ready to serve.
Mulled pomegranate juice
Ingredients: Pomegranate juice, cinnamon, coriander seeds, orange, rosemary, turmeric.
Pour the pomegranate juice into a pot, add rosemary, cinnamon (of leave it out if you've had enough of it by now), coriander seeds, a tiny bit of turmeric (or more if you are hooked on it) and orange peels or slices. Bring to simmer and let it mull for 10 to 15 minutes, then pour through a sieve to remove the coriander seeds and rosemary. Granish with an orange slice and a rosemary twig.
Mulled cranberry juice
Ingredients: Cranberry juice, oranges, lemon, cane sugar, star anis, ginger slices thinly cut
Add all the ingredients into a pot, heat, and let it simmer for 10 and 15 minutes. Strain, then add a garnish such as an orange slice or grapefruit.
Ingredients: Black tea leaves, milk, ginger, whole cloves, peppercorns, star anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon powder, cane sugar
Yes, I will die on this hill. This is a winter cocktail, even if I drink it as regular tea throughout the year. A Masala (mixed spice) Chai is a perfectly nice drink in winter as well. It is sometimes referred to as Chai latte, but the further epithet is not required as milk is an essential ingredient of a Chai anyway.
Get some nice loose black tea, lightly crush the spices and mix them, add them to a saucepan or pot with water. Bring the whole thing to a boil, turn off the heat and let it stand just there for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how strong you want it to be. Add milk according to your taste. You can of course also use almond milk or other alternatives. Heat the concoction again without letting it boil for too long. A regular sugar, or even better cane sugar. Serve hot.
Coconut Orange cocktail
Ingredients: Coconut milk, coconut water, sugar syrup, orange juice
Something refreshing and classic that can be drunk throughout the year. In a jug, mix around 200 ml coconut milk, 200 ml of orange juice, 100 ml coconut water, and 40 ml of sugar syrup. Stirring should do, but if you have proper cocktail shaker, that might be even better.
Add orange slice as a garnish. If you want, you can also add pineapple juice and you'll have a somewhat classic mocktail.