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9 Warm Cocktails to Sip This Winter

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As the mercury drops (and drops), you need all the warm comfort you can find. So why not use some of that ample indoor time to craft a drink that’s warm, boozy, and all sorts of flavorful? Here are a few worth imbibing.

1. HOT BUTTERED RUM

This classic warmer features all the pleasant winter spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and dark brown sugar. What seals the deal, though, is the generous helping of dark rum and the half stick of butter. This recipe, courtesy of Epicurious, should get the blood flowing.

2. WARM BOURBON CIDER

Apple cider, that wondrous cold-weather beverage, has a boozy best friend in bourbon. Delish’s take on the drink adds nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground ginger for good measure, and makes enough to serve any guests who happen to drop by.

3. HOT SPICED WINE

Like a wintertime sangria, this drink—also known as mulled wine—combines the signature ingredient with spices, citrus, and other lively ingredients. If you’re handy in the kitchen, try this heady take from Food & Wine that adds in cherry brandy, cardamom, and black pepper. Or, try making a slow cooker version.

4. HOT MILK PUNCH

Before you write off the combination of milk and alcohol, consider that this drink has been warming souls since the 17th century. Traditionally served cold, it can also be made warm and frothy, as The New York Times demonstrates. If you’re interested in the classic version, try Mary Rockett’s Milk Punch recipe, which dates from 1711.

5. STOUT HOT CHOCOLATE

There are many ways to booze up hot chocolate, but we’re featuring this one because it also calls for the perfect cold-weather beer. The Floating Kitchen has this unbeatable recipe, which calls for whole milk, unsweetened cocoa, dark chocolate, and 12 ounces of Rogue Chocolate Stout. A scoop of ice cream further sweetens the deal.

6. REMONTEL TODDY

The hot toddy has been a preferred nightcap and cold remedy for generations of drinkers. For a fresh take, try this Mexican-inspired riff from Serious Eats that includes agave nectar, ginger beer, mezcal, and mole bitters. It has a sweet, smoky flavor that’s sure to please.

7. HOT COCOA AND WHISKEY

The name tells you everything you need to know. Follow The Kitchn’s instructions and use Irish whiskey along with homemade whipped cream.

8. LAST STOP DARJEELING

Tea cocktails are—there’s really no other way to say it—hot right now. Across the country, mixologists are livening up Earl Gray and company with sweeteners, spices, and proper doses of rum, gin, and other spirits. Try this recipe from Town and Country, which combines Darjeeling tea with Orleans Cider Bitters, dry sherry, and agave nectar.

9. SPANISH COFFEE

Fresh-brewed coffee, rum, and Kahlua come together to make this eye-opening cocktail. The best part? You get to light it (carefully) on fire. Imbibe offers this recipe courtesy of Huber’s in Portland, Oregon.

All images via iStock.

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Courtesy New District
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Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
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Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

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