Tips and Tricks for Making Hot Cocktails

Helpful hints for crafting perfect winter weather cocktails.

If you're anywhere in the Northeast right now, you know — it's a big bowl of soup and hot cup of something to drink kind of day. But if you've had to deal with any of the stress and reprecussions that several feet of out-of-your-control snow brings, chances are you're looking for something with a little more kick than your regular hot beverage has to offer.

To that end, we've collected some helpful hints for you to keep in mind when crafting that perfect winter weather cocktail.



Simmer for flavor

Simmering liquors like brandy, rum, and whiskey, intensifies their flavors and aromas — just be careful not to let them reach a boil.


Make like a cappuccino and steam!

To create his Applejack Chai Tea cocktail, Hotel Griffou co-owner and mixologist, Johnny Swet, approaches the drink as if it were a cappuccino, choosing to steam it. Using this technique gets the cocktail to the right temperature without having to water it down.

The method can also be used to heat the glass before adding the drink, as is done for Five Leaves' Farmer's Daughter cocktail.


Black tea is best

A helpful tip for hot toddy drinkers: If you're going to be spiking your tea with a spirit, best opt for a powerful, black variety like Ceylon or Darjeeling. Lighter teas can be too easily overwhelmed by the liquor and other ingredients.


Make it a freshly brewed pot

For those fans of the ever-popular Irish Coffee, remember that freshly-brewed coffee will provide a better flavor. Also keep in mind that strong, bold roasts will give the drink more depth and stand up better to the alcohol.


Top spirited coffee companions

Looking for the best spirits to add to make your coffee adults-only? Think nutty flavors (like Frangelico or Amaretto), creamy textures (like Bailey's Irish Cream), or something to provide a touch of sweetness (like Butterscotch Schnapps). Of course, you can't go wrong a simple whiskey.


Spices for mulled wine: whole or ground?

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, vanilla bean — you've gathered all the spices you need to fix yourself a hot cup of mulled wine, but one question remains. To grind the spices, or not? Don't worry, there's no wrong answer here. If you're using ground spices, heat the wine then add them so that they dissolve. If you prefer whole spices, a better technique is to boil them for a few minutes in a little bit of water with sugar, then add the wine.


The right wine for mulling

Choosing the right wine to drink with dinner can be difficult in and of itself, so we can understand the stress in picking the best one to use in a warm cocktail like mulled wine. Here's the short and simple answer: Pick a bold, full-bodied red. And if you're going to opt for a fortified wine, like port, just remember to cut down the amount of sugar you use in the recipe.


Picking appropriate glassware


If you happen to have a Irish Coffee glass in your collection — great, use that. If not, any heat-tempered glass or mug with a handle will do. And don't think you can't use a wine glass — we're not saying to use your best crystal, of course, but the stem serves a similar function to the handle of a mug.