“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
–William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
The storm of a new year and all of January’s hopes, promises and resolutions have now settled into the mid-winter reality of February – a snow flurry of 28 days when daylight lingers just a little longer. Outside the window one can feel the cold frosty silence of winter’s expanse; inside one searches for warmth – a heater, fire, wool sweater or hot steaming cup of liquid to help ease the midwinter chill.
And so, if you have “such a February face” that is full of frost and storm and clouds, try one of the recipes for spirit warming drinks below. They are sure to warm your hands and heart and bring a little Valentine-red to your winter cheeks!
Espresso Martini (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)
Brew a shot of espresso and allow to cool. Using a Boston shaker, fill the pint glass with ice, add all ingredients (including the espresso shot) except garnish, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with espresso beans.
Glogg (taken from Snow Country Cooking by Williams and Sonoma, 1999)
1 bottle dry red wine
1 & 1/4 cups brandy
12 whole cloves
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1/2 cup sugar
4 orange zest strips, each 3/4 inch wide and 2 inches long
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup blanched almonds
In saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, brandy, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the sugar and orange zest. Divide the raisins and almonds among 4 warmed cups or goblets. Pour in the spiced wine through a sieve and serve.
Cabin Fever (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)
2 ounces Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey
1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 ounce Frangelico liquor
Maple Candies, to garnish
Fill an 8-ounce glass with ice, add all ingredients, and stir with a straw. You can garnish with maple candies on the rim of the glass, if you wish.
Bourbon Port Punch* (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)
Fill an 8-ounce rocks glass with ice, add all ingredients except garnish, and stir with a straw. Garnish with half an orange slice wrapped around a maraschino cherry on a toothpick.
*A cocktail with some of the darker spirits that is more suitable for winter: bourbon to warm you, ruby port that tastes like maple syrup, and a little orange juice to provide that much-needed Vitamin C in the winter months.
Spiced Red Wine (Ypocras)* (taken from Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore, 2015)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground mace or grated nutmeg
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground grains of paradise (or substitute an equal amount of freshly ground black pepper)
1 bottle fruity red wine, such as Merlot
In a nonreactive bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, mace or nutmeg, cloves, and grains of paradise (or black pepper). Add the wine and stir well. Leave for 10 minutes then stir again to dissolve the sugar fully. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature of 1-2 days.
Strain the wine mixture through a strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth into a bowl. A brown deposit will be left on the cheesecloth. Rinse it off and strain the wine at least once more through the cheesecloth to clarify it as well as possible. Store the wine in an airtight container or original bottle, at room temperature. It will keep for up to 1 month.
*Ypocras is a wine that is never cooked (and so retains the alcohol content), infused with spices and sugar and kept at room temperature. An ancient method (from the 1300s) of preserving wine before bottles and corks, it is a cozy mulled wine for snowy ski weekends.