| by Drew Middleton
'Tis the season for partying, presents and merry drinking. December brings out the fun in us, and what better way to channel the Christmastime spirit than with hot or frosty refreshments and blizzard-cold cocktails.
Whether your brew of preference is fruity, alcoholic or piping-hot it's time to get mixing and serving on your yearly family get-togethers. Most make tasty contents for your on-the-go thermos flasks too. Who needs a Starbucks anyways?
The winter season is one of history, tradition and spectacle. We're all familar with the food on offer: mince pies, pigs in blankets, turkey, cranberries, stuffing, brussel sprouts, gingerbread, brandy cream... Let's stop before our tummy rumbles roar louder. But how about everyone's favourite tipples?
Winter (Flask Ready) Warmers: mulled wine or cider, hot chocolate, hot toddy, cranberry punch, hot buttered rum, spiced fruit tea
Chilled Choices: egg nog, milk and milkshakes, Coca-Cola, apple juice
Alcoholic Tasters: apple cider, prosecco, champagne, Baileys, Amarreto
It's amazing. Made from miniscule shavings of solid chocolate, this drink transforms your favourite dark-coloured sweet treat - or powdered cocoa - into liquid mugs of joy.
The origins of hot chocolate are fascinating; it's an ancient Mesoamerican beverage produced from the seeds or pods of the Theobroma cacao tree. Referred to as "The Drinks of the Gods" in Aztec times, Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten was the first to process the solids into its well-know natural drinkable form around 1828.
Sweetened with dates in place of sugar and topped with coconut cream. Lovely.
World-famous hazelnut Nutella spread mixed with liquid chocolate and loaded with chocolate chips and whipped cream. How can you say no?
Photography Credit: Steve Painter (Ryland Peters & Small)
Hannah Miles' luxurious thick hot chocolate can be made with white/milk/dark varieties. The secret ingrediant is a pinch or two of sea salt. For richer flavours, use caramel flavoured chocolate.
Fact: 587 million cups of coffee are consumed per day in the USA, with 55 million cups drunk in the UK alone. That's tons upon tons of beans, roasts and grounds. It's by the far one of the most in demand hot brews on the planet, as is tea, and is regularly carried on the go in insulating flask and travel mugs.
When Christmas comes to town, we love to the jazz it up outside of boring black and milky makeups. Specialty instant infusions (such as We Are Little's flavourful range) and wonderful liquid takes on Christmastime treats are becoming more inventive year on year.
This gingerbread latte is super easy to make and a delectable homemade alternative to coffee shop versions. Syrupy sweet with a biscuity punch. Full recipe in video bio.
Image Credit: Faith Durand
Spicy, frothy and unforgettable. Pumpkin is a special spice in the fall season used at Halloween and Christmas. Simply soothing.
With Roman European backgrounds dating back to the 2nd century, the mulling (def: warming an alcoholic drink, especially wine/beer/cider, then adding sugar and spices to it) of wine has close-knit associations with Christmas. Perhaps the most common winter warmer out there due to its addictive aromas and boozy but fruity taste.
Chef Ramsay's take on the traditional mulled wine includes dry roast spiced nuts, lemongrass and sweet stem ginger for a brew that emits energetic zest and spice. F*cking marvelous, yeah.
Red wine infused with clementines, oranges, apples, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise. Honey is the sweet nectar preferred to sugar - and a hint of apple juice gives it a soft, fruity twist. For Christmas mulled wine amateurs and social savvy generation.
An almost-exclusively American Christmas drink. The warm buttery tropical-inspired rum cocktail is a popular winter warmer stateside - especially in the Southern regions - and owns a strong mixology heritage.
It's a comforting tipple created by colonists; again with European origins, when the British Royal Navy discovered the wonders Jamaican rum around 1655. The Brits also coined their own version, 'Hot Toddy', a title derived from the Hindi word tārī which was a drink made from the fermented sap of the various varieties of toddy palm found on their travels. Liquor, spices and sugar. Lip-lickingly good.
Rum blended with scoops of vanilla ice cream, butter and heritage festive spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg can be used to create a beautiful batter that lasts for three months. So you can keep for future cosy nights in and parties.
Today's To-Go: try to make (at least) two of these drinks before the new year. You'll surprise yourself, and everyone who tastes them, with how simple twists make your festive hot drinks ten times more delicious.