Irish Coffee & Classic Hot Winter Drinks

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As the long winter evenings approach and the climate becomes cooler, what could be nicer than to enjoy an exciting spice infused punch, enticing flamed cocktail or wonderfully warming Irish coffee? With such a wide variety to choose from, where did the fashion for hot drinks begin?

As the name suggests Irish coffee did in fact originate from a restaurant near an air base at Limerick in Ireland. In 1942, a young chef was asked to prepare a special drink to warm passengers on a stopover flight to America. He brewed a dark, rich coffee, added some good quality Irish whiskey, a little brown sugar and floated freshly whisked cream on the top. When a surprised American traveller asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” the inventive chef, Joe Sheridan replied, “No its Irish coffee!” and the classic hot drink was born.

Irish coffee is not the easiest of hot drinks to make; it can be tricky is to keep the cream separate on the top, instead of disbursed throughout the glass, before serving. To achieve the desired effect, make sure the coffee is piping hot and if you are using single or double cream, pour it slowly over the back of a spoon so that it floats on the top; with whipped cream, spoon it gently on the surface to ensure an attractive serving. Sugar is a matter of taste, the classic Irish recipe specifies brown sugar is be added immediately after the whiskey, but if you are unsure if a guest would appreciate the extra sweetness, then it can be served as an accompaniment after serving.

A perennial winter classic is the drink affectionately called grog. This drink was originally named after a British sea captain nick named ‘old grog’ in the 18th century. The drink consisted of rum mixed with water, a dash of brown sugar and lime. The original recipe has undergone many transformations and refinements over the years, but has become particularly popular in Germany, where it is called ‘Glühwein’ or glow wine, which is a reference to the hot irons which were once used for heating or mulling it.

Punch was introduced to England from India in the early 17th century and it has since become popular though out the world.  It is typically served at parties in decorative glass punch bowls. Recipes vary, but its base should be a spirit such as vodka or rum, alternatively, red wine can be used, to which fruit juice and lime are added; as well as green tea for authenticity.

Mulled wine is the most classic Christmas cocktail; with many connoisseurs believing it represents ‘nostalgia in a glass.’ This hot drink has a traditional, ‘olde-worlde’ flavor, and is an intoxicating mix of red wine and spices, with recipes varying from country to country, defined by local tastes and preferences.

But it is not only the classic hot drinks which have become popular in winter. After dinner cocktails such as a flamed Sambuca or Espresso Martini, may add an extra warm glow to winter dinner parties. For guests with a particularly sweet tooth, a specially laced hot chocolate, topped with marshmallows and cream can be delightful. This delicious drink is especially appreciated by sporting enthusiasts, après-ski.

Classic hot drinks are perennially popular, but there is always room for new invention. So which hot drinks are trending this winter?  In recent months, ‘tipsy hot chocolate’ has established itself as a firm favorite. With names as charming as the ‘Polar Bear Hot Chocolate’ and ‘Russian Hot Christmas’ their popularity is hardly surprising!

Whether your tastes are traditional or experimental, on these crisp, cold days and chilly winter evenings, why not indulge your palette with a classic hot cocktail or exotic winter warmer?

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