Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble

Hot Cocktails

by Katherine Perry

Hot Cocktails

Ian MacLellan

Once it’s clear that the chill has permanently gripped the air, I go on a vigilant sickness watch. But here’s the thing—I rarely get sick. I attribute this to a time-tested and me-approved cure: as soon as I feel a pressure in my sinuses or an itching in my throat, I prescribe myself several hours of inane television, 10 to 12 hours of un-alarmed sleep, and foremost, a hot, boozy potion. This routine never fails. I wake up without a trace of stuffiness or soreness, always feeling like I’ve just earned my homesteader apothecary merit badge.

I’d like to think that the fear of being almost constantly on the brink of terrible illness is how my great affection for hot cocktails blossomed. But I am just slightly more self-aware than that—like anyone, I’ve been known to engage in some seasonal malingering, reinforced with sweet, inhibition-relaxing rewards. So why the pretense? For me, there is something about the hot cocktail that seems to require an event, or at least an excuse. Other drinks are poured, popped, mixed—effortless partners in the daily dining ritual. But hot cocktails are drinks that actually have to be cooked, courses in themselves. It’s not an afterthought—it is, in fact, the whole idea.

If you have some kind of complicated New England neurosis surrounding recreational drinking, you may feel a resistance to an unapologetically alcoholic dish.

Luckily, I’ve navigated all of the tricky Puritan hang-ups for you, and can successfully lead you down the path of least rationalization. I’ve got three fail-safes: call it a tonic, call it a dessert, or call it a party. With this triad of allowances in your pocket, few fermented liquids will remain un-mulled, and few herbs and spices will escape your sachet.

However you get here, trust me, you’ll be glad you’ve come. The addition of heat opens up a whole new dimension of flavor: drinks that are steeped, simmered, and wafting steam can be lush and sumptuous, spicy and nostalgic, or therapeutic and medicinal. They radiate heat and coziness through the drinker. I like to think of it like sipping a roaring holiday fire—a warmth that rises from the inside, intoxicating in the best way.