7 hot drinks to warm you up this winter

My mom always greeted my sister and I with huge mugs of hot chocolate piled high with marshmallows after an afternoon spent playing in the snow. We would strip off our soggy snowsuits, toss our water-logged mittens onto the floor, and scramble into the kitchen to wrap our frosty fingers around the steamy mugs. Well, some things never change, hot drinks are still my favourite way to come in from the cold (the only difference now is that I prefer my hot chocolate to be served with brandy instead of marshmallows). So whether it’s après ski, après snow forts, après dinner, or après nothing-in-particular, hot drinks are one of the most simple and sweet way to celebrate winter. 

Toffee Coffee (serves 2)

This potent after-dinner drink is strong enough for the most adult of adults, but the crunchy candy topping will please the kid in anyone. 

  • 1 cup strong-brewed dark-roast coffee
  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Kahlúa
  • 1/4 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz cream
  • Whipped cream
  • Skor bits

Mix coffee, bourbon, Kahlúa, Grand Marnier, and cream in a glass or mug. Top with whipped cream and Skor bits.

Chai (serves 2)

With this drink, simmering spices fill the house with scents of the exotic East; it’s perfect for a blustery afternoon spent watching the snow blow outside. 

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tea bags, preferably Darjeeling
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp pistachios
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • Pinch ground ginger and ground nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. 

Hot Chocolate (serves 2)

Rich, dark, and delicious, this is the way hot chocolate is meant to be enjoyed. 

  • 2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Marshmallows
  • 1 oz brandy

In saucepan melt the dark and milk chocolates into the milk and water over low heat. When chocolate is melted, bring to boil, whisking constantly until smooth and frothy. Add brandy and stir.  

Lemon Bourbon Toddy (serves 1) 

Stave off the winter woes with this potent blend. Artisanal bourbons are showing up on liquour store shelves from coast to coast, so there’s tons for your to sample before you find your favourite! 

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Stir together honey and water until dissolved and pour into glass. Stir in bourbon. Garnish with lemon wedge and cinnamon stick.

Cozy Cranberry Apple Cider (serves 4)

If you like, sweeten this comforting cuppa with honey or maple syrup. And if it’s a festive spirit you’re after, garnish each mug with apple slices, orange slices, cranberries or cinnamon sticks.

  • 3 cups unsweetened apple cider
  • 3 cups cranberry cocktail
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 strips orange peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves

In saucepan, bring cider, cranberry juice, ginger, orange peel, cinnamon stick and cloves to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve and serve, warm, in glasses. 

Classic Mulled Wine (serves 4)

Starting with a holiday spice-infused simple syrup, the flavours combine more readily and eliminate the need to simmer the wine for hours. You can boost the mulled wine with a splash of brandy at the end, if you like. 

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 4 whole peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)

In saucepan, bring water, sugar, orange, cardamom, allspice, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon stick to boil; reduce heat and simmer until it becomes a thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and brandy and heat through. Strain through fine mesh sieve and serve. 

Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (serves 2)

This sweet and simple drink is perfect for any snowy afternoon. 

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 peppermint tea bags
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Chopped candy cane (optional)

In saucepan, bring milk, water and tea bags to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking often so milk doesn’t burn, for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Discard tea bags. Whisk in white chocolate until melted. Divide among two glasses, top with whipped cream and candy cane if desired.