A toasty Ho Ho no no!

The season is upon us. Mulled Wine, Buttered Rum & Spice Cider… yum! Who doesn’t love a nice Hot Toddy in front of a blazing fire? Come to think of it… I don’t. Sure, I love inhaling burning carcinogens and singeing my eyebrows as much as the next guy, but when it comes to hot cocktails, I need to blow off some steam. Here are some tips when making a great hot cocktail:

1) LOSE THE BOOZE- Ever wonder why that first sip of a great gin martini is so much better than the last? The warmer our spirits are, the more aggressive the ethanol is perceived on the palate. We can usually use half as much distilled spirit in a hot cocktail as we would in the colder version of the same drink.

2) SWEET IS NEAT- It goes against the nature of a mixologist to make a cocktail that is too sweet. However, when it comes to hot cocktails, a little sweeter makes sense. People tend to nurse a hot drink between sips until it cools down. This allows the palate to reset so that every sip is like the first. Be careful though, you don’t want thick and syrupy.

3) THINK THIN- The biggest mistake every beginning bartender learns the hard way is that the thicker the glass, the easier it cracks when you add hot liquids. As the thicker glass heats up on the inside of the glass it expands, the outside is still cool and can’t compensate for the rapid expansion… crack! Ultra thin, delicate glassware is the best. Careful though, a thin glass with a stem is best if you want to avoid burning your fingers.

4) WAVE GOODBYE- Avoid using microwaves when possible. If you have to use a microwave, make sure to stir evenly and thoroughly after heating. Microwaves can be problematic and do not heat evenly. Cooking in a sauté pan is ideal over a low heat till you reach a simmer. Only add the alcohol to the mixers after they have been heated.

5) NOT 2 HOT- How disappointing is it to get a great tasting balanced hot cocktail only to burn the roof of your mouth on the first sip. Be sure to avoid making your cocktails too hot. Especially if you are using fat like butter or milk, they take longer to cool down. An ideal temperature should be between 130 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here is a hot cocktail recipe that I created at PER SE. Chef Eric Ripert from Le Bernadine called me from behind the bar to learn the recipe. Try this one for the holidays and ENJOY!

1 Tbl Spoon Salted Butter
1 Tsp Chestnut Paste (or Almond Paste)
1 Tbl Brown Sugar
½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp Confectionary Vanilla Extract
½ oz. Zacapa 23 Yr Solera Rum
1 oz. Steamed Half and Half
3 Dashes of All Spice Bitters

Glassware: Demitasse Cup or Small Fine China Tea Cup
Garnish: A Dusting of Freshly Ground Nutmeg over Steamed Foam
Method: Put all liquid ingredients into sauté pan and simmer above a low heat until butter is fully melted. Add spices to rum and dry shake (no ice) vigorously in cocktail shaker. Pour Rum into glassware and add liquid. Stir ingredients together with demitasse spoon. Top with steamed Half and Half foam and dust with Fresh Nutmeg. Serve.

For more recipes check out this CBS segment on my site under WARM WINTER COCKTAILS:


Happy Holidays!!

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