I love a warm cocktail in the wintertime. But when you keep a pot of spiced wine going on the stovetop, it’s hard to keep the heat low enough so that the drink doesn’t taste overly cooked and reduced. Also, alcohol burns off at about 170°F, so if there’s booze in that simmering pot, it has lost its potency.
The solution: Serve a cocktail in a slow cooker set on warm. It’s the perfect temperature for sipping and for maintaining the alcohol’s pop. In the unlikely event of leftovers, all these cocktails keep well in the fridge for at least a week and can also be served chilled.
1. Swedish Spiced White Wine with Almonds
(Far left, above)
This aromatic cocktail with cardamom, ginger, and orange and makes a refreshing change from more common (and, let’s be honest, kind of dull) mulled red wine. The slivered almonds give a gentle flavor and crunch.
1 Tbs. green cardamom pods
4 cinnamon sticks
One 2-inch ginger knob, peeled and sliced into thin planks
12 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Two 3-inch strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
1½ cups sugar
Two 750-ml bottles dry white wine
1 cup dry rosé
1 cup vodka
½ cup slivered blanched almonds
MAKES ABOUT 12 SERVINGS
2. Mexican-Style Hot Chocolate
(second from left, above)
Traditional Mexican hot chocolate is more complex and aromatic than its American counterpart. This big-batch, slow-cooker version is flavored with vanilla, almond, warm spices like cinnamon, and a little bit of cayenne. You can make the hot chocolate ahead through step 1 and then refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Pour it into the slow cooker and reheat on WARM until it’s warmed through, about 1 hour. Whisk to smooth it out and proceed with step 2.
14 oz. dark or bittersweet (about 70% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
½ cup packed light brown sugar, plus more to taste
3 cinnamon sticks
Generous pinch of kosher salt
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tsp. almond extract, to taste
½ tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne, plus more for topping
Whipped cream and cocoa powder, for topping (both optional)
Mezcal or tequila, 1.5 oz. per serving (3 Tbs.), for spiking (optional)
MAKES ABOUT 10 SERVINGS
3. Warm Triple-Citrus Bourbon Punch
(Second from right, above)
This is for occasions when a real cocktail is called for: It’s boozy and not too sweet, very citrusy. In the first step, you macerate orange peel and sugar to make an aromatic sugar called oleo saccharum, which is a fancy ye olde cocktail term for oily sugar. It punches up the orange flavor substantially.
Zest of 1 orange, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
⅓ cup sugar
3 cups orange juice
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if necessary
4 thin lemon slices
¼ cup honey, plus more to taste
10 whole cloves
4 cups bourbon
2 tsp. orange curaçao (optional)
10 dashes of bitters, preferably orange bitters, but any kind will do
Orange wheels or twists, for serving (optional)
MAKES ABOUT 16 SERVINGS
by Sarah DiGregorio. Copyright © 2017 by Sarah DiGregorio. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.