Judging by the amount of tea we drink at dealchecker (we order it by the sackload), it’s fair to say that we are partial to a hot beverage, no matter what time of year. But with winter drawing in, we’ve been thinking about branching out at teatime. I’m not saying it’s a good idea to knock back Irish coffees throughout the working day (or is it?) but there’s such a brilliant range of hot drinks around during the cold season; we’re spoilt for choice.
At dealchecker HQ we’re lucky enough to have some fabulous coffee houses on Leather Lane on our doorstep, and that’s just for starters. For those heading further afield, here is a range of the best winter warmers and where to find them.
Not to be a purist, but you’ve really got to go to Ireland for an authentic Irish coffee, made from hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and topped with cream. The best places to try Irish coffee in Dublin are O’Donoghue’s, just off St. Stephen’s Green, and The Temple Bar. After Ireland, the next best place is…San Francisco! It was first served there at the Buena Vista Café in 1952, after a US journalist brought the idea home, having tried it on a trip to Ireland. The Buena Vista Café continues to serve Irish coffee 60 years later, and you can find it near Fisherman’s Wharf.
If whiskey isn’t your thing, you can find this style of drink made from most spirits. Add white rum for a Calypso coffee, vodka for a Russian coffee, gin for an English coffee (apparently!), Grand Marnier for a French coffee, and so on. Whatever your liqueur of choice, you’ll be able to find it somewhere in a tall glass with coffee and a nice big dollop of cream. And if you can’t find it, make it up yourself! Half the fun is perfecting the noble art of getting the cream to stay at the top.
The smell of mulled wine has got to be one of the best for letting you know that Christmas is coming. It’s true that you can buy ready-to-warm mulled wine in bottles at supermarkets these days (and this dealchecker has been known to take said plonk to a winter party or two to save time) but the real thing is so much better. (By the way, here’s a top tip if you’re serving mulled wine at a house party – keep it warm by putting it in the slow cooker that you never normally use!)
Glühwein is German or Austrian mulled wine, made from red wine, cinnamon, vanilla, citrus fruit and sugar, and you’ll find it served at any Christmas market worth its salt. Some of the best ones to visit include those in Cologne, Nuremberg, Munich and Vienna. And if you can’t get away, the German Christmas markets will even come to you! Pop along to the German markets in Leeds and Birmingham for a taste of Glühwein and much more.
If there’s one place where they know how to handle freezing weather, it’s Scandinavia. If you’re braving the cold in that part of the world this winter, make sure you try the Swedish version of mulled wine, glögg. You can find it at Christmas markets, with added raisins, almonds and often vast amounts of vodka or brandy – you have been warned! Check out the Liseberg Christmas Market in Gothenburg or the Stortorgets or Utö Christmas Markets in Stockholm. OK, yes, you can also find it in (whisper) Ikea, but where’s the fun in that?
Hot Buttered Rum
Now, this is something that doesn’t seem to have made it across the pond to us, but I feel that it really should. Just the name makes it sound like something straight out of Hogwarts (or is that just me?). It’s a hot drink made of butter, rum (as you’d expect), hot cider, sugar and cinnamon. It’s so popular in the USA that 17th January is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Seriously.
You can find a really popular version of this drink at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon, known as ‘Jay’s Hot Buttered Rum’ and it is made by creaming the hot drink together with vanilla ice cream and is served in a cocktail glass. I’m getting away from the hot drinks theme now, but it does sound delicious. Other places famous for their hot buttered rum are Sylvain and Bar Tonique in New Orleans. While I’m thinking about it, why don’t we have a National Tea Day? Who’s with me?
© Brenda Carson
I could probably write an entire blog post devoted to hot chocolate. I tried my first Italian hot chocolate at Caffè Zamboni in Bologna and have never forgotten it – you don’t tend to forget a hot chocolate so thick and luxurious that you can stand a spoon in it. Try it with panna a parte (cream on the side) at Rivoire in Florence and Bar San Calisto in Rome.
City Bakery, a popular upmarket coffee shop with two locations in New York City, has become well-known for its annual Hot Chocolate Festival. This year it lasted throughout February, with a different flavour for each day, from Earl Grey Tea Hot Chocolate to Vietnamese Cinnamon Hot Chocolate. The bakery’s homemade cookies and pastries are the perfect accompaniment. We’ll see you there in February 2013!
© Ruth Black
Finally, there’s nothing wrong with keeping to a good old British tradition – afternoon tea! After a hard day battling through the cold winds and the slush, there can be nothing nicer than shedding your layers of woollies and parking yourself in a fancy parlour to enjoy scones piled high with cream and jam, delicate cakes and pastries, a glass or two of champers…oh, and the tea of course.
Some London establishments you might want to try are the Ritz, Fortnum and Mason (which recently started offering a savoury afternoon tea, for those without a sweet tooth – I’ve heard such people exist), and the Athenaeum Hotel, which recently won the Tea Guild’s award for Top London Afternoon Tea 2012! Yes, it’s indulgent, but it’s such a pleasure – and anyway, who doesn’t need a bit of indulgence from time to time?
Do you have a favourite winter warmer that we’ve missed? Let us know if you’ve got something up your woolly sleeve. And for great deals on holidays to go and sample these delicious drinks, you know where to go…