Scenes from the Christmases of The Men From The Hornet #2: Our dipsomaniac drinks expert, The Barfly…
Barfly here. Pay attention. Christmas tales, is it? Well on Christmas Day 1987 I woke up in this cathouse in Belgrade with a vicious…
(The Man From The Hornet interjects) Dear Horneteers, given that we wish to keep a stylish and respectable blog here at The Hornet, I have deemed it necessary to censor The Barfly‘s sordid and frankly disturbing reminiscences of Christmas Days past. Trust me. You don’t want to know. Let’s cut straight to the drinks recipe while I have a lie down to try and shake some of those images from my head…
(Barfly resumes) …and she could even make it whistle When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano. She was quite a gal. Anyway, the mulled wine…
Aaaah… Christmas at Barfly Mansion. Roast nuts chesting on an open fire and all that. And, of course, Mulled Wine. Mulled Wine stretches back into the history of this great land when in mediaeval timeszzzzzzzzzzzzz(wake me up for the Queen’s Speech, will you?)zzzzzzzzzzz.
Before we get all Simon Schama, here, let’s cut to the chase. The verb to mull is of unknown 17th Century origin and means to heat – wine or beer – with added sugar, spices, etc. And this is how I do it. This recipe is, like all the best Mulled Wines, a rough guide and can adjusted according to taste. It serves 12, so do your own math (as our American cousins say) for your own party.
My secret ingredient is water – in exact matching quantities to the wine. Sacrilege? Not at all. As you peruse the ingredients you will see my cunning method of tipping the balance back to the fun side with the addition of a few liqueurs…
You will need…
2 x bottles red wine
2 x wine bottles full of water
1 orange stuck with cloves
2 oranges, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
6 heaped tablespoons granulated sugar or honey
2 inch (5 cm) piece cinnamon stick
2 level teaspoons finely grated fresh root ginger or ground ginger
1 shot cherry brandy
1 shot apricot brandy
2 shots Triple Sec or Cointreau
Heat the lot in a big ol’ pot. The house will smell delicious.
Barfly’s Mulled Wine Tips:
• Don’t raid the cellar for the wine. Any inexpensive wine will do, but make sure it’s full bodied. A big, chewy Cabernet Sauvignon is ideal.
• Don’t boil the wine. Not ever.
• Hey kids, it’s burny hot. If you don’t have those glasses with the metal holders, put a teaspoon in the glass as the spoon will have a higher coefficient than the glass and then the glass won’t shatter when you pour and nobody’ll end up in casualty, capito? Alternatively, there is no etiquette to suggest it shouldn’t be dolled out in big, warming mugs.
• Some folks like to garnish their Mulled Wine with candy canes. The Barfly is not “some folks”.
• Some recipes suggest baking the cloved oranges, adding fruit syrups (huh?) and all manner of shennaigans. I use the above recipe because it’s not only the best, but also the least fussy. Then there’s more time to party. Simple, really.