This hot cocktail is soothing and comforting on a cold day

By The Culinary

Institute of America

After a snowy walk or long day on the slopes, there’s nothing like curling up under a warm blanket. Maybe you have a fire going and the dog asleep at your feet, with a good book just within reach.

But before you can relax, you need to warm up those cold hands and chilled bones. Before you settle in for your long winter’s nap, stir up this hot cider cocktail, featured at The Tavern at American Bounty at our campus in Hyde Park, New York.

Hot cocktails are inspired by the classic hot toddy, a curative mixture dating back centuries that includes whiskey, rum, or brandy with hot water, a sweetener, and sometimes some spicing.

However you like your hot toddy, it should be soothing and comforting on a cold day. In fact, hot toddies made with spirits, honey, and lemon juice are often used to ease the symptoms from our seasonal colds and coughs.

Our cider cocktail recipe begins with almond-flavored amaretto and hot apple cider. Bitters are added to help balance the sweetness from the cider (and the caramel sauce and whipped cream we’ll add later). Bitters are a blend of naturally sour or bitter botanical flavors — like orange peel or herbs. In cocktails, they add a concentrated dose of bitterness without diluting the primary flavors in the drink.

There are no rules when it comes to a hot cocktail, and this recipe can be reformulated to suit your mood or the contents of your liquor cabinet. In place of amaretto, you can use any of your favorite spirits, like whiskey or apple brandy. If you like infused spirits or syrups (a great make-at-home holiday gift), a hot cocktail is the perfect way to show them off. Cinnamon-infused bourbon or cardamom-infused simple syrup are great starts to making this recipe your own.

Hot cocktails are the perfect treat for a little bit of quiet time, but they are also an excellent make-ahead recipe when you are hosting winter parties. They can be mixed and kept warm in a crock pot or on the stovetop over a very low flame. Be sure to put some of the hot apple cider aside before adding the amaretto, for children and guests who choose not to partake. Garnish your party drinks with freshly made whipped cream, our caramel sauce, and a cinnamon stick for a particularly Instagram-worthy presentation.

HOT CIDER

COCKTAIL

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Makes one drink

2 ounces amaretto

6 ounces warm apple cider

1 dash bitters

Whipped Cream, as needed (recipe follows)

Caramel Sauce, as needed (recipe follows)

Combine amaretto, warm cider, and bitters in an Irish coffee mug or regular coffee mug. Top with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Prepare an ice bath. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Slowly cook to a golden brown without stirring, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and put the saucepan in the ice bath for 20 seconds to stop the cooking. Remove from the ice bath and stir in the butter.

Carefully stir in the hot cream, mixing until fully blended. To store the caramel sauce, transfer it to a clean bowl or jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Reheat the sauce over low heat or in the microwave before serving.

Whipped Cream

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chill a stainless-steel bowl and the beaters of a handheld mixer, the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, or a balloon whisk.

Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and whip on medium speed until thickened, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar while whipping. Add the vanilla extract and continue to whip until the cream has the desired peak according to its intended use. Soft peaks are good for dolloping cream, while firmer peaks are better if the cream is to be piped, used for topping, or folded into another mixture.

Note: If your cream starts to turn slightly yellow while you are whipping, it is close to being overwhipped and turning into butter. Fold in a small amount of unwhipped cream, if you have it, to rescue the texture.

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Nutrition information per serving of the cocktail without cream or caramel sauce: 310 calories; 0 calories from fat; 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 19 mg sodium; 56 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 19 g sugar; 0 g protein.