Mull it over

Mulled drinks

The start of the winter season has been brutally cold in much of North America. As the temperature plummets, warming drinks become essential. While coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are wonderful for everyday sipping, sometimes you want something a bit different. For those occasions, mulled beverages are just the ticket.

The history of mulled beverages, mulled wine in particular, can be traced back centuries, as The Guardian explains. "Some trace mulled wine back as far as ancient Egypt, where wine was often spiced with pine resin and figs to ensure a safe transition to the afterlife. Others say it came from the Roman emperors; Apicius, the Roman collection of recipes from the 4th century AD, contains a recipe for "conditum paradoxum", wine that was sweetened with honey and spices."

While mulled wine may be the oldest, other mulled drinks, with and without alcohol, have become popular as well. Wassail is made with beer or mead, while mulled cider features either hard cider (apple and pear are the most popular), or sweet cider, sans alcohol. But you don't have to stop there. Other options include hot mulled sloe gin, a spicy mulled Negroni, and a much more tame-sounding mulled apple juice with chamomile.

In addition to the variability of the base beverage, there is quite a bit of flexibility in the spices used. Spices frequently making an appearance include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and star anise. Cardamom, allspice, and peppercorns pop up occasionally. Whether or not to include fruit is also up to the user although although some traditionalists frown upon it. Straining the mixture is also optional and is usually a matter of convenience.

Which mulled drinks will be warming you this winter?

Top photo of Mulled wine and bottom photo of Jared Brown's hot mulled sloe gin both from Observer Food Monthly Magazine

1 Comment

  • Jane  on  12/5/2014 at 4:16 PM

    A Swedish friend of mine has a glögg party every Christmas (it's next Saturday). Glögg is a mulled red wine with spices and spirits (there seem to be many different recipes on EYB) which is served over sliced almonds and raisins. Makes a party go with a swing (we're still dancing in the early hours!).

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