Recipe: Winter Cocktails


A long time ago, on an island not far away, I worked as a barman for a luxury hotel.  This was before I became a chef.  Dublin was an amazing place to learn the bar trade, particularly cocktails. One of my contemporaries, Peter O'Connor, became a consultant on the hit US show, Bar Rescue.

Throughout the depths of winter, people requested warming drinks rather than alcohol, and we felt we were losing money as a result.  So we developed our own warm cocktail menu.  Here are a few for you to try at home or for parties.

For glassware I only recommend thick glass mugs, wine glasses break too easily.

Hot Whiskey

An old Irish classic.  You need:

  • One shot of Irish whiskey, I like Jamesons, Peter always preferred Bushmills
  • One wedge of lemon
  • Three cloves
  • Honey or brown sugar
  • Piping hot water

Add one measure of whiskey to the glass mug (that's 35.5 ml, not 25.  You are drinking the Irish way now!) Add the sugar or honey and stir to a paste.  Top up with hot water.  Push three cloves into the zest of the lemon wedge and place into the drink.  And serve.  It will clear up any cold.

Note:  If you are not a whiskey fan, try it with port instead.

Irish Coffee

A classic drink, invented by Joe Sheriden, who was, coincidentally, an airport chef at Foynes flying boat base.

  • One shot of Whiskey
  • Black coffee, preferably expresso
  • Sugar
  • Double cream

A lovely drink, but so easy to get wrong.  The secret is to only use fresh cream of a certain thickness.  Start by adding one shot of whiskey and sugar to the bottom.  Stir, and add coffee until the mug is two thirds full.  Now the clever bit.  Take a cool, clean teaspoon and place the tip against the inside of the glass just above the coffee  Make sure the hollow of the spoon is facing upwards.  Now slowly and carefully add the cream to the spoon.  Allow it to 'pool up' in the spoon and then over flow into the coffee gently.  This way it should float.  Decorate with a little shaved chocolate or coffee beans. 

Hot Orange

Here is a simple one:

  • One shot of Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • Hot water
  • Slice of Orange
  • Cloves and Sugar

Add one measure of Cointreau to a glass mug, one teaspoon of white sugar, and hot water.  Stir well.  Add one full slice; or wheel, as us bar types like to call it.  Press four cloves in a cross shape into the zest of the orange.  Drop it into the drink and serve.

Irish Milk Punch

Now here is a family favourite.  It is good for getting the kids to sleep on Christmas Eve, I am told.

For one person, you need a sauce pan and the following:

  • 200 ml full fat milk
  • 50 ml Baileys
  • 20 ml Irish Whiskey
  • One teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Cinnamon and grated nutmeg

Heat the milk slowly in a pan, until it is simmering.  Add the Baileys and Whiskey.  Stir, and add the brown sugar.  Pour it carefully into a glass mug.  Add a cinnamon stick to stir and grate  a little nutmeg on top, and serve.  It is always a favourite with the ladies. [Is this true? - the Ed]

Hot Grog

An old dark rum drink back from the days of Sir John Mills standing on the bridge of a destroyer in the arctic winter.

  • One measure of dark rum, or I prefer Captain Morgan's spiced
  • Hot water and sugar
  • Juice of half a lime.
  • Two pieces of lime quarters
  • One small piece of ginger

But, my best, and by far most popular drink was always Mulled Wine, made to my own specifications which you can find here.

By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.