The crock-pot is one of the most versatile and useful kitchen appliances. You can use it to make anything from pulled pork to goulash to cheesecake. And as one bartender has discovered, it’s also the perfect tool for making hot cocktails for a crowd.
“I love making hot drinks but hate having to constantly reheat them,” says Kristi Green, bartender at Osteria Morini DC. So when she hosts a cozy winter party, she puts together a warming cocktail, sets the crock-pot on low and walks away. When the party starts, the cocktail is ready and Green doesn’t have to do anything except ladle.
Here, she shares three of her favorite crock-pot cocktails. (Green uses a 12-quart crock-pot to make these drinks.)
Classic Mulled Wine
Green mixes red wine with vodka (four parts wine to one part vodka) then adds brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice to taste. She recommends Sangiovese for its fruit-forward cherry notes, but Green also opts for Cabernet Franc sometimes if she wants a drier punch. The vodka helps keep the alcohol content up, as some alcohol will cook off as the drink simmers.
Jack & Eve’s Hot Ale
Yes, hot beer. Conceived by Green one winter night after a few whiskeys, the hot ale punch is made with 10 bottles of hoppy pale ale, a bottle of Laird’s 100 proof apple brandy, plus fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters and sugar to taste. Before guests arrive, she floats star anise and apple slices on top. “It feels like cider but with the taste of beer,” Green says.
For her simple cider, Green mixes a jug of cider with a bottle of brandy and baking spices like cinnamon, star anise, whole cloves, allspice and nutmeg. If you want, you can make the cider without the booze and simply add the spirit to mugs of cider to order. But Green warns that the flavors won’t be as well integrated that way.