It seems as if only last month I was wiping my brow and seeking liquid shade in the form of a frosty weissbier. My taste buds must feel the changing winds, as they, too, crave a warmer touch for colder days. A higher heft of alcohol and darker kilned malts are oft’ enough to elicit cozier thoughts, despite the drink’s cooler nature. Though scotch ales, doppelbocks, and barleywines have long sufficed for a chilly-eve’s dram, I’ve been enticed toward a more direct route to stoking the coals within – Cockle Warming Beer Cocktails.
I can just imagine our forefathers and mothers, clenching their coats with one hand and their wintertime tipple with the other, smiling through the iciest of nights. I suppose an extra slosh of whiskey in the glass by the fireside was the best medicine for keeping Jack Frost at bay. I’d like to claim I’m just as tough as my winter-braving great great great great grandma, but modern conveniences have made me a soft, cold-intolerant baby. Boozy libations have been keeping our ancestors warm throughout the frigid months long before central heating was a house standard. Now, with both alcohol AND a heated house, I shall conquer the winter days with moderately less complaining!!!
The following recipes have probably been twisted and bent to meet the purposes of whoever was making them at the time. So in the true American fashion of claiming things that aren’t ours as our own and feigning legit ownership, here are some beer cocktails I made.
Mulled Ale is everything you want it to be. This catchall beer cocktail has so many variations it’s impossible to not land on one you like (so long as you’re willing to try). Spice it up as much as you desire: ginger, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, you name it. Dump in whatever you want, but just a pinch! This isn’t the cinnamon challenge. Our goal is building flavor and complexity! Add some brown sugar, honey, fruit bits, cream, or even AN EGG. Yeah, I said it. My last attempt at putting egg in a beer cocktail was a sorry waste of beer. But a new cocktail is a new opportunity to try to not miserably fail! I’m not so sure I nailed it this time, but I at least hit the nail somewhere near the head, perhaps a bit sideways, but hit it nonetheless. Be bold. Try the egg thing.
- Go to your beer store of choice and pick up something festive (I prefer darker ales). Jubelale from Deschutes works quite well.
- Get out a saucepan and glug your beer into it. Turn the heat on so that the beer will slowly reach a gentle simmer.
- While your beer is getting cozy on the stove, start sprinkling in your spice arsenal. Hold the dairy for later.
- Still waiting for the simmer? Good. This is the perfect time to pull an egg from the fridge and scramble it in a separate bowl. No, you don’t HAVE to add an egg. You’ll just possibly be missing out on life.
- This is the egg tempering step. If you’re not down with the egg, then carry on. If you’re still with me and you’ve never tempered an egg before, it’s like, so easy. Add the hot spiced beer to the egg bowl very slowly, whisking well as you go. You’ll probably make a mess. It’s ok. The goal is to slowly raise the temperature of the egg without making scrambled eggs. We want a homogeneous mixture, not scrambled eggs floating in beer. Once you’re about half way mixed, go ahead and add the egg bowl contents back to the saucepan and keep stirring.
- Once you’ve achieved a simmer and satisfied your spice tooth, fill your favorite glass or mug near to the brim. Top it off with cream or a dusting of raw sugar. Definitely float a little cognac as the final touch (non negotiable).
Anything and everything you’d want in a warm alcoholic beverage
More specifically… spices, sugar that isn’t white, winter seasonal ale, an egg (!), cream, favorite liquor(s)
If for some reason you can’t get into the whole hot beer thing, this might be more your style. The Crambambull is essentially beernog. Some digging on the interwebs revealed the Crambambull to be a sort of rum punch popular among German college folk in the 1800s. I would assume the recipe was bastardized as it found its way across the Atlantic, turning into a mixture of eggs, cream, sugar, spices, hard booze and strong ale. No matter the history, the result is likely all the same – intoxication and jubilation!
- You’ve got a few options when it comes to your cocktail composition. If you just so happen to have some eggnog stashed in the back of the fridge as I do, then you’re many steps closer to sipping on some homemade Crambambull! No nog? Go make some Eggnog For Your Noggin, or pick up a carton of non-alcoholic stuff from the store (don’t worry, I won’t judge). As for the beer, aim for a winter warmer or dark holiday ale. I chose Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale.
- If you made boozy nog, you won’t need any extra liquor (but don’t let me deter you from doing you). If you’ve got non-alcoholic nog, you’ll want to save some room in that party glass for a healthy splash or two of your favorite spirit(s).
- Got the nog and liquor sorted? Good. Here’s the most important part: mix the nog, beer, and liquor to taste and volume. This is not the time to be willy-nilly with your ratios of the three. The end goal is to have a glass of something you actually want to drink! Start with a smaller volume, especially if your nog is strong and has grown viscous from a year of aging. Top up, mix with a spoon, and taste often for the best chance at wanting seconds.
- Still not festive enough? Plop a nice cap of homemade nutmeg whipped cream on top! Now go find a nice chair by your television fireplace and get cozy.
Hot damn! If you want your house to smell amazing, just put an orange studded with whole cloves in a warm oven. While you’re at it, use the orange to make the Bishop! If you research this cocktail, you’ll likely find the version popularized by Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol called the Smoking Bishop. Port and/or red wine are the typical base alcohols for the Smoking Bishop, but this version fronts beer as its foundation. This very simple and eggless nightcap might have you pushing back bedtime for seconds.
- Acquire an orange and stab a few whole cloves into its side. Pop it in the oven for about a half hour at 250° F. You just want to warm the orange and help infuse some of the clove essence into the flesh.
- Right before you remove the orange, start warming up your strong ale in a saucepan. I used Fisher Brewing Feast Beer. Keep the heat nice and low, never reaching more than a simmer. Remove the cloves and cut up the orange into a few slices. Add them to the saucepan.
- Add raw sugar to taste, and stir as the mixture warms. The raw sugar I used was from Trader Joes, and it literally smells like port wine (how appropriate).
- Once you reach a simmer, turn off the heat and find a strainer. This will help keep the pulpy bits and seeds out of your mug.
- Carefully pour the liquid through the strainer into your mug. You should have enough volume for two mugs, so pour one for a friend or keep some in the saucepan for later.
- You’re not done yet! Knife off a healthy pad of butter and plunk it right into your mug. It’s actually quite divine, so don’t feel guilty.
If your cockles aren’t warm by now, you probably just need to make another beer cocktail and grab an extra blanket. Throw a jazzy record on the turntable and make sure the volume is up on your TV so you can hear the fireplace crackle and pop. An extra nip of whiskey doesn’t hurt either. 😉
Stay Warm, Friends!