When the nights are long and the air has a bit of a chill (or is downright freezing) you can shove yourself under as many layers as you like—but nothing warms you up like a hot drink, especially if it has a kick.
Sure, adult beverages don’t actually heat you up, and if you’re camping anywhere cold, you must dress appropriately and properly protect yourself from the elements. That’s a given.
Yes, the heat of a steaming mug keeps fingers toasty, and the not-quite-burn of a gulp of something fresh from the fireside provides an internal coziness, but what I’m talking about is a metaphoric warming. A warming of the heart and soul. A warming of your own goodwill toward your fellow campers.
These drinks are best enjoyed when the sun is down, breath is visible, conversation flows in a comfortable buzz little louder than the crackle of the fire, and a sleeping bag beckons. Warning: The duration of your blinks will increase. Yawns will multiply. These are not party-starting libations.
Hot Buttered Rum
This is a dark, dark drink, with a strong aroma and a rich, almost nutty flavor. One glance at the drops of melted butter floating on the surface, coupled with a whiff of the no-nonsense rum, and you’ll believe that a shot of this could physically beat away the encroaching chill on a wintery evening—like it could literally reach up out of your mug and smack any frost forming nearby in the face. If frost had a face.
4 oz. high quality salted butter (we used Kerrygold Irish butter)
1/2 cup spiced drink mix
2 cups water
4 oz. dark rum
Combine butter, drink mix, and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Pour one ounce of rum into a mug. Repeat three more times, for four mugs total. Then divide the butter/spice/water mixture evenly between the mugs. Stir.
There will not be a lot of the drink in your cup, but that’s OK, because it’s powerful. This is not a thirst-quencher for gulping down.
Like the hot buttered run, this drink is dark, but it’s a different sort of dark—less of a night sky, and more of a deep, polished, and ancient hardwood. It’s also packed with a variety of flavors that don’t compete, but work together to create a balanced whole. As with any recipe that calls for a little of this and a little of that, you should tweak the ingredient list to fit your personal preferences or make best use of what you have on hand. Before tossing out any of the spices listed here, though, consider that:
• While cardamom may have first grown in India, it eventually made its way north and west with the Vikings to become a favorite in Scandinavia—where people are familiar with long nights and cold weather.
• Cloves will likely trigger warm memories of holidays past, since they frequently find their way into gingerbread and pumpkin pie.
• The anise in this drink adds a very distinct aroma and flavor, but seeing little stars floating in my mug may be my favorite thing about it the recipe.
1/2 bottle fruity red wine
4 to 5 whole cardamom pods
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
1 centimeter piece of long pepper
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 sliced orange (with peel)
1/2 sliced apple
1 sliced plum
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a very low simmer for 20 minutes. Pour into as many mugs as necessary or desired. Allow the various bits and pieces to flow in, as they will discourage you from drinking this too fast—even once it’s cooled enough. Plus, you can eat the apple, orange, and plum chunks.