A steaming cup of coffee in the morning is enough to get you moving, and fit you with the bravery needed to face another day. A hot drink poured for you on a cold day, by someone who cares for you, can turn your day around. Soul warming, comfort creating… hot drinks are all of this and more. And who can ever say the words “après ski” without imagining hot chocolate?
Some hot drinks are ingrained in our daily routine, so much so we feel at loose ends when something interrupts us. What do you mean we’re out of coffee? No, I don’t drink decaf. I take my tea with lemon and honey, not milk and sugar! Are there any who haven’t had a day turned upside down simply because they missed out on their morning cuppa?
A buffet of choices:
There’s no shortage of ways to warm yourself should you decide hot is what you want. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, honey and lemon, hot toddy, hot buttered rum, Irish coffee, Bailey’s and coffee, apple cider, mulled wine, hazelnut hot chocolate, steamed milk (something that the baristas at a shop I used to frequent so charmingly called a “why bother?”). The list goes on and on, limited only by your imagination. Combine different flavours, different toppings, invent your own masterpiece.
Add your own twist:
Customize your favourite drinks with flavourings, garnishes or special pairings. Consider homemade marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, citrus slices, cocoa chili blend powder, whipped cream, or fancy things up with delectable chocolate spoons. Don’t forget that many hot drink recipes are family friendly unless alcohol is included, so make lots and share it around! Don’t be afraid to split a recipe and keep half alcohol-free for kids and non-imbibers in the crowd.
Latte art has been around a while, but I still smile if someone takes the time to form a heart in the foam atop my latte. We’re seeing parties and cool weather weddings with hot drink bars set up with drinks, toppings, garnishes. What a great way to keep guests warm and create a conversation at the same time! Another way to shake up your warming drinks is to tweak old favourites with an updated flavour. Think pear cider instead of apple, maple instead of caramel syrup, etc. Or make it in a crock pot for serving a crowd, or to have family sized portions warm for after sledding or snow clearing duty. When it comes to equipment, of course everyone has a favourite brewer or French press, or a favourite type of kettle. But also look for thermal mugs, or more special double walled glass mugs that allow you to hold hot drinks without burning your hands. Another way to add some style is to find a sleeve just right for your mug – don’t think cardboard, think wool, felt, or fleece. Look into options for frothing milk or whipping cream, add a small grater for grating chocolate or spices and you’re ready to go.
So where do your cravings take you when you want a cup full of something hot? Maybe you like something more traditional, something more predictable. Or perhaps it’s the toppings that do you in. Maybe it’s the splash of something with a bit of kick that makes it a treat. What? It’s cold outside! Of all the creations we found, the most decadent title had to be shared by Coffee Infused Drinking Chocolate Decadent Winter Treat and Red Velvet Hot Chocolate with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream. Excuse us while we swoon.
Remember that coffee and tea can be a nice way to wind up a dinner party, or to serve with dessert. Keep things simple if you have a sweet or rich dessert on the menu, or skip dessert entirely and just load up the coffee with sweet goodness and additions. If you can’t decide, the next time you throw a dinner party, it’s time to learn a little Italian. Why not serve your guests something memorable like an affogato? It’s a delicious combination of creamy vanilla ice cream and the perfect espresso. Brew the espresso, and simply pour it over the ice cream in an elegant dish. Serve immediately, and enjoy a simple, stylish treat.
What’s the hot drink you can never refuse? Have you ever created your own flavour combination? Share your favourites below!