Although winter isn’t officially here yet, the biting winds and snowfall are inspiring many of us to order hot lattes, apple cider, and cocoa instead of frozen drinks at our favorite cafes. All over the northern hemisphere, folks are wrapping chilled fingers around warm mugs to sip at the deliciousness therein. Whether you’re aiming to be morebudget-friendly or would just rather make your own drinks at home, you can whip up some fabulous, delicious vegan sip-ables with just a few ingredients, a saucepan, and a stove top.
This is one of the most cherished seasonal drinks of all: it pairs the sweet earthiness of ripe apples with warming spices, and warms you from nose to toes.
- 8 cups (2 quarts) apple cider
- 2-4 cinnamon sticks
- 2-4 whole dried cloves
- 2 whole allspice berries (optional)
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 orange or apple, sliced thinly horizontally (optional)
- Brown sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup to taste (optional)
Mix all ingredients except for the sweetener in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to a simmer on your stove, grill, wood stove, or campfire coals. Keep at a simmer for 3-5 minutes so the flavors have a chance to develop, then ladle into individual cups and serve hot. If desired, have the aforementioned sweeteners available so each person can adjust the level to their personal taste.
Tip: you can make many of the drinks featured here on a wood stove or open campfire, so if you’re heating your home or you have a campfire going at some event, just use a cast iron (or other fire-safe) vessel to brew them in.
- 2 cups non-dairy milk of choice (almond-hazelnut milk is incredible for this)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (fair trade + organic is best)
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar (or equivalent sweetener of your choice)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Vegan whipped topping of your choice (optional)
- Vegan marshmallows (optional, but so awesome)
Heat the non-dairy milk in a saucepan on medium-high heat until it starts to simmer. Turn heat down to low, add the cocoa, sugar, and vanilla extract, and use a whisk to combine them all evenly. Ladle into cups, and if desired, top with a pile of vegan marshmallows and whipped topping, and a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon.
Tip: you can make this more of a Mexican-style hot cocoa by reducing the sweetener and adding a bit of cayenne pepper or chili powder.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan at all, you may have drooled all over yourself when you saw the big tankards of “butter beer” that were served in Hogsmeade. Although this drink can be served both hot and cold, the warm version is a total delight on a chilly autumn day, especially if you grate some cinnamon on it.
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or other favorite vegan butter substitute)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- A pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups of your choice: apple cider, ginger ale, ginger beer, almond or soy milk, cream soda, root beer, or dark beer.
Heat the 4 cups of liquid in a saucepan on medium heat until it’s warmed through. In another saucepan, whisk the Earth Balance, sugar, and coconut cream together until it’s all melted, and then add the pinch of salt. Stir thoroughly, and then use a spatula to spoon this syrup into the warmed liquid, stirring gently until it’s all combined. Ladle into large tankards, mugs, or latte bowls, and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg—whipped coconut cream too, if you’re a fan of it.
I recommend experimenting with the base liquids to see which flavor combinations you like best. My personal favorite is warmed almond milk with a shot of hazelnut liqueur, but there are countless options available for both boozy and non-alcoholic versions.
Spicy and sweet, homemade chai is the perfect cold weather warmer. This is also great to sip in the bath after a long day!
- 1 or 2 cardamom pods, cracked
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 a cinnamon stick
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon loose black tea leaves
- 3 cups non-dairy milk
- 1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar or agave syrup (adjust to taste)
Place the spices in a small saucepan and warm gently on low heat until they begin to release their scent. Add the non-dairy milk and tea leaves, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for another 5. Add your sweetener, stir it well, strain it into cups, and serve hot.
Tip: You can also make a quicker version of this by just steeping the tea and spices in hot water inside a French press, and adding a bit of coconut cream or other thick vegan creamer to each cup after serving.
This isn’t so much a “recipe” as a serving suggestion for a lovely cup of tea: add a teaspoon or so of agave or maple syrup to the bottom of your favorite mug. Make a pot of tea, and once it’s steeped to your liking, pour that into the pre-sweetened mug, followed by a squirt or two of lemon juice and a shot of brandy, whiskey, or rum. Drink while hot, repeat as desired.
If you like, you can serve your hot toddy with a slice of lemon and some cinnamon or star anise, as those make for a lovely presentation.
Spiced Wine (Wassail!)
The process of making mulled wine is very similar to mulled cider, but the key difference comes down to the wine that you choose. For a traditional wassail bowl, aim for a dry red wine and a full-bodied brandy. This is a perfect punch for Thanksgiving, Halloween, or any number of winter holidays.
- 4 small apples
- 1 cup of cane sugar (you can use maple or agave syrup instead, if desired
- 1 medium orange
- 10 whole cloves
- 8 – 10 cups dry red wine
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2 an inch of fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 whole allspice berries
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you core your apples—don’t peel them. Fill each apple cavity with a teaspoon or so of sugar or syrup, and then place the apples on a baking sheet. Stud the orange with the cloves, place that on the baking sheet too, and bake all the fruit for 30-40 minutes.
While the apples and orange bake, pour your wine and brandy into a heavy stock pot and warm over low heat. Once it’s warmed a bit, use a whisk to blend in the nutmeg, but do not allow the liquid to come to a boil. Place the allspice, ginger, and cinnamon in a strainer bag (or even a tea ball) and float that in the wine as it warms. Let this steep for about 20 minutes, then pour it into a punch bowl, float the apples and orange in it, and stir it around so all the flavors can combine. Give your guests mugs and a ladle to play with and let the good times roll.
This is one of the best drinks you can sip at when you’re not feeling well: it’ll soothe a sore throat and alleviate chest congestion, and just makes you feel better all around.
- 1/2 an inch of fresh lemon per cup, grated finely
- 1 bag of black tea per 2 cups being served
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice per cup
- Maple syrup or agave nectar to taste (honey is great as well, for those who consume it)
Place the tea bags and ginger in a large teapot, then boil a kettle’s worth of water and add that to the pot. Wrap the teapot in a cozy (or even just a nice, thick bath towel) and let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes. Pour through a strainer into large, heavy mugs, then add the lemon juice and sweetener and drink while hot.
- 8 cups apple cider
- 6 cups cranberry juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (or other sweetener, optional
- 2 cinnamon sticks, plus extra for garnish
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 lemon, sliced thinly
- Whole cranberries for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over med-high heat until it starts to simmer. Turn heat down to low and allow to warm for 5-8 minutes. Ladle through a strainer into individual cups, and serve hot with a cinnamon stick and a few cranberries in each mug.
Also known as an “Earl Grey Latte”, this drink is a creamy cup of deliciousness to enjoy on a rainy Saturday morning. Just steep one or two teabags of Earl Grey (depending on how strong you want yours) in half a mug of hot water, and then top the mug up with the heated non-dairy milk of your choice. Vanilla makes the bergamot really stand out, so if you’re not using a vanilla-flavored milk, you can add a few drops of extract. Sweeten with sugar or agave, and enjoy.
You can also steep the tea of your choice directly in hot non-dairy milk for a richer, creamier drink.
Have you ever poured instant soup mix into a cup, added water, and then wished you hadn’t? Sure, those are cheap and quick drink-meals that can tide you over for a little while, but they’re usually loaded with preservatives and taste… less than stellar. You can make your own cup of soup with just a spoonful of miso paste and some heated water.
You don’t even need a real recipe for this one—just grab your favorite miso paste from a Japanese food shop or health food store, and drop a teaspoon of the paste into a mug. Add just a tiny bit of boiled water, and use your spoon or a fork to stir the paste/water mixture until it’s the consistency of cream. Fill the rest of the mug with water, and taste it. If you feel that it needs more flavor, add a bit more miso paste. Should you happen to have additives like shredded nori, chopped scallions, or cubes of tofu available, feel free to pop those into your mug as well, but the plain miso is just lovely on its own. You can even make a thermos of it to take to work or school, and it’ll give you a great energy boost if you drink it in lieu of coffee as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Lead image via Shutterstock
I found some great vegan wines at Trader Joes. It's called "Terrenal", I tasted the Cabernet and Tempranillo which were very good and I know they also have Chardonnay. All in very affordable prices!