During the chilliest months of New England weather, cozy bars are a snowbound escape for those looking to warm up – inside and out. After-dinner staples like Irish or Mexican coffee are often placed below the dessert menu, signaling the end of the night. Why not elevate and innovate with toasty tipples front and center on your cocktail menu? Take a cue from these local bars and restaurants.
Mulled wine, also known as glögg in Nordic countries or glühwein across Europe, is a heated combination of red wine, spices, orange zest, sugar, and a spirit like vodka or brandy. For summertime sangria lovers, this is a nice transition to the colder months. The best red wines to use tend to be semi-dry, full-bodied and unoaked – Zinfandel, Merlot or Cabernet. Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square makes a version using red wine, brandy, cinnamon sticks, allspice, cardamom, cloves, star anise, vanilla bean, orange, and nutmeg, while Salem’s 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar combines Merlot and cider for a flavorful combination.
At Cambridge newcomer Catalyst, bar manager Jason Kilgore makes a Swedish-inspired glögg using akvavit (or aquavit), the grain or potato based Scandinavian spirit that gets its distinct flavor from spices and herbs, most notably caraway. Instead of wine, he uses port and sherry along with an array of spices, dates, prunes, and slivered almonds. It’s best to use an old-fashioned crock pot to keep warm and allow the flavors to mingle. The fragrant smell is enough to draw anyone through the door!
Hot toddies are another wintertime classic, dating back to the 17th century and commonly used as a remedy for illness. Even today, many still swear by a toddy to tame aches and chills. Traditionally made with hot water (or sometimes tea), honey or sugar, fresh lemon juice, and whiskey or brandy, toddies are on the menu at several cocktail-forward bars. Todd Maul at Clio at the Eliot Hotel in Boston makes a “toddy” using Green Chartreuse, Regan’s Orange Bitters, Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927 dessert wine, and cloves served in a cinnamon smoked glass, while Eastern Standard switches things up with a London Toddy using gin for a more herbal bouquet. Inspired by the toddy, Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square has a spiced concoction called Kingston Nights using Smith and Cross rum, Benedictine, apple cinnamon simple syrup, and Bitterman’s chocolate mole bitters.
And it wouldn’t be New England without hot cider spiked with rum, a perennial favorite dating back to the Colonists. Plenty of local farms produce ciders, which are simple to personalize with spices and warm up with a jigger of whiskey, apple brandy or rum. The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge makes a nice version suited for après ski.
Take some inspiration from these festive hot recipes
and winterize your cocktail menu.
62’S MULLED WINE
62 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Salem
1.5 liter bottle of Merlot
½ cup of cranberry juice
½ cup of cider
2 whole cloves
3 whole cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
3 whole all spice
Let all ingredients steep in a pot for approximately 3O minutes. Don’t bring to a boil (it becomes too bitter). Add lemon and/or orange zest to taste and serve with a cinnamon stick.
1 75Oml bottle of Port
4 ounces of Dry Sherry
4 ounces of Sweet Vermouth
1 cup of orange juice
Peel of 1 orange
2 cinnamon sticks
8 pieces of allspice
8 cardamon pods
¼ inch of ginger, peeled
¼ cup ofslivered almonds
Combine all ingredients, let gently simmer on the stove for an hour and then strain. To serve, add 1 ounce of Aquavit to six ounces hot mulled wine.
Russell House Tavern, Cambridge
2 ounces of Smith and Cross Rum
½ ounce of Benedictine
½ ounce of apple cinnamon simple syrup
2 dashes of Bittermans Chocolate Mole bitters
Orange peel garnish
Pour ingredients into glass. Fill with hot water. Garnish with
HOT SPICED CIDER
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge
1¼ ounces of Spiced Rum
1 orange peel
1 cinnamon stick, 1½ inches long
2 whole cloves
6 ounces of apple cider, heated
Pour all of the ingredients, except the nutmeg, into a heated mug. Let steep for 3 minutes and then stir. Sprinkle with the nutmeg.