What Are Your Favorite Hot, Boozy Drinks?


Hot buttered mai tai. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

For those of you who are trapped in your houses and apartments by insurmountable mounds of snow, or are swaddled in sweaters and blankets to stave off the tooth-cracking chill that you're just going to have to deal with the next time the dog starts shifting from leg to leg, may I make a suggestion?

Prepare some hot booze.

Some of you are probably way ahead of me. For a huge chunk of the country, winter is currently at its frigid worst. With weather like this, you can be forgiven for needing a little bump in your coffee, or a little wahoo to a chill-busting mug of hot cocoa.

Many hot drinks either fall into the toddy camp—boiling water or tea, sugar and booze of choice, perhaps accessorized with a piece of lemon or a few cloves or even a wedge of baked apple—or into the charged-coffee camp, with a cup of strong coffee revved up by adding bourbon, or rum, or a favorite liqueur.

These are all well and good, and I've been known to turn to these during the winter, along with other steaming standbys such as a Hot Buttered Rum or (a favorite) a simple mug of good-quality hot chocolate with a hearty slug of green Chartreuse.

But hot drinks can be so much more than simple twists on familiar warmers.

In the days—make that centuries—before central heating, layering your insides with a boozy internal sweater was deemed essential, as much as wearing wool, leather and fur. And our ancestors were a creative lot; favorites included drinks such as Hot Rum Flip, aka the "Yard of Flannel," a heavy mixture of eggs, beer, rum, sometimes cream and sugar that was heated with a searing-hot loggerhead and that was as fortifying as a plate of pancakes doused with steaming liquor.

Drinks such as these were precursors to more familiar warmers such as the Tom and Jerry, which many consider a yuletide drink but was historically served throughout the colder months; and ancestors to other renowned 19th century drinks such as hot gin punch (don't knock it 'til you've tried it), whiskey skin and the venerable toddy.

And then there were the Bishops. The name was slung to most any bowlful of hot (and sometimes flaming) booze leavened with spice and fruit or fruit juice; the rum-based Flaming Holiday Punch also travels under the less holiday-esque name of English Bishop, and for a Farmer's Bishop, just swap out the rum for apple brandy. For a basic Bishop—a recipe I'll be sharing on Friday—simply start with baked oranges and a heated bottle of port, and do as nature intended whenever the mercury drops. It's like mulled wine that you'll actually want to drink.

The cold and snow may have you stuck inside, but there are many flavorful ways to keep yourself warm until spring. What are your favorite hot, boozy drinks?