We’re entering that long, dark stretch of winter here in Eastern Canada where we just want it to END but we know there’s at least another three months of it waiting for us. So we come up with ways to keep ourselves from getting suicidal. In Ottawa we have our Winterlude festival, in which we pretend that we actually LOVE winter for the benefit of the tourists. And after we’ve spent all day freezing our toes off while traversing the world’s longest skating rink, we appreciate a hot beverage or two to help us thaw out. So here are two ideas for you.
HOT DR. PEPPER
Don’t freak out — this isn’t one of those newfangled sugar drinks that “kids these days” are coming up with to get themselves all wired up. The recipe for this odd potation comes from the 1960s, when the makers of Dr. Pepper came up with it as a way to keep their sales strong in the winter months when a cold soda pop wasn’t as appealing. I’m not even kidding.
So first you want to slice up a lemon. Really thin. You’ll need one slice for every serving. Stick a slice in the bottom of a heatproof mug.
I used Navy tankards, complete with glass bottoms to prevent someone from slipping you the King’s shilling.
Then take your Dr. Pepper (if you can get it in your country), and pour it into a saucepan. I used 3 355mL/12oz cans of the stuff because Trav was over and we were all curious.
Heat it to precisely 180°F. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the stuff losing its carbonation. It’ll fizz as the carbon dioxide escapes, so that will keep you entertained.
Pour your hot Dr. Pepper over the lemon slice and add a shot of rum if you want to turn it into the adult version of the beverage (I personally think that it’s a little too sweet without the rum). Enjoy!
HOT APPLE CIDER
While I’m not a fan of apple juice, I will always go for a refill of apple cider. And not just in the fall — any time of year. Obviously there are a million ways to make hot spiced apple cider, but this one is what I felt like making today.
In a medium sized saucepan, plop in 4 thin slices of lemon, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar (you could also use maple syrup, or leave out the sugar altogether).
Pour in 4 cups fresh unsweetened apple cider and 1 tablespoon vanilla.
Whisking occasionally, bring that to a boil and let it foam up for a minute or two before removing from the heat and serving.
Garnish it with a slice of apple and your cinnamon sticks. This amount serves two generously with room for a small refill, or four if you’re not as greedy as I am.
If you’d like to make a grown-up version of this with alcohol, a nice dark rum, bourbon, brandy, or cognac would work well. I’ll leave it to you to decide how much will work for you to keep away the chill.