Hot Drinks for Cold Nights

Area bars dish out recipes for their favorite steamy seasonal tipples

Dec 7, 2016 at 11:44 am

click to enlarge Northside Yacht Club’s Hot Buttered Rum - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Northside Yacht Club’s Hot Buttered Rum
In the era before water came from a tap in the kitchen and was relatively safe to drink, humans imbibed various fermented and alcoholic libations to avoid unpleasant gastrointestinal infections (like cholera) and treat other diseases; for instance, drinking a hot toddy as a remedy for the common cold. Alcoholic beverages were both medicinal and practical, especially when the weather turned cold and you needed a nip of a winter warmer to make it through the season.

There are several classic heated Yuletide drinks historically associated with glad tidings and good health, like mulled wine and wassail, a hot spiced-cider with a name derived from the Old English for “be healthy.” Even eggnog, a favorite of President George Washington, is connected to wishing wealth and prosperity: The fatty, creamy, spiced and spiked cocktail was a favorite of the European elite, basically the only ones who could afford the hefty price tag of milk, eggs and imported alcohol. 

“I think people like warm cocktails for the same reason they like warm beverages in general,” says Stuart MacKenzie, co-owner and bartender at the Northside Yacht Club. “There’s nothing better when it’s cold out than putting your hands around a warm mug, resting your face over its steaming contents, taking a sip and letting the hot liquid warm your mouth and belly.”

MacKenzie, along with a plethora of other area bartenders and alcohol institutions, will be serving up seasonal cocktails this holiday to warm you from the inside out.

Japp’s Since 1879’s Smoking Bishop

“The Smoking Bishop is a Victorian Era mulled wine punch,” says Lisa Colina of Wellmann’s Brands. “It is called a Smoking Bishop because traditionally it was served in a cup that resembled the hat that bishops wear, and it’s a warm drink that smokes when heating it on the stove. There are many varieties of ‘smoking’ drinks in this era, but this one is one of Molly (Wellmann)’s favorites to serve during the cold months.” Note: This drink takes about 26 hours to make.


• 5 oranges

• 2 lemons

• 30 whole cloves

• ¼ tsp. cinnamon

• ¼ tsp. allspice

• ¼ tsp. mace

• 1 piece fresh ginger root (thumb-sized), peeled and cut into chunks

• 1 bottle red wine of your choice

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 bottle ruby port

Instructions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. To start, you will need 5 oranges and 1 of the lemons; reserve the second lemon. Make 5 small incisions with a sharp knife into each piece of fruit. Stick whole cloves into each incision. Place oranges and lemon on a baking sheet.

Place the fruit in the oven and let it roast for about 75 minutes, until the peels begin to lose their bright color. Remove fruit from the oven and replace any cloves that have fallen from their incisions, and then place the fruit into the bottom of a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with the cinnamon, allspice, mace and ginger chunks. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat.

In a larger pan, pour the bottle of red wine (not the port) and heat over medium high until boiling. Reduce heat to a slow simmer, then pour in the sugar and whisk until it dissolves. Let the wine simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the spiced liquid mixture. Remove from heat.

Pour the heated wine over the roasted oranges and lemon. Stir the fruit and wine gently to combine. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm corner for 24 hours. 

After 24 hours, slice the oranges and lemon in half. Juice them into the spiced wine. Pour the wine mixture through a wire mesh strainer into a pot to remove large spices and solids. Press down gently on the solids with a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible.

Add the bottle of port to the pot. Stir and heat over medium until hot, but do not boil. Vapors will begin to rise from the warming wine — this is the “smoking” part of the “smoking bishop.” Taste the mixture; add more sugar to taste.

Cut the remaining lemon into rounds or wedges and float them in the warmed wine. Pour the wine into heat-safe mugs or glasses, or serve in a punch bowl.

Queen City Radio’s Horsemouth Cider

“We do an interpretation of a Hot Jamaican Cider, which we call ‘Horsemouth Cider,’ ” says Madeline Schmidt of Queen City Radio. “The name is from the famous Jamaican drummer, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, who has worked with numerous well-known Reggae artists.”


• Washington apple cider

• A dash of cinnamon

• A dash of nutmeg

• A dash of chili pepper

• A dash of allspice

• A dash of black pepper

• A dash of red pepper

• Brown sugar (to taste)

• Bourbon or rum

Instructions: “All ingredients are whirled (and heated) together in a Ratatouille-esque fashion,” Schmidt says, “served with the customer’s choice of rum or bourbon, garnished with an orange.” 

Northside Yacht Club’s Hot Buttered Rum

“Warm drinks are typically a little sweeter in general — think a hot chocolate or the classic triple-venti, half-sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato — but besides being a little sweet, we always try to keep every drink balanced,” MacKenzie says. “Our two most popular warm cocktails are a hot cider and bourbon and a ‘Yacht Toddy.’ But Jon Weiner, my business partner, blew me away with his Hot Buttered Rum.”


• 1 stick unsalted butter  

• 1½ cups of water

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

• 2 cloves (strain after use)

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• ¾ cup brown sugar

• Dark rum

Instructions: Bring the ingredients from butter to brown sugar to a boil while stirring, strain and then let cool. To make the drink, pour 1.5 ounces of dark rum into a standard household mug, then pour 3 ounces of the hot buttered rum mix on top. Top with steaming (not boiling) water. “If you have a bougie kettle like I do, put it on the ‘green tea’ setting,” MacKenzie says. You can store your hot buttered rum mix in the fridge and use it whenever you feel like a boozy, warm treat. 

*If you’re making a large batch: “If you’re having a party and you batch a warm cocktail or punch, set your Crockpot to ‘keep warm’ (165 degrees); even the ‘low’ setting will start evaporating your booze,” MacKenzie says. “At the bar, we hold the non-alcoholic ingredients just hot enough to steam and then add the booze as we build the cocktail, so none of the precious giggle juice evaporates.”