Mulled wine is a simple drink, often comprised of red wine, spices and citrus — perfect for the winter months. It's also a great way to make use of those pesky spare bottles of red laying around the house that no one seems to want to drink or finish, likely for good reason. Finding the typical recipe a bit monotonous, however, it seemed there was room to incorporate yet another treasure of European culture in this drink, absinthe.
Proving that this drink can indeed be highbrow, start by securing a bottle of Lillet Rouge, the French aperitif made from a red Bourdeaux wine and an array of spices, citrus and pine blended in. Using a large pot, heat the entire contents of the bottle on low, so as not to burn off the alcohol. Add in several sticks of cinnamon and a bit of allspice, if desired, and once the Lillet has steeped for about 10 minutes, add in 6 ounces of Cognac and 1 ounce verte absinthe or more depending on how much you enjoy anise. I use a top quality absinthe: Delaware Phoenix's "Meadow of Love" from New York, which is a bit more floral and far less cloying than if you used a more cost-effective Pastis. Stir for several minutes, remove from heat, and once cooled, rebottle with a funnel into the Lillet bottle, straining out the cinnamon sticks, so they do not make the drink bitter.
Though it's tempting to serve this drink warm, I prefer it chilled as a lighter, brighter pre-dinner kick. Store the rebottled mixture in the refrigerator for up to a month and simply pour into a rocks glass over ice on demand, adding a short cinnamon garnish. Feel free to experiment with additional ingredients, such as an orange twist, fresh ginger, other spices and even liqueurs in low doses, as this forgiving drink can go in many directions.
Brian Quinn re-joins Food Republic to contribute Cocktails of the Week every Thursday at 4 pm Eastern. He is also Director of Programming for Social Media Week NY and co-founder of The Noble Rot, an underground supperclub dubbed “a new form of clandestine drinking.” He learned the art of craft cocktails from working with the Milk & Honey family and regularly produces food and wine events. Brian lives and works in New York City. Connect with him via Twitter.
- 4 ounces Lillet Rouge
- 1 ounce Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac
- 1/4 ounce Delaware Phoenix Meadow of Love Absinthe
- cinnamon stick
- allspice, for mulling
- Mull and strain. Pour over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
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