4 Winter Drinks to Simmer on Your Ranges

Having winter drinks on our ranges at home is one of the best things about wintertime, and it’s no different in restaurants.  As kids we enjoyed seeing how many miniature marshmallows we could fit into a mug of hot cocoa.  We sipped at non-alcoholic eggnog, then wondered why anyone would want to sip at eggnog.  The smell of cider filling the house meant that the holidays were fast-approaching.  The fact is, warm beverages are a tried-and-true part of the winter months.

The nature of holiday libations ranges from rich, creamy refreshments to punches that are easy on juice and heavy on wine.  More often than not, the idea behind warm winter drinks is to throw all the ingredients into a saucepan, then let them simmer until ready to serve.  They are great to have readily available, because once they require no upkeep, as long as you keep them warm.  Here are four of the best winter drinks to please your guests.

1. Wassail (Non-Alcoholic)
This kid-friendly version of the traditional hot beverage will warm children and adults alike.  Its name comes from the Old English phrase “waes hael,” which means “be you healthy,” and was involved in an old drinking ritual that ensured a good harvest.  Today’s wassail is a more of a variation of mulled cider.  It usually combines several fruit juices cooked with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and sometimes allspice and ginger.  The result is a fragrant, flavorful punch.

2. Hot Chocolate
This winter drink is a classic.  However, there are many, many ways to put a new spin on hot chocolate.  Belgian hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, hot chocolate Agasajo-style, and even peanut butter hot chocolate are all options.  Give your hot cocoa a kick with ancho chile and cinnamon, add a dollop of marshmallow fluff, or drizzle with some ever-trendy salted caramel.  Whatever you do, make sure you top it with real whipped cream and serve with biscotti, cookies, or toast.

3. Mulled Cider
Mulled cider is one of the timeless, great holiday drinks.  To make it, combine apple cider, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves, an anise star, and some thinly sliced oranges for a citrusy kick.  Let it simmer on one of your ranges for as long as you would like; the longer it simmers, the more flavor it has!  (Besides which, no one likes cold cider.)

4. Hot Spiced Ginger Lemonade
It turns out that lemonade is no longer limited to summertime.  Although it sounds an unlikely candidate for a winter beverage, it’s actually perfect for cold winter days.  It generally requires the same spices as a wassail, but uses lemonade instead of fruit juices.  The result is a lighter-tasting version, and a great way to surprise guests with the unexpected.

No matter how you choose to fill your menu or your ranges, be sure to be creative with your holiday drink recipes.  Your unique drinks will keep guests coming back for more!

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