Basically winter's sangria, this crowd pleaser laden with rich winter spice warms you from the inside out. I make mine in the Scandinavian style, with raisins, almonds, and a healthy pour of Aquavit.
If you've never tried Aquavit before, say hello to your new favorite winter spirit. It can be a tad bit tougher to find than your typical gin/vodka/whiskey, but it's gaining in popularity thanks in part to American makers like House Spirits, who distill their Krogstad Aquavit stateside (in Portland, OR).
A neutral spirit distilled from grain or potato and then flavored with a wide range of spices and botanicals, aquavit is a lot like gin -- it comes in a wide variety of dominant flavors, from caraway or anise to dill, fennel, coriander, and citrus. I use Krogstad in this recipe for its heavy anise flavor, which best suits my winter punch palate. Along with Linie, it also happens to be one of the easier-to-find brands over here.
The best ways to make and serve a mulled drink are, in my opinion, a slow cooker with VERY good temperature control and a trustworthy "low" setting, or a precision induction cooktop, which I used to make this batch. If your slow cooker (or a regular stovetop) runs too hot (and you'd be surprised at how many do), the alcohol will evaporate, making for a pretty lame punch. By using this portable induction cooktop, I was able to set the temperature precisely at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the boiling point of ethanol (pure alcohol).
I also love that you can use a normal (induction safe) pot, like this dutch oven from Lodge, and transport it to the table when ready to serve, or -- better yet -- move the whole cooktop to your holiday spread to keep it at the right temperature throughout the whole gathering. 140 degrees also happens to be a great serving temp for this beverage, so you can keep it at that level without having to re-heat. Just don't leave it sitting on too long, or the flavors will get overly intense. An hour or two is just fine.
Final pro tip: the raisins and almonds in the pot are basically wine-poached heaven and can be eaten with a spoon alongside your drink!
1 bottle wine
1.5 cups tawny port
1 cup Krogstad aquavit
½ cup raisins
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds
½ packed brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
20 allspice berries
1 small orange, sliced
1 tsp angostura bitters
(1) Combine all in a small slow cooker set on low, or in a pot over an induction cooktop set to 140 degrees. Once temp is reached (should be hot to the touch, but not too hot to drink), let mull for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.
TIP: You can leave the heat on while serving, for up to two additional hours.