Mulled Drinks for the Holidays
Mulled drinks have long been part of our winter traditions. Mead — a fermented drink made of honey, water, and yeast — was flavored with spices and sometimes fruits, and heated by plunging a hot poker into the liquid. Wassail, a hot, spiced punch often associated with winter celebrations in northern Europe, derives from medieval times, when it was more like a mulled beer seasoned with spices and honey.
Mulled wine can be left warming on the stove all evening, but don't let it boil or the alcohol will evaporate. If you want to prepare it ahead of time, heat the wine, spices, lemon rind, sugar and the orange studded with cloves to a simmering point. Then turn off the heat, and let it marinate for a few hours before adding the orange juice, brandy and orange slices.
Pour 2 bottles of red wine into a large pan. Add 1 orange studded with 12 cloves, the pared zest of 1 lemon, a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into slices, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 tablespoons of brandy, 1/2 cup of demerara sugar, the juice of 1 orange and 1 thinly sliced orange. Bring almost to a boil on medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, then serve in glasses.
Winter Whiskey Sour
Stud 4 lemon slices with 3 cloves each. Place in a pan with 1 strip of lemon rind, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Divide a 1/2 cup of whiskey and the 4 lemon slices between the glasses, discard the lemon rind, add the infused water and serve.