DURING these dark and frosty nights a winter cocktail is a powerful home remedy to soften the chill and distract you from the plummeting mercury.
Polishing the punch bowl and perfecting your mixologist skills is a wonderful way to bring a glow to the cheeks and fire-up the bleakest evening.
For wintry gatherings, go for gold with this delicious concoction using one of the best premium rums around, Ron Zacapa Centenario Rum Sistema Solera 23 (£51.01, 70cl, from Guatemala.
ZACAPA CLOUD 23 (serves 10)
250ml Zacapa 23, 1.5 litres quality ginger beer, 500ml pressed apple juice, apple slices and lemon wedge to garnish.
Pour all the ingredients into a pan and warm gently over a medium heat. To serve, ladle into a sturdy glass or a latte cup and wait for a warming tickle as it travels south.
A hot toddy offers a delicious alternative to mulled wine, so try serving one with a twist. The blend of Ron Barcelo Gran Anejo aged rum (£19.45, 70cl, Harvey Nichols) and the Bitter Truth Pimento Dram liqueur (£20.72, 50cl, is in tune with the trend for strong, sweet, sour and bitter cocktails.
40ml Ron Barcelo Gran Anejo, 10ml Pimento Dram, 4-5 dashes orange bitters, 10ml sugar syrup (dissolve 1 cup sugar in 2 cups water), hot Darjeeling tea.
Pour rum, Pimento, bitters and syrup into a tea cup or glass and stir. Top with Darjeeling tea. Add orange peel, grate nutmeg on top, and sip slowly.
You’ll need rum aplenty for this classic hot drink that has stood the test of time. But it won’t hang around long in good company - so if you want a taste you better be quick. For the best hot buttered rum, use Appleton Estate V/X Jamaican rum (£17.99, 70cl, major supermarkets) .
HOT BUTTERED RUM
50ml Appleton Estate V/X, 75ml boiling water, 1tbsp brown sugar, vanilla extract, small slice of butter, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, cinnamon stick and orange peel.
Place the butter, sugar and spices in a mug or coffee glass. Pour in rum and muddle together. Pour in boiling water. Stir and garnish with orange peel and a cinnamon stick.
GINGER APPLE BRANDY
50ml Three Barrels XO, 75ml apple juice, ginger beer, shot of lime juice.
Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the brandy, apple juice and lime, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled highball glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a slice of freshly cut apple.
Let’s raise a toast to these warming flavours and a feelgood February... it’s winking at us from around the corner!
With so many cocktail recipes promoting ginger mixers, why not reach for the best and try Fever Tree Premium Ginger Beer (£1.65, 500ml, Sainsbury’s), a sofi gold medal winner. Warm and spicy as it trickles down the throat, it’ll enhance the taste of your favourite rum or whisky. Also it works wonders for the tastebuds in a Vodka American.