Hot Cocktails



Looking at the the temperature outside you’d hardly know it was anywhere close to the holidays. It’s 93 degrees at this exact moment and the last thing anyone can think of is being home for the holidays, gorged with cranberry sauce and having visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads. Maybe swimtrunks and hotdogs, perhaps. But even this late season heatwave hasn’t stopped me from thinking about my upcoming holiday gatherings, which inevitably involve cranking up the AC so that we can pretend it’s actually chilly as we huddle over the fondue pot swirling chunks of new potatoes, cornichon and bread in savory, melted cheese.

Because our holiday parties tend to revolve around themes and menus of yesterday (I blame my house, it’s terribly 1950s to the extreme, and no, I wouldn’t change a thing), I wanted to experiment with a category of drinks that are probably better suited to Patagonia rather than Sunny Southern California: hot cocktails. Regardless of the outside temperature though, sipping a hot cocktail accomplishes two things: it warms your hands and tummy and makes you incredibly drunk. What’s not to enjoy about that? Besides, we can all sit around sipping cider or cocoa all the time, can we?

Here are 4 hot cocktails that will definitely be featured at my next shindig, no matter what the weather’s like. The suntan lotion, however, will be strictly optional.

Hot Frenchman
Would you care for a Hot Frenchman? Yesterday I enjoyed the tastiest Hot Frenchman. Why, I’d love a Hot Frenchman! Ok, I’ll stop. But I can’t stop chuckling over the title of this drink. It reminds me of this guy I met once who, wait. Nevermind. I’m married and this is a family blog. Anyway, this is nothing more than a warm basic sangria, in which case it would be a Hot Spaniard? That reminds me that once in Sitges a few years ago… oh Matt, be quiet.

4 oz red wine
3/4 oz orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 oz orange juice
1/4 oz lemon juice
1 twist orange peel
1 twist lemon peel

Heat well in a heat-resistant glass or cup. Stir, add twists of lemon and orange peel, and serve. Ooh la la!

Like many cocktails, there are endless variations on recipes. I like this one because I like to pretend I have a sore throat and the heat and alcohol will heal me and make me feel better. Go with it.

2 oz gold rum
1 oz lime juice
1 tsp caster sugar
2 oz hot water

Add to heatproof cup and allow the sugar to dissolve. Dust with nutmeg.

Hot Buttered Rum
This is the most basic of recipes for a hot buttered rum. Personally, I find that adding 3 lbs of butter and a gallon of vanilla ice cream to my cup makes it just a little bit richer. Just a little bit.

1 oz light rum
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp butter
4 cloves

Add the sugar, butter and cloves to a coffee mug. Pour the rum, and stir well. Fill with boiling water. Stir again, and serve. Repeat seven times.

Rum Hot Toddy
The history of the Hot Toddy goes back several hundreds of years. It probably began in the Bible because they didn’t have ice makers so they all drank their cocktails hot, hence "HOT" Toddy. Get it? Good. I’ll have another.

1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup spiced rum
4 tablespoons honey
3 cups boiling water
4 cinnamon sticks
4 lemon slices

Spread sugar on small plate. Dip rims of mugs into cold water. Dip moistened rims of mugs into sugar. Mix rum and honey in 4-cup measuring cup. Add 3 cups boiling water; stir to blend. Divide hot toddy among prepared mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and lemon slices and serve.

A very special thanks to my husband Adam for letting me light the fireplace for photos when it was so hot outside and then from stopping the dogs from eating cooled charred embers afterwards. Why on earth they do that is beyond me.



  1. says

    can i just say – firstly – that i LOVE LOVE LOVE the font on the photo! and the photos are brill. as always. the lighting is STRAIGHT out of my Good Housekeeping cookbook circa 1959! GORGEOUS. secondly – on that “hot frenchman”?


    I’m going to have to have a Swanky Holiday Party now, just so i can serve these fabulous drinks!

  2. m says

    I needed these recipes 2 years ago when I lived in Toronto! You don’t want anything with ice in it in February. They look delicious!

  3. says

    When I first glanced at the photo, I thought the lower right picture said “Bimbo” and I got excited that you named a drink after me!

    Oh hey, wait a minute…

    The hottest drink I ever consumed was a flaming margarita from El Compadre on Sunset. Now I know that you are advised to first blow out the flaming lime floating in the drink.

  4. says

    {{weep, weep}}
    Would you and Adam mind if I just snuggled in a big leather chair with you both and snorfed down a couple of those hot drinks?
    I’ve spent entire winters in front of fires with toasty, spicy quaffs… mm.
    Oh, wait. I’m in Northern California. We *need* the fires. And the hot drinks.
    (Ice cream? Ha ha!)

  5. says

    No cloves. Never. Not one. In anything.

    Nutmeg on a hot ruttered bum (as we call ’em), but no cloves. Ever. Not one.

    : D

  6. says

    I’m going to join cookie in the snuggle-snorkfest. It might be cooler here in Northern California than where you are, but not by that much… As I slather on the sunscreen and put on my sunglasses to take the greyhound on a walk, I find myself recalling fashion spreads that show people bundled up in warm fuzzy things, and feel envious.

    Your “history of the hot toddy” made my day. Biblical, indeed!

  7. says

    Mmmm, hot cocktails. Nothing I love more in the long, cold English winters! And full of realyl simple stuff that I would have in my pantry/liquor cabinet anyway. Not like the chi-chi summer cocktails full of exotic ingredients that you’d use once and leave to molder at the back of the cupboard… Gorgeous pics too.

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