I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather, or hot weather for that matter. I prefer crisp days or warm weeks. If it gets to the point where it’s just impossible to look cute in layers upon layers of clothing, or if I am fanning myself in sweat soaked clothing, well, I’m just not a happy camper. There are not many cures for days when the weather is extreme; if it’s hot, I simply sit as still as possible, helpless and miserable, in my own puddle of sweat. If it’s cold, I head to North 3rd for a glass of their mulled wine.
The memory takes me back two winters, to a bitterly cold (though not snow filled) evening. Joe and I had parked a mere two to three blocks away from North 3rd, located on 3rd and Brown in Northern Liberties. Aside from the fact that my hunger pangs were, as always, pretty vocal, the short walk to the restaurant was almost unbearable. We could barely carry a conversation through our chattering teeth and the uncontrollable, convulsion-causing chills that somehow managed to sneak their way through down feathered coats, mittens and scarves. When we were seated at the restaurant, it was frustrating how long it took for us to thaw out and get comfortable. Examining the menu, still wrapped like an Eskimo, I became fixated on the mulled wine listed as part of the cocktail menu. One sip melts the frost from your fingertips, and leaves you with a warm, happy feeling.
2.5 litres of red wine (I recommend a jug of Cabernet Sauvignon)
10 oz., blackberry brandy
¾ cup, raw sugar
Juice from one orange, plus peel
Add ingredients to a slow cooker, mixing well after each is added. Heat on high for one hour. Serve in mugs or wine glasses.
The above combination of ingredients created a hot cauldron of a spice-infused, fruity potion that’s an instant cure for chilly weather. Though the ingredients work well together, and happen to be my preference, another flavor of liqueur, the additional of a cinnamon stick or two, and another choice of fruit would also serve well as an antidote to Jack Frost’s influence on the next few months. The addition of the sugar decreases the alcoholic sting and makes the beverage appealing to those who insist they do not enjoy the taste of wine.
Though it may take a bit more time and a little more effort than bringing a bottle of wine or case of beer to your family party on Thanksgiving, mulled wine is a great addition to family holiday gatherings. It is an unexpected, but welcome, change to the typical bottle of red, and the heat from the first sip not only warms fingers and hands, but also fills your senses with the warmth of the holidays.