Keep the January blues away with a warm cocktail to sip after dinner. Here are some traditional favorites:
The basic recipe uses a bottle of hearty, inexpensive red wine, a couple of cinnamon sticks, some cloves and a cup of sugar. Warm the liquid enough to melt the sugar - without boiling - and serve in a cup with a cinnamon-stick or candy-cane garnish.
Variations: Peppercorns, bay leaves, cardamom, nutmeg, brown sugar, anise, rosemary, brandy, herbal tea, citrus slices are possible flavors.
This traditional sore-throat remedy is made by filling a tall glass or cup 3/4 full of hot tea, and adding a shot of scotch, a tablespoon of honey and a slice of lemon.
Variations: Use rum, brandy, bourbon. Add cloves, a cinnamon stick or a grind of nutmeg - even a dash of Angostura bitters.
This ski-slope favorite is basically a cup of hot cocoa spiked with a shot of rum, brandy or peppermint schnapps. Garnish with orange peel.
Hot, spiked cider
Simplicity itself: Warm a cup of cider or apple juice and drop a shot of rum into it.
Variations: Add orange juice, cranberry juice, cinnamon, cloves, orange slices.
Hot buttered rum
For the basic drink, put 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon butter and four whole cloves into a mug. Add a shot of rum, stir, and fill with boiling water.
Variations: Replace the butter with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Add brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg.
Fill a big cup 3/4 full of hot, black coffee. Stir in a tablespoon of sugar and a shot of Irish whiskey. Top with whipped cream.