Baby, It’s Cold Outside


January 2, 2024

Words by: Marcia J. Hamm

Drinks to warm from the inside out

The Christmas decorations have been put away, our pocketbooks are a little emptier than they were a month ago, and the weather indicates it is most certainly winter. Going to work and coming home in the dark is difficult enough, so after a long day, it’s nice to cozy up to a roaring fire with a good book, and something in a glass to warm you.

Warming drinks are ones typically made with a spirit containing an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 40 per cent or more. They can also be a full(er) bodied red wine, an unctuous white wine, or something fortified, like sherry or port.

Breeze through January with these exceptional drinks that are sure to warm you from the inside out.

Quevedo 20-year-old Tawny Port

Port is a fortified beverage from grapes grown in the Douro Valley of Portugal, and aged in the port of Oporto. An historical drink, it was fortified with a neutral spirit to keep it from spoiling on the long journey by boat to the United Kingdom in the second half of the 17th century. Whether the personal choice is a ruby or a tawny port, at 20 per cent ABV, it hits the mark as a warming wine. The Quevedo family carries a 5-generation heritage of grape-growing and port-making. The age statement on the bottle of the 20-year-old  tawny port means it has been aged entirely in wood. The characteristic flavours of toasted almonds and pecans, along with caramel and brown sugar notes, is a perfect sip after dinner. This Quevedo port retails for about $68 at many fine retail establishments.

Tesseron Lot 76 XO Cognac

Founded in 1905, Tesseron is world-renowned in the art of ageing cognac. While the main grape is ugni blanc, Tesseron also grows the rarer folle blanche and colombard grapes, which are more difficult to grow. Other producers gave up on these grapes, while Tesseron pursued their commitment to keeping these traditional grape varieties, thus giving their cognacs extra dimension. The Lot 76 is an exceptional blend of reserve stocks of cognac from the Grande Champagne region, matured for 30 years before bottling. Expressive and alluring aromas of orange peel, honey, and floral notes, the Lot 76 is smooth as silk with a spicy, yet rounded finish that seems to go on forever. This luxurious cognac can be found in stores for about $240.

Mulled Wine
Serves 6

This drink is not just for the festive season. Spice it up and serve it as an aperitif anytime company comes for dinner. Easy to make, yet, oh, so delicious.

1 bottle (750 ml) high alcohol red wine (such as a Spanish monastrell, a California zinfandel, or cabernet sauvignon)

1 ½ cups cranberry juice

2 Bengal Spice teabags (see note)

1 tsp cloves

2 tsp ground nutmeg

3 cinnamon sticks

For garnish: 

6 orange slices, thin and round

6 cinnamon sticks

Place wine, cranberry juice, tea bags, and spices into a mid-sized pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir to mix all ingredients and heat until warm. Do not boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes to blend the flavours. Using a small sieve, remove the teabags, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Ladle into a heatproof mug, and garnish with an orange slice and a fresh cinnamon stick.

Note: Bengal Spice is a caffeine-free, Chai-style blend by Celestial Seasonings. Any other brand that offers a tea with a profile of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves could work as a substitute.

Share this article:

Places To Be

See this month's local flavours, products, and services.