When it’s cold and dark outside, your customers come to you looking for cheery comfort. Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller pick out the warming winter classics that will bring some hygge to your hearth life despite the chill
We crave comfort in this world. Call it what you will: hygge in Danish, mattari in Japanese slang, or just plain and simple ‘creature comfort’. Bitter, cold and dark, the dank winter months require a simple recipe: a cuddly throw blanket, dry socks and a soothing sip in hand, with or without a roaring fire.
History reminds us that comfort drinks are essential to the winter repertoire. The aromas of mulled wines and ales permeated not only the air of taverns and inns since medieval times, but were also the olfactory greetings that welcomed you home from a hard day in the fields.
History is chock-a-block with inspiration.
As the Little Ice Age enveloped Europe and North America in a cloak of below-average temperatures between the years 1300 and 1870, beverages that soothed both body and soul were essential.
The first warming classic that comes to mind required a red-hot loggerhead that lay at the ready, stoking in the roaring fire. The Hot Flip blended ale with rum or brandy, egg yolk, plus two pricey ingredients for the cocktail enthusiasts of 1695: sugar and a grating of nutmeg.
What we're drinking
A 10th anniversary is cause for celebration in anyone’s book, and who deserves it more than the Connaught Bar and its maestro Ago Perrone? His Connaught Martini is a tried-and-true classic that’s crafted and served at your table in this oasis of drink serenity. Made with either Tanqueray No Ten Gin or Ketel One Vodka, this silver bullet combines spicy notes from a blend of dry vermouths and the Connaught Bar’s housemade bitters. Anniversary or not, we will be back for more.
The Hot Toddy took the Ceylonese import of a heated arrack-based punch and transformed it, in the 1700s, into a steamy sip of whisky, rum, brandy or even gin spruced up with a touch of sugar and a bit of warming spice such as nutmeg (again), cinnamon or clove.
The Victorian era toasted the good company of the Gin Twist, which made its debut in 1823, just as London dry gins gained popularity. Imported citrus and sugar began to grace the tables of not only the gentry but commoners as well.
A modernised Flip made with rich Jamaican rum, known as Tom & Jerry, made its appearance sometime after sports writer Pierce Egan introduced, circa 1820, the rabble-rousing members of the sporting life – including protagonists Tom, Jerry and Logic – in the monthly instalments of his Life in London. This formula naturally gave way to an even simpler compound: Hot Buttered Rum.
Though temperatures rose a degree or two during the last century, ideas continued to flow and calories of drinks exponentially rose. One 20th-century staple is the Irish Coffee, created by Joe Sheridan during the 1940s to warm the weary passengers of a rerouted transatlantic flight that landed at Foynes Air Terminal.
There’s also the splash of rum or cognac added to a mug of rich, hot drinking chocolate, and the ubiquitous Hot Milk Punch. To riff on these, we came up with a non-dairy solution for the opening drinks menu at the Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden: Language, Truth & Logic. Modern, low-cal elements such as unsweetened almond milk and spicy chai tea can offer those same comfort notes as full-fat milk, cream, cocoa and butter.
To come almost full circle, we’ll sign off with a 21st-century variation on a hot mulled sip: Hot Mulled Sloe Gin. Cloudy apple juice and berry-rich sloe gin marry so well with two popular flavours of comfort, vanilla bean and cinnamon. And the aroma of simmering apple and spice wafting from the kitchen to your favourite snuggle spot will happily welcome you home after a hard day of work. Enjoy!
Hot Gin Twist
Glass: Irish coffee cup, tea cup or mug
Language, Truth and Logic
Glass: Tiki glass if served cold; Irish coffee cup if served hot
50ml Appleton Signature Rum
Hot Mulled Sloe Gin
Glass: Irish coffee cup, tea cup or mug
25ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin