Hot mug of sachlav with spice Hot mug of sachlav with spice A hot mug of sachlav, garnished with a powdering of spice. (Photo: Robyn Lee / Flickr)

Warming winter drinks around the world

Spice it up with this variety of delicious hot beverages, whether you're looking for a boost of energy, a warming cocktail or a relaxing nighttime sip.

When it's cold outside, sometimes the only thing to do is cozy up with a mug full of warm bliss. While we love a good upside-down coffee or healthy green tea, we're all about trying new things. Especially when it comes to drinks.

As it turns out, a good hot drink is pretty much everyone's favorite, and each corner of the world has its own unique take. So grab your mug and get scrolling through these delicious winter beverages:


Xocolatl

Xocolatl hot chocolateXocolatl, or Aztec chocolate, is spiced with chili pepper. (Photo: Julie Metkalova/Shutterstock)

Dubbed the "original hot chocolate," this rich drink of the Aztecs continues to thrill palates to this day. Xocolatl literally means "bitter drink" in the ancient language of the Aztecs, Nahautl. It's a healthy hot chocolate, by no means sugary, spiced with chili peppers for a fascinating flavor.

If you have cocoa powder and a chili pepper on hand, try out this basic recipe from Melting Mug. For a sweeter spin on this hot chocolate classic, check out our spicy hot cocoa recipe from Israeli Kitchen.


Grog

GrogSimilar to a Hot Toddy, Grog uses a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar. (Photo: Dita Margarita/Flickr)

A simple combination of hot water, citrus juice, cinnamon, sugar and rum leads to a surprisingly satisfying hot alcoholic beverage. It's been around for hundreds of years, to the point where the word "grog" has come to mean anything alcoholic in Australia, and any mixed drink in Sweden.

Grog is simple to make and takes well to any impromptu modifications – in the Caribbean, adding grapefruit juice, orange juice, pineapple juice and a dash of honey makes for a sweet and healthy dose of vitamin C! Get the traditional grog recipe here.


Sachlav

A cup of sachlav surrounded by spices.A cup of sachlav surrounded by spices. (Photo: Iakov Vokhimintsev/Flickr)

Whatever you call it – sachlav, salep, saloop – this is a creamy drink unlike any other. The main ingredient? An orchid. An especially popular pick-me-up in Israel, it's reminiscent of hot chocolate here in the U.S. While the early purple orchid tubers are not easy to get these days, a simple substitution with cornstarch and a dash of shredded coconut does wonders.

You can make the more common cornstarch version yourself with this recipe, which also calls for milk, sugar, vanilla, rosewater or orange blossom water, shredded coconut, toasted nuts and ground cinnamon.


Bicerin

Glass mug of Bicerin with whipped toppingBicerin topped with a thick whipped cream. (Photo: Rubber Slippers In Italy/Shutterstock)

If you can't decide between hot chocolate and espresso, you're in luck. This Italian drink layers espresso with hot cocoa and whole milk in a small glass (which is actually what the word "Bicerin" means in the dialect of its region of origin). It's neither shaken nor stirred – simply poured layer by irresistible layer. This BBC Good Food recipe uses cream for an even richer drink.


Glühwein

A glass mug of GlühweinA glass mug of Glühwein. (Photo: alexpro9500/Shutterstock)

Mulled wine, German style. Red wine is heated with cinnamon, cloves, anise seed, citrus and sweetened with sugar. For the truly celebratory, a shot of rum is added. The word "Glühwein" literally means "glow wine" and it's easy to see why – sweet, spicy and warming, it's an easy go-to winter night recipe. Perfect your Glühwein with this recipe from Chow.


Matcha

Mug of matchaA warm mug of bright green matcha. (Photo: Kirinohana/Flickr)

This bright green concoction may seem other-worldly, but it's actually the natural product of finely ground green tea. In fact, matcha is a popular natural dye for sweets in Japan. Though rarely seen in modern America, this form of green tea has its origins in Ancient China (the Tang Dynasty to be exact, as early as the 7th century C.E.) as an efficient way to pack and ship tea across the country.

To prepare matcha, first run it through a mesh sifter and add water while whisking gently – traditionally, a bamboo whisk called a "chasen" is used. It's bitter and concentrated, so adding a sweetener is recommended.


Anijsmelk

Glasses of anisemelkTwo glasses of Anijsmelk, garnished with the main ingredient: anise. (Photo: Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock)

The pretty little star-shaped spice called anise gets its very own creamy beverage in the form of the Dutch Anijsmelk. Anise is known to calm the stomach and the nerves, so it's the perfect hot drink to end the night on.

It's a fairly simple recipe to make from scratch: milk, aniseed and the sweetener of your choice. You can also buy a premixed version to which you only need to add warm milk for an even faster night cap.


Mulled Cider

Glass of warm mulled ciderA crystal glass of warm mulled cider. (Photo: aya padrón/Shutterstock)

Heating cider and adding spices now seems quintessential to our fall and winter routines, but the drink has an interesting history. In 11th-century southern England, where cider apple orchards reigned, there was a ceremony called Wassailing, where people would gather and drink mulled cider in a ritual to guarantee a successful harvest for the next season. Called wassail, literally "be you healthy," this early cider featured mead and apples and over time became the mulled cider we love today: one with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

So while the cold wind's blowing, take comfort knowing you can find happiness in a warm glass.

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