cup of hot apple cider and a cookie tin

Fun And Festive Holiday Beverages

Let’s face it, by this time in December we’re all a little stressed and probably don’t need yet another creative endeavor to add to the list. That’s where fun and¬†festive holiday beverages come in handy! A little bit of fun and creativity in the making, and a relaxing moment in the consumption. Definitely a win-win.

So without further ado, here are my favorite hot drink recipes for this time of year:

Mulled Wine:

One of the great things about mulled wine is that you can make it, have some, then refrigerate and reheat it later on-demand. Either keep the original bottle to pour it back into (use a funnel for this), or use a nice decorative pitcher. Whatever fits best in your fridge. Either re-cork the bottle or use cling film since the acid in the wine can react with tin foil and it can make waxed paper soggy, diminishing the seal. When you’re ready for a glass just pour it into a mug and microwave.

If you have a party you can make a lot of mulled wine and keep it on low on the stove throughout, then whatever is left can go back into bottles for later. I haven’t really tested the full shelf life, but so far it’s been fine for up to five days in the fridge. If you want to let the flavor develop more in storage, then leave the spices in. If it’s perfect, then use a strainer to remove them before storing.

What you will need:

  • 1 bottle of red wine (a basic red will work great, and definitely don’t use the good stuff for this)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 7 cardamom pods
  • 5 black pepper corns
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 rounds of dried orange, if you have it
  • Possible additions: sugar, fruit juice, orange liqueur

How to make it:

  • Add everything to a pot with a heavy bottom.
  • Heat gently until steaming but not boiling, then continue at that temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Taste it. If you want it spicier, cook it longer or add a little more of the spices you like. If you want it fruitier you can add fruit juice, like orange or pineapple, but go slowly (one tablespoon at a time) and taste it before adding more. You can also add orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier, to increase the fruitiness. Again, go one tablespoon at a time and be careful because this will also increase the alcohol content.
  • Depending upon the type of wine used, you may also need to add a little sugar. One tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition, should do the trick.
  • Serve in ceramic or glass mugs to keep it warmer longer and give it a cozy wintertime feel. Punch bowl glasses work great for this because they’re thick, but smaller than a giant morning coffee mug (this is wine after all).


Mulled Cider:

An absolutely fantastic option for designated drivers, minors, or anyone wishing to warm-up from outside. I always have a pot of this on the stove when we have a party in the winter and usually end up running out of mugs because it’s so popular.mug of hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick in it

Just like with the mulled wine, you can make it ahead, pour it back into the container, and reheat it on-demand, just strain it to remove the spices before storing.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 gallon of apple cider or juice with no added sugar (the cloudy kind looks most authentic, but juice works as well as cider in this recipe)
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
  • 9 cardamom pods
  • 7-9 black pepper corns
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise

How to make it:

  • Add everything to a pot with a heavy bottom.
  • Heat gently until steaming but not boiling, then continue at that temperature for 10 minutes.
  • Taste it. If you want it spicier, cook it longer (up to 20 more minutes).
  • If it seems a bit too sweet, which juice can sometimes be, add lemon juice one tablespoon at a time (up to about 1/4 cup), tasting after each addition, until you like it.
  • Serve in ceramic mugs with cinnamon stick garnish.

Note: If you leave it on the stove for a long time some of the water in the cider will evaporate so you might need to add a bit more (either cider or water).


Irish Coffee:

This classic takes a little more work than the other two, and can’t be made ahead and microwaved, but it’s a real treat for you and some very lucky friends. Definitely worth the effort.ingredients for Irish coffee: coffee, sugar, whisky

What you will need for each cup:

  • 1 cup of hot coffee
  • 1-2 sugars
  • a hefty dollop of fresh whipped cream
  • a shot of whisky (not the top shelf, but here you’ll taste the difference between grades)

How to make it:

  • Whip 1/2 pint of heavy cream until it holds a peak.
  • Fold in 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar (add a little more if you want it sweeter).
  • Set this aside.
  • Pour 1 shot of whisky into a mug.
  • Add 1 cup of hot coffee.
  • Add 1-2 sugars, depending upon how sweet you like your drinks. Irish coffee is typically served sweeter than a normal cup of coffee.
  • Stir to mix and dissolve the sugar.
  • Top with a hefty dollop of the fresh whipped cream.¬†The extra whipped cream will keep in the fridge tightly covered for a few days, just re-whip it for a few seconds before serving.
  • Enjoy!
    glass mug of Irish coffee with the whipped cream floating on top

Have a safe and happy holiday, and thanks for reading!

Have any questions or comments?