The blue blazer is a show-stopper drink, but who's serving them in Seattle?
During last weekend's cold snap, I found myself at Ba Bar ,


Cold Weather Calls For Hot Drinks

The blue blazer is a show-stopper drink, but who's serving them in Seattle?
During last weekend's cold snap, I found myself at Ba Bar, where the tag line is "Street Food, Cold Drink." While the cocktail menu includes several cold, yet high-octane drinks likely to warm your belly, they also offer a piping hot concoction on the list, the Quentao. A steaming mug of hot mulled cider is fortified with barrel-aged cachaça and ginger syrup. The heady aroma of booze and ginger hits your nose while the sweet earthiness of the apple cider warms your palate. Garnished with a cinnamon stick for stirring, this winter warmer is exactly the kind of drink I was craving.

The ubiquitous hot drink for cold nights is the hot toddy. The mixture of whiskey (or brandy), hot water, lemon and honey is easy enough to make at home and can be ordered at pretty much any bar, regardless of its pedigree. Last year, fellow contributor Sarah Anne Lloyd wrote about the city's top hot toddies. My favorite is the one at Hazlewood, with its hand-knitted coozie and housemade pimento dram. Author David Wondrich has a recipe for a toddy-like genever drink in his book Punch. Lemon peels, sugar and spices and muddled together with hot water and Bols genever. The complete recipe can be found here.

The hot toddy is a tamer version of its predecessor, the blue blazer. This is the ultimate hot drink, because when made traditionally, it's set ablaze. It was created by Jerry Thomas, the mid-19th century bartender considered the father of American mixology. Two silver cups are filled, one with a high-proof whiskey and sugar, one with hot water. The whiskey is then set on fire and while burning, the water and whiskey are poured back and forth between the two cups, held up to a couple of feet apart, creating a long blue flame. The flame eventually extinguishes and a hot drink remains. Who's making these around Seattle? Rumor has it that Canon and Rob Roy are your best bets.

Local booze writer Paul Clarke will be teaching a holiday drinks class next month at the new Swig Well drinking academy. There, he'll talk about classic holiday drinks, served both hot and cold. The Tom & Jerry is one hot drink Clarke plans to teach. This 19th century classic is basically egg nog, but served frothier, spicier and hot. They've got it on the menu now through New Year's at Vito's.

Hot buttered rum is simple enough to make at home, but more flavorful and rewarding than a hot toddy. Plus, butter. Everything is better with butter. Local author and cocktail authority Robert Hess offers this dead-simple recipe on his site Put 1 teaspoon of butter and 2 teaspoons brown sugar into a preheated mug. Add 5 ounces of boiling water, stir to dissolve. Add 2 ounces of rum and stir again. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick. Sound like too much work? Get yourself over to Tommy Gun or Zig Zag Café, bars that each make a from scratch hot buttered rum.

My people come from Northern Europe, where winter lasts from September to May, with several feet of snow on the ground throughout. In that great white north, they warm their bellies with glögg. This Swedish mulled wine is fortified with vodka, spiced with everything from star anise and ginger, and cardamon and cloves, and garnished with a sprinkling of slivered almonds and raisins in the bottom of the glass. You can buy a pre-made glögg mixture at IKEA, but you can easily make it at home. I like this recipe from famed Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson:


2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces

1 teaspoon cardamom pods

1 small piece ginger, peeled

Grated zest of 1/2 orange

6 whole cloves

1/2 cup vodka

1 750-ml bottle dry red wine

1 cup ruby port or Madeira

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (see Note)

1/2 cup blanched whole almonds

1/2 cup dark raisins


1. Crush the cinnamon and cardamom using a mortar and pestle (or put them on a cutting board and crush them with the bottom of a heavy pot). Put them in a small glass jar and add the ginger, orange zest, cloves, and vodka. Let stand for 24 hours.

2. Strain the vodka through a fine sieve into a large saucepan; discard the spices. Add the red wine, port or Madeira, sugar, vanilla sugar, almonds, and raisins, and heat over medium heat just until bubbles start to form around the edges.

3. Serve the glögg hot in mugs, with a few almonds and raisins in each one; keep any remaining glögg warm over very low heat until ready to serve (do not let boil).

Note: When you are using only the vanilla seeds in a recipe, save the pod for vanilla sugar. One or two are enough to flavor a pound of sugar; freeze extra pods to use later if you like. Simply bury the pod (or pods) in a canister of granulated sugar and let stand for a few days before using. Replenish the sugar as you use it - buried in sugar, the vanilla pod will remain aromatic for a few months or longer. Use the sugar in desserts and sweets, or stir it into hot coffee or chocolate.

Follow Voracious on Twitter and Facebook. Follow me at @sonjagroset.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow