Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Drinks (hypocras & apple pie cordial)

Here are two drink recipes that are easy, delicious and great for holiday parties.

Hypocras is a sweetened spiced wine that was traditionally used as a medicine. It is thought to be named for the Greek physician Hippocrates. Regardless of it's origins or medicinal value, it is a great beverage to serve today. 

Traditional hypocras is made with red wine. However in the interest of breaking free of the mold I like to make a hypocras with white wine, also called a clary (although a clary was normally sweetened with honey, but I digress.) 

Hypocras (Hippocras)
1 4L jug of Carlo Rossi Rhine Wine 
1 and 1/2 cups of white sugar
3 Cinnamon sticks, cracked in half
10 black peppercorns cracked
1 Nutmeg, cracked in half
6 cloves
2 oz fresh ginger root, chopped into small chunks

2-3 cardimom pods, just cracked, or
10 grains of paradise

Remove roughly 12 oz of wine from bottle to allow for sugar and spices. (My prefered method of doing this is to pour it in a glass and drink it! That also gives you the chance to taste it before you doctor it up. )Add all spices, in order above, cap bottle, and shake vigorously to mix, until sugar is no longer seen in the bottom of the jug. Let this steep for at least 24 hours. When ready strain spices through fine strainer or coffee filter and drink. This is good chilled or warm, but best at room temperature in my opinion.

I know I know, Carlo Rossi wine? Seriously? Yep. It's my suggestion. You can use higher end wines if you like, but I haven't seen that they add enough flavor through the spices to justify the much higher cost.

The Rhine wine starts of sweet with a slight hint of apples for before finishing dry. This was about the 3rd white wine I tried when I was seeking a white to make hippocras from. I felt with the apple and sweetness it was a perfect match. The sugar and spices round out the total mouthfeel and contribute to the Rhine’s apple flavor. The end result is a beverage that tastes more like a 9% abv hard apple cider to me than a wine.


This takes a bit more time, but is really worth it, and it makes your house smell great! Here is the recipe

2 gallons organic apple juice
2 cups brown sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 750ml bottle of vodka

Place the apple juice in large pot, and place on medium heat. Stir in sugar and spices. Bring to a boil. Boil until volume is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Mix with vodka and stir well. Place in a container and let age for 1 week for the flavors to blend and mellow. This will get better with age.

Let me know what you think!

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