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!