Winters in Tahoe can get really long. All the short and snowy days make the perfect opportunity to host winter parties or cuddle up to cozy evenings by the fireplace. Whether you are hosting a dinner party or enjoying a night in, adding your own homemade winter drinks is a great way to spice up the evening. You can offer your drinks as a warm welcome for your guests, or serve them as a dessert.
We’ve put together a few tasty drink recipes inspired by traditional winter drinks served around the world. When making your crafty concoctions, use your creativity and feel free to combine flavors to wow your guests with a one of a kind winter drink!
Mulled wine is one of the most popular winter drinks during the holiday season. You can get a hot mug of mulled wine in many ski resorts, Christmas markets, and restaurants around the world. It is a traditional offering, and you can prepare it your own way by adding different spices or a little bit of brandy according to taste.
You will need:
- 1 bottle of red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 orange
- 2-4 tablespoons of sugar or honey
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 star anise
- Optional: You can add 1 cup of apple cider if you like it on the sweeter side, or a bit of brandy
Set the orange to the side and combine the rest of the ingredients in a large pot. Simmer on low to bring all the flavors together, making sure the wine doesn’t boil. Cut the orange in half. Slice the first half of the orange into thin pieces and add in the wine, then squeeze the juice from the other half of the orange into the wine. You can also add brandy to kick it up a bit. These amounts are only recommendations, you can adjust by adding more or less of any ingredient to suit your tastebuds. Serve warm and garnish with fresh sliced orange and cinnamon sticks.
This is possibly the oldest alcoholic drink on earth. Mentioned in history books from numerous cultures, mead has been a beverage of royalty popular with Vikings, Mayans, Egyptians, and Greeks. Mead is neither wine or beer, it is a beverage in its own category. Mead is traditionally fermented with honey, yeast and water. The flavor of mead can vary according to the type of honey used. This delightful drink can be served cold as well as hot during the winter time.
To prepare hot mead you will need:
- 1 bottle of mead
- 1 orange, cut in half, with one half cut into slices
- 8 gloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
Pour the mead into a saucepan and add the sliced pieces of orange, cloves, and cinnamon. Squeeze the other half of the orange into the mead. Set over low heat and bring to simmer. Hot mead can be sweet, so be careful – it can be really strong. You can add a little bit of water to lessen the strength of the alcohol, or serve in smaller glasses.
Spicy Hot Chocolate
A nice cup of hot chocolate appeals to the child in all of us, this sweet drink is loved by many. There are several ways to prepare and serve hot chocolate for everyone to enjoy. You can make classic hot chocolate, flavor it with nuts or mint, or top it with marshmallows or whipped cream. To surprise the adults at the party, add a bit of liqueur or chilli powder. Your guests will definitely ask for a refill.
For spicy hot chocolate you will need:
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder (you can add 1/8 teaspoon of ground cayenne for more spice)
- 1 ounce of semisweet chocolate
- For an alcoholic version, you can use rum, brandy, or Irish cream
Start by heating the milk in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, then add the cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and chilli powder. Mix it all together and add semisweet chocolate. Keep stirring until everything is completely melted, but don’t let the mixture boil. Once everything is combined, pour into mugs and serve as desired. You can serve it plain, or with whipped cream or chocolate shavings on top. For an alcoholic version, add your preferred liquor to a cup and pour the hot chocolate mixture over it.
There is no doubt that eggnog is historical American tradition. If you like serving eggnog to your guests during holiday gatherings, try this delightful Italian version. The Italian style eggnog drink is called Bombardino and is very popular throughout the Italian Alps. Bombardino is a delicious alcoholic drink made with cream egg liqueur (eggnog or Advocaat) and brandy. You can also add espresso for a different flavor.
For each serving, you will need:
- 1.5 ounces of brandy
- 3 ounces of egg liqueur (or eggnog)
- Whipped cream and cinnamon to garnish
Start by warming up the egg liqueur (or eggnog) in a small pan and pour the brandy into a glass mug. Don’t let the egg liqueur boil, and when it is hot, slowly pour it over the brandy. Stir to combine the ingredients. Top your Bombardino with whipped cream and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. You can leave out the brandy and use plain eggnog for a family friendly Bombardino.
Hot Apple Cider
Non-alcoholic Hot Apple Cider is easy to make and tastes so good. Make your guests feel at home and pour them a mug of this comforting winter drink. You can add bourbon to your cider and enjoy the divine smell that brings a wonderful holiday atmosphere to your home. A fun variation: If you’d like to try something new, try Hot Pear Cider. Substitute pear juice instead of apple juice and add vanilla bean pod instead of black peppercorns.
To make a Hot Apple Cider you will need:
- 4 cups unsweetened apple juice
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tbsp. orange zest
- Pure maple syrup to add sweetness
- Alcoholic version: Add 1 ½ cups of bourbon
Start by combining the peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon in a large pot and cook over medium heat until aromatic. Then add nutmeg, apple juice and orange zest and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 to 10 more minutes. The longer it simmers, the stronger the cider will get. When you’re finished simmering, pour the cider through a mesh strainer into a mug. You can decorate with cinnamon sticks, apples, or whipped cream if desired. To make an alcoholic version, add bourbon to your preferred taste.
These winter drinks are sure to make your guests happy and will be a big hit at your next gathering. All of these recipes are easily changed to accommodate your personal taste. While most of these drinks are best served warm, you can also serve them cold, and all of them pair very well with the winter flavors you’ll be preparing all season long. These winter drinks are best when enjoyed with your family and friends, creating unique flavors and great memories. Feel free to share these recipes with everyone so they can also savor the flavors of the winter season!