Confining Hot Drinks to Winter is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Hot Drinks Recipe | Ginger Rum Toddy | The Flounce


IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED that any civilized person en-route to bed must be in want of a cosy hot drink. I don’t know who started that frightful though admittedly logical idea that hot drinks should be confined to the winter months, but in my kitchen they are sustenance like gentle rain all-year round. Nevertheless, I am grabbing probably the last few weeks– days?– of cool weather to write this.

Italians are strange, let me tell you. Today I was cavorting about with my bare, newly-brown arms, and beside me were Italians impenetrably zipped inside their Columbia® jackets. This has been happening since October — to set a little context, Florence is a slice of valley — with almost tropical weather in a Mediterranean country in the south of Europe, so I’m not really sniggering disproportionately when I say that Florentines dress like overkill is in fashion. Late-December to early-February is rubbish weather though. I can’t argue with that.

Another Italian custom that initially bemused me but which I now accept with the grace that all foreigners living in this purposefully insane land must develop is the strict practice of only taking cappuccino before 10 a.m. or only with a late breakfast after. Venture beyond the bars (Italy’s cafés) in the center that cater to tourists and your order of that milky beverage would invite a look at the very least, if not a pregnant pause. Italians don’t pause for coffee; espresso time is a ten-second gravity-embracing swoop of God’s aromatic gift to man that happens at least four times a day. They’re not big fans of tea either and Italian hot chocolate is more pudding than cocoa; the only thing they seem to nurse with enthusiasm are glasses of wine — a practice I cannot besmirch without risking the most ardent hypocrisy.

But to quote that saucy mistress of the microphone, Dolly Parton: “There is a season. Turn! Turn! Turn!” Okay, to be honest I don’t know how that’s really relevant except that I wanted to make some sort of statement on how there’s a time for wine and there’s a time for steaming, velvety soupçons (or soup bowls, depending on your preferences) of comfort. No other liquid mixture has that same emotional heft of care and comfort and sweet, sweet love. Although give me a month, ten more degrees and sun rays beating down like Scott Summer’s laser rays, and I’ll be singing lemonade’s praises like the proverbial canary.

Hey, if you wanted objectiveness, turn on the science channel. The boyfriend’s poison of choice is camomile tea (he’s a real devil, that one!) but if you’re more inclined to beverages that lull you to a dozy, happy state and yet, mysteriously and wondrously, are not virtual snoozefests, here are six more interesting offerings:


Peppery Soy Masala Chai

Za’atar Thyme-Oregano Tea

Cinnamon-Orange Hot Chocolate

Chili-Ice Cream Hot Chocolate

Ginger Rum Toddy

Glühwein (Mulled Wine) with Cider


Hot Drinks Recipe | Soy Masala Chai | The Flounce

Peppery Soy Masala Chai

 Don’t die of horror. There’s something about the soy milk and honey that play nicely with the spiciness of the pepper, and make this drink a slightly nutty, moreish alternative to the traditional chai. Use this mix, or if you have something store-bought that you love, that’s fine too. Also, I recommend a cheap black tea- something like Lipton, that you wouldn’t drink alone, but is strong enough to not fade against the spices nor so individual that it’ll distract from them either.


3 tbsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp cardamom powder

7.5 tbsp ginger powder

9 tbsp fine black pepper

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp clove powder


As with any other spice mix, the better the quality of the ingredients, the better the flavor. Mix the spices and store in an air-tight container in a cool and dry place. This makes many many mugs of tea, so feel free to reduce the recipe proportionately as you like. It also makes for nice gifts in small glass jars with hand-written recipes.


(Makes one mug)

1 mug-full of soy milk, filled to the brim

1- 1¼  tsp of black tea

⅛-¼ tsp of chai mix

Honey, to taste

Fresh black pepper, to taste

Pour the soy milk into a saucepan with the black tea and chai mix. Place over a medium flame, and heat till small bubbles appear. Stir in the spices thoroughly, leave to steep for a few minutes (crucial!). Strain into your mug and then add honey and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.


Hot Drink Recipes | Za'atar Thyme-Oregano Tea | The FlounceZa’atar Thyme-Oregano Tea

Za’atar is a bit of an inside joke with me and my friends. Through consistent advertising and prescription by R, a dear Omani friend, it’s taken on somewhat mythic properties. Period cramps? Za’atar’s good for that. A cough and sore throat? Take za’atar. You want to stimulate your intelligence and achieve your full potential in life? Za’atar’s just the thing! Za’atar is Arabic for thyme and also refers to a spice mix that might include oregano, marjoram sumac berries, sesame or sea salt. Used to flavor everything from fresh bread and meats to salad dressing, za’atar also makes a fragrant herbal tea, and is in fact excellent for digestive issues, stomach pains and various other ailments due to its anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-septic, and anti-microbial properties. The saint, Abbess Hildegaard von Bingen, even refers to thyme as

“a medicine for leprosy, paralysis and nervous complaints. He who drinks a cup of Thyme tea instead of coffee in the morning will soon feel the beneficial effect: enlivened spirits, great comfort in the stomach, no coughing in the morning and an overall well-being.”

So there you have it– drink this tea. As a recipe though, this is a bit of a cop-out. Sorry.


(Makes one serving)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

Honey, to taste


Mix with boiling water, let steep for 7-10 minutes, strain and flavor with honey.


 Chili-Ice Cream Hot Chocolate | Hot Drink Recipes | The Flounce

 Chili-Ice Cream Hot Chocolate

 An absolutely gorgeous recipe. The chili gives it vroom, and this impresses everyone. If you let the ice cream melt for just two seconds and thus gain yourself several addictive mouthfuls where the interplay of warm, velvety cocoa, wobbly smidgens of ice cream just barely clinging to solidity and a drizzle of their cold cream offspring send tingles to your toes and brain … well, you can then send me a thank you email at


 (Makes one regular mug)

35 grams 70% chocolate. Again, as superlative in quality as possible.

1 cup whole fat milk

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼  tsp ground cinnamon

Tiny pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream

Chili powder

Sugar, to taste (I usually use very little to none because the ice cream already lends sweetness when stirred in)


Warm the milk in a saucepan over a medium-low flame. Stir in the chocolate and continue to stir until the chocolate has melted. Whisk in the vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Continue to heat, all the while stirring very gently until the hot chocolate reaches a lovely, velvety consistency. It should taste smooth on your tongue. Add vanilla ice cream on top, as generously as you like, and sprinkle a pinch of chili powder over that. Serve immediately.



Hot Drink Recipes | Orange Cinnamon Hot Chocolate | The Flounce

Cinnamon-Orange Hot Chocolate

 No list of hot drinks is complete without some hot chocolate and because I have issues with competition, I have two (also because they’re bloody delicious).


(Makes one regular mug)

35 grams 70% chocolate, as superlative in quality as you can manage

¾  cup whole fat milk

¼  cup water

1 cinnamon stick or ⅓-½  tsp ground cinnamon

One large strip of orange peel

Sugar, to taste


Heat the water, milk and orange peel in a saucepan over a low flame. Stir in the chocolate. When it has melted, add the cinnamon and whisk until the hot chocolate is frothy. Add sugar to taste. Serve garnished with chocolate shavings or whipped cream.


Hot Drinks Recipe | Ginger Rum Toddy | The Flounce

Ginger Rum Toddy

 We have reached the adult portion of our evening, ladies and gents. It’s soothing, it’s alcoholic, it’s self -medicating beverages at its finest (if you ignore the whole liquor will rot your liver idea anyway). And it’s pretty damn tasty too. This is based off the traditional hot toddy recipe, which can comprise a variety of liquors and mixers depending on region, though generally includes water or tea and lemon.


 (Makes one toddy)

 One strip of lemon peel

Two thick pieces of ginger, peeled

Tiny pinch of nutmeg

1 shot dark rum

Brewed black tea, enough to fill your glass

1½ tsp fresh lemon juice

Honey, to taste


Crush your ginger with the side of your knife to release the full flavor. In a saucepan over a low flame, combine the tea, lemon peel, ginger and nutmeg. Let simmer for ten minutes, or up to twenty depending how strongly ginger-flavored you’d like your toddy. Pour the rum into the glass then pour over hot tea mixture. Stir in the lemon juice and honey to taste. Arrange the accoutrements from the pan in a suitably charming manner and serve.


Hot Drink Recipes | Glühwein (Mulled Wine) Cider | The Flounce

 Glühwein (Mulled Wine) with Cider

 If there is any drink made for cold weather and the festive season, this is it. There is a Christmas market here in the second half of December and there are few things more pleasant than a stroll around it on a quiet and ever so slightly brisk winter morning. The pale mid-morning winter light, the muted chatter of the few who visit in the day, the puffs of air that accompany you blowing over the cider — it’s a memory worthy of reliving throughout the year with this inspired variation.


(Makes 5 mugs)

 1 750-ml bottle of a full-bodied red wine

4 cups apple cider

2 cinnamon sticks

Zest and juice of 2 medium clementines

4 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

3 star anise

Honey, to taste


Combine the wine, cider, honey, spices and clementine zest and juice in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Turn the flame down low and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. I like to leave it over a very low flame and let it mull peacefully for a while to let the spices really infuse and mingle with the liquids. This is beautiful.

And that’s it! Go forth, my charming friends, and brew, simmer and stew your way to a delightful evening. Let me know your favorite drink in the comments, if you share my preoccupation with heated libations and what other culinary whatchamacallits or liquid concoctions you’d like to read about!


Images by Elizabeth Liew


Elizabeth Liew
Everything worth knowing about her is in the words already. The rest are just the details. She was born in Singapore, lives and studies fashion design in Florence, Italy and dabbles in art and food. She writes for women and to celebrate women- our stories, our achievements, our passions, our diversity, our beauty, our bodies, and the freedom to be our truest selves. If you want to know anything else, please ask! And come be twitter buds @elizabethliewxe (or just click the icon above, duh) and elizabethliewxe on pinterest.
  • AlexisO

    I bookmarked this to try these drinks! I love learning about food and drink in other cultures!

    • lizliew

      Find the perfect lazy, languid night, get cosy and let me know how you find them!

  • Duni Arnold

    Ahhh! Thanks, Liz. This post is very valuable to me and relevant to my interests.

    • lizliew

      In hot drinks? Haha