The best cocktails have the unique ability to cheer people up, bring them together and wash away the stress of the day. During winter, the best cocktails have one more helpful attribute: They’re hot.
Warm drinks like the Hot Toddy (spirit, sugar and hot water) and Mulled Wine (red wine with various mulling spices) reduce the cold-weather chill one toasty sip at a time. The same applies to the Francophile, a Mulled Wine variation from Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, the group behind a fleet of bars in New York and Los Angeles, including Death & Co. It features the French brandy Calvados, plus Rioja wine, cinnamon simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and water.
Calvados gives the drink a rich backbone of apple and oak that merges seamlessly with the red Spanish wine and its hallmark notes of dark berries, plums and herbs. If you can’t find Rioja, aim for a medium-to-full-bodied wine with plenty of tannins and some acidity to stay on track. Avoid anything too light, as it will get lost in the drink.
Cinnamon syrup, which can be quickly made at home with sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks, acts as your sweetener, and lemon juice provides a hint of citrus and balance. Those four strong flavors are tempered with water, which adds necessary dilution and lengthens the drink.
Combine the ingredients in a pot and heat it all on the stove for a few minutes, and you have a cocktail that will warm you to the bone. Scale up the ingredients if you need to serve a crowd, using a larger pot, or try slow-cooking the contents in a crock pot as you prep for a gathering. Make regular batches each year when the weather turns cold, and you may start looking forward to winter.
- 1 1/2 ounces Rioja wine
- 1 ounce Calvados
- 3 ounces water
- 1/2 ounce cinnamon simple syrup
- 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: apple slice
- Garnish: cinnamon stick
Add the wine, Calvados, water, cinnamon simple syrup and lemon juice to a small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat until hot.
Pour into a thick-walled mug and garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick.