As the weather gets colder, iced tea and lemonade give way to apple cider and hot chocolate, the perfect drinks to warm away a chilly day.
What better to pair with your favorite sweater or a blazing fire than a warm beverage, seasoned with spices from your cabinet?
While the classics are perfect – cinnamon-infused apple cider or nutmeg-topped eggnog – there are many innovative drinks that you might want to add to your repertoire.
Apple Pie Punch
Bringing the flavors of mom’s apple pie to this punch will make it a favorite for family reunions, baby showers or other special occasions. (If you’re serving it at an adult party, feel free to spike it with brandy or dark rum.)
- 1 gallon apple juice
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 3 cups white sugar
- 8 cinnamon sticks
- 8 whole cloves
Wrap cloves in cheesecloth and tie the bundle with kitchen twine.
In a large pot, mix apple juice, cider, sugar, cinnamon sticks and clove bundle. Bring mixture to a boil, then remove from heat.
Can be served warm or chilled.
Hot Buttered Lemonade
A play on hot buttered rum, this drink is perfect for cool autumn nights, and it takes lemonade from summer directly into fall with ease.
- 3 cups water
- ¾ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 4 cinnamon sticks
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, simmer water, lemon juice, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon sticks until sugar is dissolved and cinnamon sticks have infused the liquid.
Remove from heat and stir in butter.
Hot Buttered Rum
If the inspirational recipe above has you craving a classic hot buttered rum – a drink that dates back to colonial times – this spiced version is sure to satisfy.
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup spiced rum
- 2 cups boiling water
- Cinnamon sticks for garnish
In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt until smooth and well-blended.
Add the rum and boiling water, stirring until the butter mixture dissolves.
Ladle into mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks.
While it’s difficult to believe that wine by its very nature can be improved upon, mulled wine is in a class by itself. Adding spices enhances the aroma of the wine, and heating it gives wine a warmth that travels from lips to toes. Perfect following a winter walk through a snowy neighborhood, mulled wine is simple to make, and can upgrade a low-end bottle, so you can create something special to serve guests at a party without breaking the bank.
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 pod star anise
- Zest of one orange
- 1 bottle red wine
Combine all ingredients except wine in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for five minutes.
Reduce heat and add wine, heating it until it is warm, but before boiling, so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate.
Garnish with additional cinnamon sticks.
Spiced Hot Chocolate
While hot chocolate itself is decadent and perfect for turning a cold night cozy, adding spice takes the chocolate flavor to the next level.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 ½ cups powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended.
Use ½ cup of mixture per cup of hot water or warm milk to serve.
When cranberry season arrives in Wisconsin (one of the top cranberry growers in the nation), field after flooded field is covered with bright red berries. The tart harvest is perfectly suited to seasonal spices.
- 3 ½ quarts water
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 oranges, juiced
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole cloves
- 4 allspice berries
- Zest of lemon and orange
In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine water and cranberries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes until berries begin to snap and pop. Add sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and zest. Cover, and steep for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve strained.
Although the holidays are still a few months away, there’s no reason not to add a nice eggnog recipe to your arsenal so you won’t have to dig one up during the frenzied weeks of gift-wrapping and cooking.
- 4 cups milk
- 5 whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups light rum
- 4 cups light cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- +4 cups light cream
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
In a saucepan, combine milk, cloves, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.
In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar, whisking them until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into the eggs, then return to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so eggs don’t scramble, until mixture thickens. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Strain out the solids and allow the mixture to cool for at least an hour.
When cooled, add rum and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
Refrigerate overnight, and serve dusted with freshly-ground nutmeg.