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Drinks: Gluhwien, Possets and Wunder Warmers

Thea Euryphaessa wanders from market to tepee and then up in world

Written by . Published on December 15th 2008.


Drinks: Gluhwien, Possets and Wunder Warmers

The sharp green scent of Christmas trees, the woody musk of an open fire, the spectre-like trail of myrrh incense weaving its way through the home. When I look back over holidays past, it’s often smells that evoke my fondest memories.

Perhaps my most cherished memory is the mulled wine that regularly suffused the house with its warming aroma of cinnamon, spices and cloves. I could often be found loitering in the kitchen, burying my nose in the pan when I thought no-one was looking, inhaling until my cheeks blushed with intoxication.

Mulled wine is a drink that longs to be cosseted by the hands. And if the hands are cold, so much the better. I find few things as life-affirming as cocooning myself in several layers, before heading out into the bracing winter chill with a steaming mug of mulled wine and settling back for an evening of star-gazing. It doesn’t take long before the spirit of this drink seeps through the body, warming the toes and imbuing the imagination with the extra stretch required to trace the elusive outlines of Orion, Perseus and Hercules as they parade through the heavens.

Keen to rekindle memories of holidays past I spent the weekend amidst the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Markets, sampling an assortment of hot winter drinks. I felt like the ball on a pinball board game, as I was mercilessly ricocheted from one person to another in my attempt to reach the bar. My first drink was a mug of Glühwein, with an added shot of rum for good measure. My friend now familiar with my cocktailing exploits watched closely as I took my first sip. As my brow began to furrow, he wasted no time warning me not to complain.

“What do you expect?”

“Did you ask for rum?”

“Yes, I saw her pour it in.”

“Here, taste this then.”

“That stuff’s lethal” he finally rasped, after a protracted, pained expression.

It hit the spot and immediately set about thawing my insides. Several sips later, engrossed in conversation and wrapped in the community of revellers gathered in Lincoln Square, all criticism dissipated. (£4.00)

Leaving behind the knot of warmth we’d found huddled between bodies, we headed for The North Pole behind Urbis. The Chocolate Wunder Warmer, a mix of hot chocolate, vanilla and caramel with any choice of spirit, for only £3.50, winked at me from the menu board. I opted for a shot of cognac. On tasting, a grin broke across my face.

“Oh, you like that one eh?” my companion laughed.

If my smile persisted, the rest of me was fast in danger of vanishing into thin air like the Cheshire Cat. A cheeky little number, I triumphantly declared cognac and hot chocolate a match made in heaven.

Having received word of The Modern’s winter menu, we decided to head indoors to see which spirits of Christmas past were haunting their bar.

I sampled the Sack Posset (£7.50), described on the menu as the oldest drink you’ll ever taste. Dating back to the 1500s, this is a creamy, sustaining glass of sherry, spices, Innis & Gunn ale, cream sugar and egg, served warm. It’s reminiscent of eggnog, but far less sickly and dangerously moreish. I don’t know what alchemy they’ve meddled with to resurrect this drink, but I suddenly found myself transported to York, before my companion telepathically announced that he thought it tasted like Jorvik Viking Centre. A delicious after-dinner digestif.

My favourite however, was the Port Wine Sangaree (£8). The luscious combination of Cognac, red wine, port, orgeat, orange, lemon, triple sec, sugar and water served hot in a wine glass, which found my cheeks flushing from inhalation alone. Upon tasting, memories of holidays past flooded.

A friend once remarked that every season has its beauty and opportunities with which it’s inextricably linked. Slipping back out into the cold night, my companion and I agreed that savouring a hot alcoholic tipple with friends, under a gaze of constellations provides a magical, wintry opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

John BoothDecember 15th 2008.

Being very old fashioned and possibly mean, but how much would it cost to go to be seated in comfortable surroundings like Jemini,or the Lime tree and have a really great meal and brandy to finish.

AvoDecember 15th 2008.

I am in total agreement with you there Emma.

Sapce InvaderDecember 15th 2008.

"I felt like the ball on a pinball board game"Otherwise known as a pinball? ;)

AnonymousDecember 15th 2008.

£8 for a drink?! Hmmm...

EmmaDecember 15th 2008.

John, do you not get the point Thea's trying to make? You can go for a meal anytime of the year, but this is probably the best time of the year for shooting stars and I can't think of anything better than watching them a hot toddy.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2008.

I love the wunder warmers, we need more cocktails like that!

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