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Warm up this winter with coffee and tea cocktails

Mulled wine and Hot Toddy are not the only options for December. Add a comforting spin by stirring in a hot beverage into your winter drink

Coffee can be a versatile cocktail ingredient, used to concoct both warm and cold drinks. (Photo: Istockphoto)
Coffee can be a versatile cocktail ingredient, used to concoct both warm and cold drinks. (Photo: Istockphoto)

Warm cocktails mixed with sugar and spice bring comfort during long cold winters. Elevate this experience by stirring in a hot beverage, like tea or coffee.

“Hot toddy is done and dusted,” says Manoj Jangid, director, food & beverage, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. About a year ago, he introduced a Filter Coffee Martini inspired by the modern classic Espresso Martini. He says guests have lapped it up.

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Coffee can be a versatile cocktail ingredient, used to concoct both warm and cold drinks. The Filter Coffee Martini, which contains 30ml decoction, 45ml full cream, 60ml vodka and 20ml sugar syrup, can be stirred and warmed on a stove top—never in a microwave, for alcohol is combustible. Heat it for a few seconds so that the alcohol doesn’t evaporate. For a cold drink, shake it with ice. “To serve it with flair, pick a martini glass for the cold version and brandy snifter for the warm drink,” advises Jangid, adding, “Play around with this cocktail by swapping vodka with a peaty whisky or Old Monk.”

Even a classic like Irish Coffee, with hot coffee, Irish whisky and cream, can be switched up. Jangid shares a tip: Add a dash of hazelnut liqueur, or slap some mint leaves between the palms of your hands and stir them in for a refreshing twist.

To make quick coffee-based cocktails, keep a coffee syrup handy. Although it’s easily available online, consider making one at home. Dushyant Tanwar, mixologist and brand manager at the alcobev company Monika Enterprises, shares a recipe: In a vessel, mix in 50g of sugar, 60ml of water and 2 tablespoons of coffee, place it on a stove top, let it simmer and the syrup will be ready when the coffee and sugar dissolve completely. Add a teaspoon of the syrup into 30ml aged rum, stir in 90ml of hot water and garnish with a dollop of cream. “It’s a dessert-like, post-dinner boozy coffee drink,” he says.

The formula to winterise a tea or coffee cocktail is to think of it in three parts—pick a beverage, a spirit to complement it, and take it to the next level with a garnish. A cinnamon stick is a no-brainer, and Tanwar says its flavours can be unlocked by heating it carefully—avoid burning it—and placing it on the rim of your glass. His advice is no to let it drop into the drink—let the aromas lure your senses before you take a sip.

Those who find mulled wine cloyingly sweet can turn to warm tea cocktails. Pushpanjali Banerji, brand director at the alcobev company Kyndal group, suggests pairing tea with blended scotch. She says a masala chai decoction can be mixed with a blended scotch and sweetened with sugar for a novel winter cocktail. A nice spiced rum is tailor-made for chai premixes. “The molasses in rum have a natural sweetness which complements the flavour of masala tea,” explains Banerji. Even bourbon, like a Jim Beam, will pair well with black tea. It is, after all, the base spirit for hot toddy. Add a cinnamon stick as garnish.

“Nowadays, hot teas are served with a dash of gin in cocktails bars,” notes Jangid, adding, “Teas like oolong and Christmas tea infusions with berries completement the botanicals for a warm beautiful flavour.” So warm up this winter.

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