Drink, Drink This

Hot stuff: warming drinks for winter

New York bars manager Ben Fitzgerald’s favourite recipes for chilly weather

Like most people, Ben Fitzgerald finds that the right drink, served at the right time, can bring back all sorts of happy memories. “Mulled wine reminds me of winters at Dean Street Townhouse in London, as the drink’s so popular there,” he tells me. “While a posset is just Christmas in a glass, with all its sweet and spicy flavours.”

From the beginning of November onwards, members in houses around the world begin to want something a little less chilly to sup on, through the dark, wintry nights. At Soho House New York, their cosy ‘pool house’ theme means that the rooftop bar, in particular, will be specialising in warm drinks. We asked New York-based Ben his secrets for creating the perfect seasonal serves.

“I think, generally speaking, adding spices such as cinnamon and clove to rum or brandy drinks is a good start,” he says. “But the main rule is: the vessel must be hot in order to keep the drink hot.” It’s a good rule of thumb (especially as it keeps your thumbs nice and warm). The trend in New York is towards mulled cider and hot toddies this winter – you can see Ben’s twist on the below. In general, though, hot drinks are all about the nostalgia factor.

“Classics are classic for a reason,” says Ben. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”



Hot island punch

1oz Bacardi 8 Year Old rum
.75oz Velvet Falernum
.25oz Clement Creole Shrubb orange liqueur
.25oz lime juice
.75oz ginger, lime and mint
Tea concentrate (see below)

For the concentrate

6 lime wedges
A handful of mint 6oz ginger syrup

To make the concentrate, add the lime, mint and ginger syrup together in a glass teapot. Top with boiling water and leave to infuse for half an hour. Strain and bottle for later use. To make the drink, add the concentrate to the rest of the ingredients in a heated sake carafe. Serve into sake cups.


Absinthe posset

70oz milk
250g caster sugar
3g cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole pimientos
10oz absinthe
2g whole black peppercorns
5oz Velver Falernum
10oz pasteurised egg yolks

Add all the ingredients except the alcohol to a saucepan and place on a medium heat. As soon as the pan is warm, bring it down to a low heat. It’s very important to keep stirring to keep the egg yolks from scrambling. After ten minutes stirring constantly on a low heat, add the alcohol – then carry on stirring for another ten. Strain and batch. It will keep for up to two weeks. Reheat the drink in a bain marie when needed.


Truffle buttered rum

2oz Banks 7 Island Gold rum
2oz hot water
30g truffle butter compound
1 cinnamon stick

For the compound

1 Japanese barspoon of truffle oil
1 vanilla pod (just the beans)
1kg unsalted butter
1 level teaspoon of ground cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
260g caster sugar

Mix the ingredients for the compound butter, spread onto clingfilm and roll into a sausage. It will keep in the fridge for around three weeks. To make the drink, combine the butter with the rum and hot water, stir, then serve in a small goblet with a cinnamon stick garnish.


Find more drinks recipes…

Three brilliant cider recipes (including homebrew).

Eight new ways to drink vermouth.

Five classic gin cocktails.

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