10 of the best hot cocktails from around the world

10 of the best hot cocktails from around the world

When the cold weather sets in, one of the best ways to cheer up the cold and gloom is with a delicious hot cocktail, especially one made with festive spices. The key to heating alcohol is to do it gently, without letting the mixture get above about 65C. Here are the best hot drinks you can try this winter.

1. Canelazo, South America

Canelazo is the kind of drink you want to wrap your hands around on a cool Andean night – cinnamon soaked in hot water and unrefined sugar, topped with aguardiente or rum. Because the recipe is hundreds of years old and made across the highlands of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina, there are plenty of variations: sometimes the drink is made with cloves or anise, with citrus or with the sour meat of the local naranjilla fruit .

2. Black balm tea, Latvia

Subject of great national pride in Latvia, black balsam is a strong, bitter herbal liqueur that has been made according to a secret recipe more or less constantly since 1752 (except for a short break during World War II). Rarely drunk nicely, it is often added to hot tea (or occasional coffee) or served with heated cranberry or blackcurrant juice.

3. Kanzake, Japan

Once upon a time, sake was quite expensive to import, so outside of Japan, cheaper sake was heated to improve their taste, while the best ones were always served chilled. But in Japan itself, carefully heated high-quality sake has been common for centuries – and other countries have now also grabbed the good stuff. Known as kanzake or okan, heated sake is best to try at a bar where they really know what they are doing, as dry, sweet or aromatic sakes react differently to varying heat.

Read more: The secret life of the case, Japan’s national occupation

4. Jólaglögg, Iceland

Part of the Nordic tradition for winter drinking of glogg (mulled wine) is jólaglögg Iceland’s version. Expect something a little more booze than many red wine-based mullets, as some recipes involve aquavit, vodka, schnapps and / or port wine, and along with all the usual warming spices, you can also taste cardamom and cranberries.

5. Gløggøl, Poland

If mulled wine is not your thing, try grzane piwo, Polish mulled wine. It is usually seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and occasionally ginger, then sweetened with honey or sometimes raspberry syrup. A richer version, meanwhile, is made by whipping egg yolks and sugar together before blending through the hot beer to a creamy emulsion.

6. Jägertee, Austria

Originally divided between hunters who track prey through the snow (the name means hunters’ tea), jägertee has become a mainstay of the Austrian après-ski experience. It is made with local spicy rum plus hot black tea, red wine, brandy, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and lemon.

7. Rakomelo, Crete

During the long, hot Cretan summer, rakomelo is served cold, but in winter, the mixture of thyme honey, tsikoudia (Crete version of raki), cloves and cinnamon is heated – sometimes in a briki, the characteristic stove used to brew Greek coffee. Unlike many mulled wine, rakomelo is served as a short hot beverage or digestif at the end of a hearty meal.

8. Warm greased room, USA

Made by whipping melted butter, sugar, rum, spices and hot water together, hot buttered rum is a sweet drink with a bitter history. It was probably invented in 18th-century colonial America, when the expansion of the rum market (part of the triangular trade between America, Africa and Europe – with people, coffee, textiles, sugar and weapons) meant that hard liquor was cheap and easily available.

9. Christmas Punch with Strike, Mexico

This Mexican hot punch is wildly popular in the run up to Christmas, especially since there is also a non-alcoholic version (simply Ponche Navideño, without the picket). It is very adaptable, taking the fruits that are locally available, from pineapple and guava to apples and pears, as well as tamarind and hibiscus. It is almost always made with tejocotes, sour fruits that look like tiny apples (and can be canned in syrup outside of Mexico), as well as cinnamon, dried fruit and sugar cane. The fruits and spices are simmered together and tequila, mezcal or brandy are added just before serving.

10. Chai cocktail, India and beyond

Chai – Indian spicy tea – is not traditionally alcoholic, but its combination of ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, anise and black pepper makes it a perfect base for hot cocktails. Countless hot chai cocktails are made in bars across India (and beyond) from simpler hot toddy drinks with whiskey, lemon and honey to more intricate creations with added cream, chocolate or liqueur.

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