Imbibings of comfort and joy

No fireplace? Buttered rum and mulled wine bring the warmth.

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At the famous Christmas market in Nuremberg, Germany, mulled wine is served in boot-shaped souvenir mugs.

Picture yourself by the fireplace of a mountain lodge, a snowstorm outside, the jingle of sleigh bells.

Even if that's just a fantasy, you can put your feet up at home and relax with something rich, spicy and warm to drink.

For starters, consider the classic hot buttered rum. This drink relies on cream, butter, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and the rum for its good flavors.

Or mulled cider or wine, brimming with sweet spices. This classic has been around since medieval times. Because there was no refrigeration then, and sanitary water wasn't always at hand, some think the spices and heat made mulled wine a more healthful drink.

Mix your own mulling spices, using whole cloves and allspice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, orange or lemon peel. Or buy prepackaged mulling spices, which are usually available at supermarkets this time of year. And experiment with either red or white wine.

Hot chocolate and hot tea make good bases for a grog or hot toddy. For chocolate, a mint-, coffee- or cherry-flavored liqueur provides a good complementary flavor. Tea wants something less sticky-sweet, like mulling spices and a shot of rum or brandy.

Even without a mountain lodge, a hot drink by the fire and the twinkle of holiday lights can make for a warm celebration.


Hot Mulled Wine

Makes 12 (3-ounce) servings

11/2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 lemon, sliced

3 sticks cinnamon

3 whole cloves

1 (750-milliliter) bottle red wine

Nutmeg, for sprinkling

1. Combine boiling water, sugar, lemon, cinnamon and cloves; stir until sugar dissolves.

2. Add wine; simmer 20 minutes, taking care not to boil the wine.

3. Strain out the spices. Serve hot in cups with a sprinkling of nutmeg on each cup.


Hot Tea Grog

Makes one drink

4 or 5 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon honey, or to taste

1 ounce cognac or brandy

1 ounce dark rum

1 cup hot tea

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch of grated nutmeg

1. Mix cloves, honey, cognac, rum, hot tea, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a saucepan.

2. Heat; pour into a warmed mug.


Minted Mocha

Makes one drink

1 ounce peppermint

schnapps

1 cup hot chocolate

4 tablespoons whipped cream Chocolate nibs or crushed peppermint bark for

garnish (optional)

1. Add the schnapps to the hot chocolate and stir. Top with whipped cream.

2. Sprinkle with chocolate nibs or chopped peppermint bark, if you wish, to garnish.


Hot Buttered Rum

Makes six servings   

For the batter:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

11/3 cups packed brown sugar

1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground

cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground

cardamom

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For each cocktail (per single serving):

2 tablespoons frozen batter

11/4 ounces rum

1 pat butter

Pinch of mace

Make the batter

1. Combine butter, brown sugar, ice cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla extract with electric mixer to create a smooth batter.

2. Pour mixture into a plastic container with lid and seal. 3. Place in the freezer.

Make the cocktail

1. For each cocktail, place 2 tablespoons of the frozen batter in a mug and add 3/4 cup of boiling water.

2. Add rum and stir until batter is melted.

3. Garnish with pat of butter and a pinch of mace.

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From Beverly Hills Hotel Bel-Air