Liven the holidays with these mochas, ciders, toddies, nogs, mulled wines, and more
Sip hot chocolate through layers of hot espresso and thick, cold cream in this deconstructed mocha. It's based on the classic bicerin (beech-e-reen), from Caffè al Bicerin in Turin, Italy, and it fits right into our coffee-loving culture here in the western United States.
You won't find any eggs in this nog; it's rich with chocolate milk, rum, coffee-flavored liqueur, hazelnut-flavored liqueur, and cream.
Totally Decadent Hot Chocolate
There's no holding back here. Vanilla bean, orange peel, chopped chocolate, and the sauce of your choice (caramel, butterscotch, or fudge) make this a special winter treat.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Almonds and cinnamon make this chocolaty beverage yummy.
Brandied Hot Chocolate
On a chilly day, our grown-up version ― rich with bittersweet chocolate and punched up with French brandy ― will warm you to your toes.
Hot Spiced Cider
Try this kid-friendly beverage.
Sleepy Hollow Cider
This recipe is from the Luna Park restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where chefs add pumpkin- and vanilla bean-infused vodka to spiced cider.
Spiced Rum Cider
Steep warm spices in cider, then spike the drink with a generous dose of dark rum.
Thanksgiving Star Cider
This hot cider is made with honey and steeped with dried hibiscus blossoms.
You can make the cranberry-kir base up to 1 week ahead. Keep it on hand for quick refreshment; use just the amount you need and keep the rest chilled airtight.
Cranberry Ice Aperitif
For this festive aperitif, we use cranberry ice from Gerri Gilliland, owner of Lula in Los Angeles. Rather than using the ice in a drink, you can serve it plain as a palate refresher or as a light dessert.
Make at least 1 week ahead; flavor and color intensify with 3 to 4 weeks' storage.
For a nonalcoholic version, substitute sparkling water for the sparkling wine.
Crimson Spice Champagne Cocktail
Lemon-lime or club soda can be used in place of cognac and Champagne for a nonalcoholic version.
Hot Mojito Tea
The mojito ― a mint-laced rum cocktail ― might be the hottest drink in town these days, but it's served ice cold. We've turned the temperature on its ear for the holidays.
Taste the tea as it steeps, and remove leaves when the liquid tastes good to you, usually in 3 to 5 minutes ― after 5 minutes tannins get bitter.
"I was first introduced to tisane at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. I loved the bright flavors that fresh herbs gave to tea," says Sunset reader Rofina Wilenchik, who makes this herbal tea contribution.
Aromatic Ginger Tea
For iced tea, brew up to 1 day ahead, replacing the whole milk with water and substituting Darjeeling tea for the Assam.
Dress up the tea with cream and nuts, or serve it plain.
Falkland House Tea Blend
Milk and sugar smooth the bold character of this intense blend.
Hot Berry Lemon Toddy
Start with a slice of lemon, cloves, and raspberry-lemonade concentrate to make a single serving in the microwave.
FOR A CROWD
Mulled Cranberry Wine Punch
Replace red wine with apple juice and omit liqueur to make a nonalcoholic punch.
Mulled Pineapple Wine Punch
Pick a Muscat dessert wine for this warm beverage or use white grape juice instead.
Mulled White Wine
A lean white wine that hasn't been aged in oak works best for this drink. Add a few fresh lemon, orange, and kumquat slices for decoration as well, if you like.
Warming Reds for Winter Meals
Here are some delicious reds you might consider drinking one night soon.
Our infusions range from traditional caraway to updated saffron-orange.