Drink and be merry

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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If you were smart enough to plan a few days off this coming week, then more power to you. For those of us back in the office bright and early Monday morning, it's the last weekend to make merry, at least for this holiday season. Sounds like a good excuse to try one of these unusual hot and cheery winter drinks.

On the other hand, if you've had enough merry-making to last you a while, put up your feet, dig a favourite movie out of the stack under the TV, get that ratty old throw out of the closet, and you still have a great excuse to indulge. Talk about your win-win.

Everyday Kitchen - If you were smart enough to plan a few days off this coming week, then more power to you. For those of us back in the office bright and early Monday morning, it's the last weekend to make merry, at least for this holiday season. Sounds like a good excuse to try one of these unusual hot and cheery winter drinks.

On the other hand, if you've had enough merry-making to last you a while, put up your feet, dig a favourite movie out of the stack under the TV, get that ratty old throw out of the closet, and you still have a great excuse to indulge. Talk about your win-win.

Dad's hot toddy

I've seen so many versions of a hot toddy I'm not sure what it means anymore, but I do recall how much my father enjoyed this drink on a cold winter's night - he said it was restorative. He used white sugar, but in the past few years I've come to appreciate the deeper flavour of brown - I think if he were here he would approve. I don't know if I ever saw a cinnamon stick as a kid so that's my addition, as well, but feel free to ignore it if you don't happen to have any in your kitchen.

1-1/2 oz. dark rum

1 tsp. brown sugar

boiling water

1 thin slice lemon

cinnamon stick

Stir rum and brown sugar together in a nice glass mug. Fill with boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Float lemon on top and add cinnamon stick.

Gingerbread latte

I'm a black-coffee-straight-up kind of person, but the other day I took my nephew for one of those hundred-dollar cappuccinos at the local coffee shop and decided to try a flavoured drink, just for a change. It was yummy and definitely not something I want to get used to, but I knew there had to be a way to capture those winter flavours in my kitchen, and here it is. This syrup will keep for a long time in the fridge; add a couple of spoonfuls to boiling water any time you are in the mood for a special coffee, or use it to make a round for the whole crowd tonight.

If you don't have whole allspice, use ground - although just for the record, the flavour is far superior if you've a mind to grind your own. For a grown-up version, stir in an ounce of rum; for a lighter version, leave out the coffee cream or, to be able to call it a latte still, use skim milk.

You can skip the whipped cream, as well, of course.

1 cup each water and sugar

1 tbsp. corn syrup or honey

1 thumb-sized chunk fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced

1 cinnamon stick

12 whole cloves

8 each whole allspice berries and black peppercorns

pinch freshly ground nutmeg

6 cups hot coffee

1/4 cup coffee cream (or to taste)

sweetened whipped cream

Combine water, sugar, corn syrup, gingerroot, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, peppercorns and nutmeg in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Cool and strain through cheesecloth, coffee filter or fine sieve. Add syrup to hot coffee. Heat the coffee cream for a few seconds in the microwave to take the chill off and stir into coffee. Pour into 6 mugs and top with whipped cream.

Steaming citrus tea

If you're a tea lover and would like to spruce up your Saturday afternoon choice, then try this. Serve 4 to 6 with this quantity, but scale the recipe up or down as you like. Use all lime or all lemon if you'd rather, but I like the combination. The sugar is on the light side so the tea is quite tart - add as much as you like. Artificial sweetener works in this drink, as well.

1 cup orange juice

4 cups boiling water

1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

4 tea bags

1 tbsp. each lemon and lime juice

Heat orange juice in microwave until almost boiling. Stir in boiling water, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Drop in the tea bags and steep over low heat for 10 minutes. Strain and add lemon and lime juice just before serving in pretty cups and saucers.

Any port in a storm

Port - served cold or warm - is good just as it is, but a couple of little extras will make tonight's goodnight sip extra special. This quantity serves 4 to 6.

1/2 lemon, scrubbed clean

2 cups port

1-1/2 cups boiling water

1/4 cup sugar

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla

Cut a few strips of rind from the lemon and put in a small pot - avoid including any of the white pulp.

Add the lemon juice, port, boiling water, sugar and nutmeg and heat together a few minutes - do not boil.

Stir in vanilla just before serving.

G'night Russian

Get ready for a rich, creamy satisfying cocktail. This goes down easy but packs a punch, so no driving - it is definitely a pyjamas drink.

2 cups strong hot coffee

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup coffee liqueur (Kahlua is a good choice)

1/4 cup vodka

1/2 tsp. vanilla

sweetened whipped cream

Combine coffee, cream, liqueur, and vodka and microwave or heat in a small pot until steaming hot. Add vanilla, pour into two large mugs and top with whipped cream.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 5970, St. John's, NL, A1C 5X7.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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