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1–2 July 2024
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Winter Warmers and Hot Cocktails to try this season

With winter having decidedly arrived over the past few days, it’s well and truly the season for hot cocktails.

Toddys are definitely in this year, with a few excellent, warming examples cropping up at bars such as Cellar at Kindred and The Beaumont’s Le Magritte, and there’s no shortage of mulling going on out there, not to mention spiking of hot chocolate. For a lowdown on what’s hot at the moment, we spoke to the bartenders and brands getting involved.

Hot Toddys and Hot Cocktails

The Mob Toddy at The Beaumont Hotel’s Le Magritte ticks all the boxes – boozy, warming, and easy to make, even with its rather long list of ingredients. These include a 60ml measure of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, 15ml of Amaro Nonnino, 15ml of maple syrup and 7.5ml of fresh lemon juice, along with cloves, long strips of citrus peel, coffee beans and 2 drops of DR Harris Bitters. Just add everything to a large glass and top with hot water. Stir and leave to infuse for a few minutes.

“The Mob Toddy is a twist on the classic Hot Toddy, inspired by the Mint Julep cocktail, a bourbon-based cocktail associated with the American South,” says Le Magritte Bar & Terrace manager Antonino Lo Iacono. “A good hot cocktail is made with great seasonal ingredients, good spices and of course, the right balance,” he adds.

The Apple Bramble Toddy at Cellar at Kindred, created by Julian de Feral, combines Père Magloire Calvados and Compañero Extra Añejo 12 year old overproof rum from Skylark Spirits, which is finished in cacao-tainted barrels. Added to this is Drambuie, a black winter berry blend, four bitters and acid-adjusted apple juice.

“I can’t help but associate [mulled wine/glüwein] with overpriced glugs at gaudy Christmas markets, typically put together with a lack of finesse or respect for the component ingredients,” said de Feral in a post about the drink. “I tend to prefer a solid hot toddy: a simple and simply delightful concoction that highlights the intrinsic ingredients, that can warm the body and soul.” 

Mulled drinks: top tips from the experts


If you must mull, you could do worse than taking inspiration from the Piazza at the Royal Opera House. For an eight-litre batch of their mulled wine, the team there use 6.25L of Shiraz, 0.5L of orange juice and 1L of tap water. Spices include cloves, nutmeg and ginger, and there’s 500g of sugar in the mix too.

To make a batch, spices are added to the water and infused for 10-15 minutes, after which the boiler is set to max power. Sugar, orange juice and wine are stirred in, and power is reduced just before everything reaches boiling point. The result is ready to serve after an hour and a half of mulling.

Speaking more generally, Royal Opera House head of bars and cafes Thomas Bunting has some advice when creating hot cocktails. “The balance between the flavours of the cocktail and the ‘burn’ of the alcohol is important to work out when developing a recipe,” he says. “Too little, and the cocktail turns flat when it chills, and too much just won’t be enjoyable. The perfect balance will have you sipping away all night.”


Black Cow’s Christmas Spirit offers a quick and easy option for making mulled drinks, such as its Mulled Apple, currently available at Sophie’s Steakhouse. To recreate it, heat up some good quality cloudy apple juice in a pan, pour into a mug with the brand’s Christmas Spirit, and garnish with a stick of cinnamon.

For Black Cow’s Dustin MacMillan, balance is crucial when creating hot cocktails. “You don’t want to go a clove too far,” he says, adding that timing is important too. “Make a big batch of your chosen mixture, add your spices, citrus oils and a touch of sweetness. Then add your alcohol – you don’t want it burning away whilst you sway the fine line of balance and flavour.”

Winter warmer inspiration

The festive season provides the perfect excuse – if any was needed – to add spirits to everything from coffee to hot chocolate. Take the XO Coffee, for example, created by the team at St-Rémy Brandy – as simple as combining 60ml each of St-Rémy XO and black coffee with 30ml of simple syrup in a mug, and topping with whipped cream. To get some chocolate flavours involved, there’s the XO Mocha, with 45ml St-Rémy XO, 60ml black coffee, 30ml chocolate syrup and 30ml of whole milk.


“A good hot cocktail will warm the hands and the soul, playing with comforting flavours, such as coffee, chocolate, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin) without hiding the taste of the spirit,” says St-Rémy’s international marketing director, Hervé Buzon. “It is all about the style as well: it should be richer than the usual cocktails, without being heavy.”

Another take on the boozy hot chocolate comes from Giffard, whose Menthe-Pastille Hot Chocolate combines the brand’s Menthe-Pastille with milk and chocolate powder, garnished with whipped cream and a mini marshmallow.

A less creamy, but no less indulgent hot cocktail from Giffard is the Peanut Buttered Rum, which combines 30ml of dark rum infused with peanut butter, 20ml of Giffard Banane Du Bresil and 80ml of hot water, garnished with a cinnamon stick. To make the infusion, mix 75g of peanut butter into 250g of dark rum and infuse for four hours. Filter through a sieve, and then through a paper coffee filter.

“A good hot cocktail has to be very round, smooth and carefully balanced, considering that temperature can amplify some flavours and hide others,” says Giffard’s Europe brand ambassador Matteo Mosetti.

Agave specialist bar Hacha is making use of traditional fermented Mexican drink tepache in its hot cocktail this year. Made by fermenting the skin and core of pineapple, and usually served cold, Hacha’s winter spiced version is paired with Patron Reposado to create its Hot Tepache. 

For Hacha bar manager Robyn Evans, the basics of creating a hot cocktail are the same as for any other drink. “A good hot cocktail is one that’s been treated the same as any cold one in its creation. Balance and temperature are still just as important,” she says. After that, there are a few considerations specific to hot cocktails. “It’s important to consider the flavours you want to use and if they will work well warm, as well as consider, on a scale of warm to hot, what temperature you’ll serve the drink at.”

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