Though this week's weather may suggest otherwise, the time for winter warmers is upon us. After a few sips of these seasonal spirits, you'll be too tipsy to notice Jack Frost creeping up.
WHAT IS IT? Before beer, before wine, there was mead: the first fermented beverage on earth. Made from fermented honey, water and yeast, mead can be served cold or hot. Hot versions are usually spiced, giving it a sweeter flavor. Different tastes are obtained due to the type of honey used (dandelion, sunflower, black locust) and the mulling spices added to the base.
WHO'S DRINKING IT? Beowulf-reading fans of the Bristol Renaissance Faire, role players and Viking enthusiasts.
WHAT IT BRINGS TO THE PARTY: An old--and we mean old--school street cred.
WHERE TO SIP IT: Bev Art Brewer and Winemaker Supply provides Clark Street Ale House with its housemade mead, which is also available at Binny's and Sam's locations. Clark Street spices it up in a crock pot and serves it hot or cold for $6 a glass December through February.
WHAT IS IT? Essentially, a mixed drink served--you guessed it--hot. The basic ingredients include a liquor, a sweetener and a hot liquid, often water. Common varieties involve whisky and honey or sugar.
WHO'S DRINKING IT? Mature intellectual types: Think velvet smoking jackets and artsy, rectangular reading glasses. Oh, and individuals suffering from sore throats and other cold and flu symptoms.
WHAT IT BRINGS TO THE PARTY: An air of sophistication and the ability to warm you up in more ways than one.
WHERE TO SIP IT: Swing by the Eleven City Diner, for a new menu of hot toddies and nightcaps available throughout winter. Each costs $6.25 and comes in a footed glass coffee mug. The hot toddy is made with whisky, honey, Drambuie and hot water; the Hot Gin Toddy is a classic recipe of a bit of gin, lemon juice, two cubes of sugar and hot water.
WHAT IS IT? Uber-creamy, milk-based beverage made with eggs, sugar and a spirit, often rum. Spices such as nutmeg and cinammon can be added for a kick. Occasionally, cream is used to create a thicker mixture.
WHO'S DRINKING IT? Retro hepcats, the mod squad and smooth operators; certainly not the lactose intolerant.
WHAT IT BRINGS TO THE PARTY: Why, the spirit of the Christmas season, natch. Everyone will feel jolly if you spike it the right way.
WHERE TO SIP IT: At Brownstone Tavern & Grill, simple nog gets dressed up in the Captain's Eggnog martini: Captain Morgan Rum, Goldschlager, amaretto and eggnog served up ($10). Not sure you can commit to a whole cup of creaminess? Hit the RedEye Holiday Party on Dec. 7 and sample eggnog shots, available only during the festivities.
WHAT IS IT? A traditional Scandinavian beverage of red port wine cooked with raisins, stick cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds, orange peel, almonds, a bit of sugar and brandy.
WHO'S DRINKING IT? Lovers of ABBA, IKEA, Pippi Longstocking and all other things Nordic.
WHAT IT BRINGS TO THE PARTY: Old-world charm and a name that's hard to forget and fun to say.
WHERE TO SIP IT: Andersonville institution Simon's Tavern, stirs up great bubbling batches of the stuff from Thanksgiving Eve until temperatures begin to rise. ("If it's cold out in March, I'm still going to make glogg," says owner Scott Martin, who follows his father's recipe for the glogg he serves at the 72-year-old bar.) A four-ounce demitasse, garnished with plump glogg-soaked raisins and fresh slivered almonds, goes for $4.
WHAT IS IT? Not to be confused with hot cocoa, made from powder, this decadent drink with origins in the Americas is made with milk or cream, sugar and melted chocolate.
WHO'S DRINKING IT? Grown-up kids, just in from making snow angels in the corporate parking lot.
WHAT IT BRINGS TO THE PARTY: A refreshing air of innocence--until someone spikes it.
WHERE TO SIP IT: Head to the Greenhouse at the Ritz-Carlton, for the Raspberry Truffle Hot Chocolate, an adult version of this childhood fave made from heavy cream and Valrhona Pur Caraibe chocolate, and flavored with Chambord and Dark Godiva Liqueur ($14).