Whether you are thinking of gathering all your close family and friends around for a seasonal shindig or inviting the neighbours round to say thank you for feeding the cat, having your work mates over because you can't throw a party in the office or scooping up your girl friends for a couple of hours of 'me time' away from busy family life – there’s never a reason too small to mull some drinks at this time of year.
There is something extra special about warm cocktails. The heat brings out the aroma in an almost therapeutic way, that makes all your senses tingle and fills your house with 'Christmas' smells and the warmth of the drink invites you to cradle it in your hands whilst the conversation flows.
Hot-tails somehow encourage people to stand just that little bit closer together, as if their warmth needs to be shared and they are like receiving a little gift when presented stylishly.
Why not bake mini gingerbread men to stick to the side of the glass, cut stars into apple slices to float on the surface or simply tie a ribbon to the handle and add a stripy red straw to give your drink added glamour?
As we know, all the best parties happen in the kitchen! This can be especially true when you have a large pan with a gently steaming beverage on the hob, ready for everyone to gather round and share. Serve with some scrumptious canapés or add a casual sharing plank into the mix and you have the perfect, relaxed and festive party atmosphere in which to spend the evening.
If the idea of throwing a festive drinks party in the busy run up to Christmas is something you long to be able to do but simply don't think you have the time to organise, why not hand it over to us and let The Pop-Up Dining Room do it for you.
Our Ninja CanapéService is perfect for this time of year. It allows you to come home from work, get changed and have a drink yourself as we set it all up and vanish before your guests arrive, leaving you to be the hostess with the mostess in the eyes of your guests! To discuss your dates, ideas and requirements email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 07774 252 319.
In the meantime have a look at our Pinterest boards for a variety of Hot Cocktail Ideas. We've sniffed out all the best recipes and fun finishing touches to give your cocktails that added wow factor.
Here are three of our favourite recipes...
The Best ever Mulled Wine (yes it really is.)
200 g caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
1 vanilla pod
2 star anise
2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
Peel large sections of peel from the clementines, lemon and lime using a speed-peeler.
Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice.
Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I’m doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.
When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve.
Spiced cinnamon bourbon hot toddy
Simple Spiced maple syrup
240ml maple syrup (or other sweetener of choice, such as cane sugar or honey if not vegan)
1 dried red chili pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flake 2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 lemon, juiced
3-4 Tbsp spiced maple simple syrup
2 ounces (4 Tbsp) bourbon (rye or traditional) Hot water to fill
Lemon wedge + cinnamon stick for garnish
Add maple syrup, water, cinnamon sticks, chili, and red pepper flakes to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes - 1 hour (or longer). Strain and pour into a glass jar for serving.
To make a single toddy, add the juice of half a lemon, 3-4 Tbsp Chili Cinnamon Maple Simple Syrup, 2 ounces bourbon, and hot water to top (use less water for a stronger drink, more water for a weaker drink).
Garnish with another cinnamon stick and lemon slice or wedge and serve. The longer it steeps the stronger the cinnamon, lemon flavor becomes.
Repeat for more drinks or make a large batch to serve a crowd by simply multiplying ingredients by number of drinks you need.
Alcohol free Spiced Apple Cocktail Ingredients
2 litres Apple Juice (from concentrate)
2 cinnamon sticks, plus 8 to garnish
8 wide strips orange zest, pith removed
2 knobs stem ginger in syrup, sliced
tbsp of the syrup
Large pinch ground allspice
Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and place over a high heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, turn the heat down to low and leave for 20 minutes for the spices to infuse. Strain the punch and use a ladle to pour into 8 heatproof cups or mugs. Serve, garnished with cinnamon sticks.