You say “winter warmer,” I think “hot toddy.” I should probably think “hot whiskey sling,” if I’m not mistaken, since I favor them with lemon juice, but “toddy” is the term I’m accustomed to using and bedad if winter warmers aren’t about personal comfort. I’ll call it a sling this once, though, since other people are watching; I recommend executing it thusly:
Remove your shoes and don slippers. If it’s the right time of day, consider pajamas and a robe, too. Take your most favorite mug — chipped and coffee-stained though it may be, it’s the faithful friend that’s seen you through many a nerve-jangling morning — and fill it with water. Fill a measuring cup of similar capacity and microwave it, along with your mug, until the water boils. Empty your now-heated mug and pour a 2-ounceish slug of whiskey into the bottom. If it’s a bonded whiskey, so much the better. Swirl your trusty honey dipper around in its pot until you’ve worked up a nice, thick ball of honey, stick it in the mug, and pour in the scalding hot water, swizzling until the honey is dissolved. Finally squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top of it all, give a final stir or two, and breathe deeply.
Terribly imprecise, I know, but this one’s a drink to feel your way around. Did I say microwave? I did, and unapologetically. Feel free to put the kettle on for a more satisfying auditory experience, but it’ll just take longer. How sweet should it be? Depends on how you like your coffee or tea. How much booze should it contain? Depends on whether you’re fighting off a cold or just the cold (less, if the former). What kind of booze should it contain? Whiskey, certainly, if you’re going to call it a hot whiskey sling, but you can use whatever base spirit you like. I wouldn’t do gin myself, but there are those who do. How much water? I’d hope you’re drinking out of a thick-walled large-capacity ceramic mug — the kind you can wrap both hands around — and not one of those wee 8 oz. affairs or a poncy glass job, but everyone has their own thing. Go with it, and fill it with as much water as seems right. Personally I like to leave a decent collar to allow easy insertion of a snoot to inhale the fumes. Properly speaking, there should be a dash or two of Angostura bitters on top of it all, but this is one drink that I leave ’em out of. You’ll do what seems right.
I could cite a few official recipes here, but what’s the point of that? You’d likely just adjust the ratios to suit your choice of vessel, alcohol, mood, whathaveyou. I don’t think it’s possible to make a bad hot whiskey sling, unless you make it weak and watery. Avoid that cardinal transgression and you’re home free. Ms. Thirsty complains that hers are never as satisfying as the ones I make her, but I suspect that’s less about execution and more down to the final instruction for a really good winter warmer: have someone else serve it to you. You’re too busy being cold and wanting warming to be shuffling about in the kitchen or bar.
Look for more precise, well-reasoned Winter Warmers from this Mixology Monday to be catalogued shortly at Imbibe Unfiltered, the electronic arm of our liver’s favorite organ.
Update: All told there were 22 entries this month. Read ’em and mix.