Warming winter serves: avoiding the cold with cocktails

It's cold, it's grey, and it's wet. In short, it's that time of the year when people need a good warm hug - in a glass!

It is also the busiest time of year for those of us in hospitality. People are flocking to bars in droves, wearing Christmas jumpers and drinking like the boss is paying (which means they probably are). So, now is not the time to be making fiddly serves that take ages to prepare.

Which bring us to the question: how can you serve hot cocktails without turning your service into a hot mess?

We asked some seasoned hospitality professionals for their tips on making three of our favourite warm serves, without disrupting normal service. Let's have a look...

1) Tully XO Caribbean Coffee 


35ml Tully XO 

10ml demerara syrup

120ml espresso coffee 

Double cream (to top)

Mix the Tully XO and the sugar syrup together in a latte glass. Top with espresso and stir well. Whip the double cream until stiff, and pour carefully onto the top of the coffee mix.

Sam's tips for a speedy serve

The guys at Swift (currently at #41 on The World's Best Bars list) probably sell more Irish coffee than anyone else in London, making it their signature cocktail. So, we asked bartender Sam Ameye to tell us how they do it. 

"The Irish coffee at Swift was made to disprove the idea that Irish coffees take a long time to make," he says. "With the proper preparation, you can get production time down to about 30 seconds per drink - thank god, because we make a lot of them!"

"The trick to a good Irish coffee is, a) the dry-sweet balance, and b) the heat of the drink. The former is done by sweetening our coffee beforehand, so we can get it to a level that works for us. The latter is achieved with a sous-vide. We simply keep the coffee and glasses at a constant temperature to ensure a hot Irish coffee is served every time."

"Lastly, our cream is hand-whipped double cream that's kept chilled, already shipped. Nothing fancy here, just really good cream."

2) Hot Buttered Monkey



50ml Monkey Shoulder

2 pieces of fudge 

100ml hot water

Cinnamon stick

Pour the hot water into a rocks glass. Break up the fudge and melt in hot water, then add the Monkey Shoulder. Stir well with a cinnamon stick until all the fudge is dissolved, and serve.

Christina's tips for a speedy serve

Hot, buttered rum has always been my go-to when it comes to hot boozy drinks. Being a Scotch lover, this Hot Buttered Monkey sounds like a damn good idea to me!

  • Using fudge instead of butter and sugar saves you an ingredient
  • If the fudge takes too long to dissolve, prepare the fudge water in advance and heat it up with your espresso machine steamer or a microwave.

The fudge also gives you the opportunity to play with flavours by using different kinds of fudge (think caramel, vanilla, chocolate...)

3) Reyka's Arctic Screwdriver


30ml Reyka Icelandic Vodka

30ml English mead

3 clementines 

15ml gingerbread syrup 

50ml cold water

Cut the clementines and blowtorch the pulp until lightly charred. Squeeze the juice into a pan. Mix all ingredients together with the juice and heat gently. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick and star anise.

Fabiano's tips for a speedy serve

Being our showstopper, this one is a bit trickier to put together, so I asked the creator of the drink, Reyka brand ambassador Fabiano Alberto Pestana Latham, to tell us how he makes this work on a busy night. His solution is pretty savvy, and makes the Arctic Screwdriver easy as pie!

  • Pre-batch the entire cocktail
  • Heat up single serves using a milk frother

"It's unrealistic to put any hot serves other than mulled wine or cider in big soup kettles, since very few places have the space," Fabiano says. "So these are ideal for quick, consistent single hot-serves.

Avoiding the alcohol?

No problem - we've put together a list of our favourite no-ABV producers, perfect for those avoiding the alcohol. Read more here.

Born where the Rhine and Mosel meets, Christina is a proper wine and spirits geek, with a particular love of Riesling (perhaps unsurprisingly). While starting out as a professional horse trainer – and taking a detour while studying maths – she’s spent the last 18 years working in hospitality, running both bars and restaurants in Berlin, Paris and London, notably at Happiness Forgets and Som Saa.

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