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Winter warmers

Hot drinks to take the chill off

Our winters may be short and mild relative to our northern hemisphere cousins, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a toasty hot drink when the cooler months hit.

No matter the occasion, there’s a winter drink that is perfect for the job when the temperatures drop. Whether you’re entertaining a crowd, warding off colds and flu or just fancy a hot chocolate by the fire, read on plenty of delicious recipes.   

Drinks with a dash

From the classic hot toddy to a lip-smacking mulled cider, these drinks will send the winter blues packing with a little kick.

Mulled wine

No Christmas in July celebrations are complete without a little mulled wine. A favourite at European Christmas markets – at any time of day – the heady scent of spices makes this drink an instant warmer.


1 bottle red wine – Merlot or Grenache are ideal choices as they are not bold enough to overpower, but still have enough weight to carry the spice flavours.

¼ cup brandy

2 oranges – 1 sliced into rounds

1-2 tablespoons honey

2 whole cinnamon sticks

3 whole star anise

4 whole cloves

Additional cinnamon sticks and orange slices to garnish


1.       Place the orange rounds in the bottom of a heavy based pot – a Dutch oven is perfect. Squeeze the juice from the remaining orange and add to the pot.

2.       Add the wine, followed by the brandy, along with one tablespoon of honey. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves.

3.       Warm over a medium heat until you see steam. Reduce to low when bubbles appear.

4.       Taste – be careful, it will be hot – and add more honey if needed. Keep on a low heat for 5-10 minutes, tasting regularly, as it will become spicier the longer it stays on the heat.

5.       Serve warm in heatproof mugs or glasses with garnishes if desired.

Mulled cider

This recipe couldn’t be simpler. A fruiter alternative to mulled wine, the addition of allspice adds a layer of complexity to the flavour.

You can make this drink using alcoholic or non-alcoholic cider. For the boozy option, use an unfiltered, non-carbonated scrumpy-style cider. For the no alcohol version, grab the best cloudy, non-fizzy apple cider you can find.


2 litres apple cider

2 cinnamon sticks (plus more to garnish)

2 whole cloves

2 whole allspice berries (also sold as whole allspice pimento)

1 orange, sliced


1.       Place all ingredients into a heavy based pot – again, a Dutch oven is perfect. Bring to a simmer.

2.       Serve hot in heatproof mugs or glasses. Garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.

Hot toddy

The classic hot toddy is a favourite for anyone with a sniffle and a desire to call it a night. While the lemon and honey can help soothe a sore throat or blocked nose, the whiskey is the ingredient most likely to ensure a good night’s sleep. Serves 1.


1 ½ nips (45ml) of whiskey

180ml water

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 lemon round for garnish

Optional cinnamon stick for garnish


1.       Heat water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer.

2.       Pour into a heatproof mug, add whiskey, honey and lemon juice and stir till honey dissolves. Taste and add more honey or lemon if desired.

3.       Garnish with lemon round and optional cinnamon stick and serve.

Hot buttered rum

Butter, sugar, spices and a dash of dark rum…what’s not to love with this warming drink? The perfect nightcap on a chilly evening, hot buttered rum uses ground – as opposed to whole – spices, meaning you’ve probably got everything you need in the pantry. Serves 2.


100ml dark rum

200ml boiling water

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cinnamon sticks, to serve


1.       Boil water.

2.       Combine sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.

3.       Slowly add rum and melted butter, stirring.

4.       Divide the mixture into heatproof glasses and top each with 100ml boiling water.

5.       Serve with cinnamon stick garnish if desired.

Chocolate and chai

Who can say ‘no’ to hot chocolate on a cold and rainy day? From the classic old-fashioned favourite to some mouth-watering flavourful alternatives, there’s a reason we all keep coming back to the drink from our childhood.

If chocolate and cocoa aren’t your thing, what about a delicious chai latte – a spicy, milky alternative to coffee that will definitely warm you up.

Hot chocolate

A perennial favourite, hot chocolate is a perfectly fine drink in its own right, but it also partners well with a range of different flavours that help make that chocolate sing!

There are two schools of thought when it comes to hot chocolate – with some recipes calling for cocoa powder and others preferring solid chocolate…this one takes the best from both worlds.

Dutch process cocoa powder refers to the way the powder is processed, with the resulting product being quite dark, mellow and smooth when compared with natural process cocoa powders. Serves 2.


100g dark chocolate chips

1 teaspoon Dutch process cocoa powder

300ml milk

Sugar or sweetener to taste (optional)

Cocoa powder or ground cinnamon to serve (optional)


1.       Place chocolate chips, cocoa and 60ml of milk in a saucepan over medium heat.

2.       Stir with a wooden spoon while chocolate melts.

3.       Add the remainder of the milk and whisk until foamy and hot – don’t let the milk boil.

4.       Taste and add sweetener if desired.

5.       Divide into two heatproof mugs or glasses and dust with cocoa powder or ground cinnamon if desired.


Hot chocolate can be dressed up with a dash of brandy or rum, or any number of schnapps flavours including peppermint, butterscotch, banana or cinnamon.

Peanut butter hot chocolate

How do you make hot chocolate better? Add peanut butter for a match made in heaven. Serves 4.


2 cups full fat milk

6 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

¼ cup smooth peanut butter

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt (optional – use only if there is no salt in your peanut butter)


1.       Add milk chocolate, peanut butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.

2.       Whisk constantly until chocolate melts.

3.       Add cocoa powder, vanilla and salt (if using). Whisk until combined, then remove from heat.

4.       Divide into heatproof mugs or glasses and serve immediately.

Gingerbread hot chocolate

All the tasty spices of gingerbread in liquid form and with just enough chocolate to satisfy a sweet tooth. You won’t want to share this decadent treat. Serves 1


150ml milk

50ml thickened cream

½ teaspoon brown sugar

½ orange, zested

pinch of ground ginger

pinch of ground cinnamon

1 whole clove

2 drops of vanilla extract

50g dark chocolate chips

Whipped cream to serve (optional)


1.       Add milk, cream, sugar, orange zest and spices together in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat.

2.       Remove from the heat and pour through a sieve into a jug, discarding the clove and orange zest.

3.       Pour the warm infused milk back into the pan and stir in the vanilla and chocolate until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Return to a low heat if needed.

4.       Serve in a heatproof mug or glass topped with whipped cream if desired.

Chai latte

Last but not least, the humble chai latte is among the world’s most delicious drinks. There’s a few ingredients and a little bit of fiddling to get started, but your first homemade chai latte won’t be your last – guaranteed. Serves 4.


2 cinnamon sticks

8 cardamom pods

4 whole cloves

6 peppercorns

1 whole star anise

2cm piece ginger, thinly sliced

3 teabags unflavoured black tea – English or Irish Breakfast or Ceylon are good options

500ml freshly boiled water

500ml whole milk

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

pinch cinnamon to serve


1.       Toast cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns and star anise in a dry frying pan until they are fragrant.

2.       Add the spice, along with the ginger and tea bags, to a teapot filled with half a litre of freshly boiled water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

3.       Add milk and brown sugar to a saucepan over a medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Be careful not to let the milk boil. Once it is lightly steaming, whisk to create foam.

4.       Strain the team between four heatproof mugs or glasses, then pour in the milk (hold the froth back). Stir to combine, top with milk foam and dust with a pinch of cinnamon.

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