When we get colder weather during the holidays in Southern California, nothing beats the coziness of hands wrapped around a warm festive drink in a mug. It’s hard to overstate the comfort of warm drinks, especially in a house perfumed by a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom or star anise.
Mulled wine is a classic. And if you want alcohol to be at the center of the drink, try the Nordic glӧgg, which combines wine with vodka or aquavit and maybe port or Madeira for a one, two punch. But I like to have something that I can serve to alcohol abstainers children.
Mexican ponche is a spiced fruit extravaganza that includes sugar cane, guavas, pears, crabapples, and dried fruit. It’s delicious on its own or with a shot of rum or tequila. Some folks add tamarind pods or dried hibiscus flowers to the mix.
If you want something simpler, mulled apple cider can be made with or without alcohol, by simply heating up warm spices with good fresh cider plus lemon or orange juice and peels to add that zing of acidity.
And a reminder: There are few drinks as perfect for the season as hot chocolate. I love it with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg this time of year and one big toasted marshmallow. You can toast marshmallows indoors under your broiler on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.