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The best hot alcoholic drinks for fall

Fall has fallen people, that means finishing off your summer ales and chilled white wines and drinking your booze hot.

The Internet abounds with many ways to make these classic drinks that will suit any palate. What I’m providing, though, is a time-intensive way that will be prettier and taste better, and a lazy way that will get booze to your mouth faster.

Mulled Wine

Image: Wikipedia

Time-intensive way:

Choose a fruity, full-bodied red wine, like a merlot or zinfandel; it should be decent, but with heating and spice additions it’s pointless to use a really good bottle to make mulled wine.

In cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter, put in some cinnamon sticks, anise, cloves, and nutmeg. You can play around with whatever spices you prefer, like adding vanilla beans or orange zest. Tie your spice bag together with a twist tie or kitchen twine.

Heat a pot that won’t impart a metallic flavor, e.g. non-stick or enameled cast iron, on medium-low heat. When the pot heats up, add the spice bag and wine; you can add slices of apples or oranges, as well. Heat the wine until it’s barely steaming, and then maintain that temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Take the wine off the heat and let stand for a few more minutes to further infuse it. You can add a couple tablespoons of honey or brown sugar if you want your mulled wine sweet.

Serve warm in mugs; you can add a splash of Calvados if you want a stronger drink.

Lazy way:

Buy a bottle pre-mulled wine, like Leelanau Cellars Witches Brew. Heat it on the stove in a pot or gently nuke it in a microwave safe vessel. Don’t heat it past boiling, though, or the alcohol will burn off.

Spiked Wassail

Image: Chowhound

Time-intensive way:

On the stove, mix together about 2 quarts of apple cider, 1 ½ cups of orange juice, and about ¼ cup of brown sugar; include a spice bag similar to the one for mulled wine. Let the juices and spices simmer for an hour or more. While that’s happening, dot 5 baking apples with cloves (about 3 cloves per apple) and bake them at 375 degrees until in a shallow water bath until they’re tender. Add baked apples and the peel of one orange (no white pith, which is bitter) to your simmering juice. Remove the spice bag and add 2 cups of Calvados or regular brandy. Serve warm.

(Adapted from this recipe.)

Lazy way:

Heat up a mug of apple juice/cider (even powdered packets will do), add a dash of cinnamon, and add a shot of brandy/preferred amber liquor.           

Hot Toddy

Image: Patrick Truby

Time-intensive way:

The beauty of the hot toddy is its simplicity: 2 parts hot water and 1 part bourbon, plus a splash of lemon juice, a touch of honey, and maybe some spices, then you’re done. However, there are a number of ways to dress up a hot toddy. You can mull whatever juice, cider, or tea you prefer, add fancy booze, a touch of bitters, citrus peels and zest, etc. That said I believe the hot toddy shines when the whiskey, not the additions, are the highlight.

Lazy way: Make a mug of lemon flavored tea. Add honey, cinnamon and/or allspice, and whatever amber booze you prefer.

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