Clearly, we could all use a drink tonight. Moreover, it’s winter and that means it’s hot toddy time, though I confess I did take a break to make you some ice cream. Let’s not overthink it.
I have made many mulled and spiced wines, and if you dig through deep history you can even find a forgettable post about it on this very blog.
There’s not a lot to say about it, to be honest. The basis of any good hot toddy is brown spirits and winter spices. Warm gin, is that something you want? Rhetorical. To feel the warmth from your drink, you need to use a rich brown spirit like bourbon, rum, or brandy, and to make a composed toddy, you need cinnamon at the very least.
The cool thing about both brown spirits and brown spices is that they already have soft, “muddy” flavors. Curries and winter stews are the same way. They have big, layered flavors that all blur together into something indistinct, complex, and pleasant. We eat things like this in the winter because they are comforting, and the same principle applies to our drinks.
This exact mulled wine is a Norwegian variant of mulled wine, noteworthy because it is served with slivered almonds and raisins, which soak up the drink and, in the words of my friend Johan, “give you something to munch on”. I found the inclusion of almonds in this toddy to be a delightful addition.
Mulled Wine (Glogg)
1 bottle of red wine
200 ml brandy
100 ml port
150 g sugar
2 tsp cardamom pods
4 sticks of cinnamon
2 split vanilla beans
4 cm of peeled ginger
2 anise stars
1 fat orange peel
Combine all in a pot and simmer for ten minutes, being careful not to boil. Strain and serve in a cup with raisins and slivered almonds.
As you can see, this recipe is straightforward. It will not surprise you, but it will please a crowd, and if you’ve been trudging through snowy fjords, I’m told, it’s the perfect pick-me-up. I actually scaled the sugar down significantly from the original recipe, because I like my drinks to be only moderately sweet, but if you are inclined to more syrupy concoctions, I could not hold it against you if you doubled it.
Hot Toddy Lesson Three: Use a base of brown spirits and winter spices.