When we think of gin, we tend to think of a cool gin and tonic filled with clinking ice or a chilled martini. If you're limiting your gin intake to cool drinks, however, you've been missing out. Although gin may not as commonly be included in warm drinks as whiskey or cider, there are still plenty of hot gin concoctions to take the chill off a winter evening.
Hot Gin Punch
This Victorian classic is best-known from its appearance as the festive drink of choice in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Exact recipes vary, but most call for equal amounts of gin and Madeira. Other ingredients include sugar, honey, cloves, cinnamon, fruit juice, citrus peel, pineapple and a pinch of nutmeg. Simmer the ingredients over a medium heat for 30 minutes, then serve warm.
For a less traditional version of this winter warmer, leave out the fruit juice, pineapple and Madeira. Instead, boil the sugar, spices and citrus peel together with crushed juniper berries to form a syrup, then pour it into cups already containing cold gin. The resulting steam will give off a heady, wintry juniper aroma.
Mulled Gin Drinks
The holiday season means mulled wine -- but why should wine get all the attention? Adding sloe gin to mulled wine or hard cider gives it a touch of sweetness as well as a more potent kick. Add the gin to your mulled mixture only once you're ready to serve it; it shouldn't be on the heat any longer than needed to warm it.
Be sure not to overpower the mulled wine or cider with sloe gin; a ratio of about 1 part sloe gin to 5 parts cider, or 2 parts sloe gin to 15 parts wine, should be plenty. For a stronger gin presence, leave out the cider and mix equal parts sloe gin, water and apple juice.
A hot toddy is not only a warming drink but also a traditional remedy for colds and sore throats. Although whiskey is the most common ingredient in a toddy, there are also gin-based variants. Toddy recipes vary, but the essential ingredients are gin, hot water, lemon juice and a sweetener such as sugar or honey. Additions like cardamom pods or tea leaves introduce more interesting flavors to a drink that can otherwise taste a little medicinal.
Heating the Standards
Sometimes, a hot gin drink is just a cool gin drink that's been heated up. This is the case -- or at least partly the case -- with variations like the warm gin and tonic or hot gin sling. A hot gin sling is basically a gin sling -- gin, sugar and water -- without the traditional ice cube. Instead, the bartender dissolves the sugar in boiling water, adds the gin and more hot water, then serves the resulting mixture in a warm glass with a pinch of nutmeg.
A hot gin and tonic is a little more of a departure from the traditional recipe -- to create this Swedish variation on the classic, you'll need not only gin and tonic water but juniper berries, sugar syrup and cream. Heat the tonic until it goes completely flat; meanwhile, heat the juniper berries and cream together, then strain out the berries. Shake the gin, syrup and cream together to create a foam that will float atop the tonic water in the glass.