Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Tradition of Serving Cocktails Hot

I think it was one of the first things people did with alcohol, heat it up. I know they also mashed it, mixed it with fruit and dipped bread in it. Meglethin is a still famous medievel drink recipe. But heating up alcohol makes a lot of sense. Nothing makes us warmer than a cocktail. It brings the blood to the surface and tightens the blood vessels, causing the blood to move more slowly. Residents of freezing climes and snowy regions are well aware of the warming qualities of Rum or Brandy, which is once brought to frostbite victims to help get them warmer. Remember the stories about Saint Bernards taking a keg of Rum to stranded climbers and others lost in the snow? This was a bit of a stretch, a fable, in fact, because they didn't send little kegs of Rum on the necks of these dogs. That is an urban legend but it did emerge from the general knowledge that a little Rum can help someone through a very cold night. In fact, more alcohol is consumed in those countries known for extreme coldness such as Russia, Poland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway. In fact, these countries make some of the best liquors, beers and wines. Drinking, in these parts of the world, is a long honored tradition.

In the winter there is nothing I love more than a shot of hot Brandy in a snifter. In the old days I used to heat it in a stovetop teapot but today I just pop it in the microwave. Heat the Brandy in a glass and then transfer it to the snifter so you can hold it. The same can be done with Rum. If you heat up Rum instead of Brandy, remember to add a dollop of whipped cream to make it super yummy. Brandy is best drinken neat. It just has a great taste that shouldn't be altered or covered up. This is a very basic hot toddy, one of the most popular and accepted drinks in our culture. People who wouldn't touch a drink the rest of the year can be caught drinking an eggnog on Christmas and downing a hot toddy when the weather is very cold. A hot toddy works even faster than a raging fire but both, of course, is even better. There is a hot drink I will post the recipe for that is called the "Snuggler". And, indeed, a good hot drink on a cold night will make anyone snuggle up.

Most hot drinks are made with coffee and are often drank during the late day or in the evenings. Even with a shot of alcohol, coffee drinks are not recommended for bedtime. Save this for the hot toddy or hot buttered Rum. But nothing is better after a late brunch or an early dinner than a hot coffee cocktail. It is the best after dinner drink they have ever invented. These sort of after dinner winter warmers should be offered at all brunches and earlybirds. I know this is not the practice but a bar that serves food could make a business of older folk and young ladies if they were to offer hot coffee cocktails. Just consider the popularity of caffeine infused liquor drinks they are selling to young people today. And the popularity of places like Starbucks and cybercafes with a coffee bar. The idea is a good one if someone were to make a business of it.

If you are a bartender or just want to operate a versatile home bar, you should learn to make good hot cocktails. This winter, homemade mixes will save lots of money and bring the fun home. Bartenders would be well served, excuse the pun, to offer hot coffee drinks during the winter as a special for the first drink when patrons enter the bar. Offering hot coffee drinks at a special price does several good things for the bartender. It warms up the customers, allowing them to relax and settle in. It also helps to waken them up just a bit so that they drink more as the night goes on. And the great price will bring them back in. As long as it's cold outside, you can pretty much bet that they are not going to wander back outside too soon or, at least, not before buying another drink or two.

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