Updated: May 11, 2019
Sometimes it all comes down to the beverage. It can be the lifeblood of a gathering, what loosens people up, what gets them singing those songs like The Rains of Castamere (or whatever songs they may sing in the North).
This was a bit difficult. We are coming on Spring in Chicago, the weather is warming up and the sun is shining. I wanted to make a drink that would be enjoyed in a place where summer snows were common, but I didn’t want my guests sweating while they were sitting in my warm apartment.
Well….luckily...it SNOWED. I woke up Sunday and honestly laughed maniacally because if I did not laugh I probably would have cried. Saturday was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and at least 50℉ with just a slight breeze off the lake. How could this have changed so drastically overnight?
Sunday Chicago woke up to very wet and heavy snow and frigid winds. Terrible for getting in the Spring mood. Perfect for mulled wine!
When Spring is Still Winter, Mulled Wine
750 ML Red Wine
1 C Brandy
1 C Homemade Plum Juice
2 C Homemade Cherry Juice
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
½ Tsp Ground Clove
For Plum Juice
3 Ripe Plums
1 C Water
For Cherry Juice
18 Oz Frozen Cherries
2 C Water
¼ C Sugar
I was going to only make a warmed brandy drink, showcasing the flavors of plum and cherry. Because for some reason those flavors screamed to me when I began thinking of the Stark family, even though I am pretty sure these are both warm climate fruits. Oh well!
But since it was snowing I could not resist adding wine to the mix and ended up with a different mulled wine than the classic flavors we made HERE.
Let’s begin with all of our juices! If you can find cherry or plum juice, by all means, go for it! I had all day and decided to make them. Honestly it did not take too long and they were lovely.
We will start with the cherry! In a medium saucepan combine frozen cherries ( pitted), water, and sugar. Just three simple ingredients! Heat on low to let the sugar dissolves and the cherries to thaw.
Leave the pan on the burner at a light simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool before extracting all the solid cherries and blending them with a little of the liquid. Combine the rest of the liquid from the pot with the blended cherries in an airtight container then store in the fridge.
On to the plum juice! This involves a little more work since I could not find frozen cut up plums. But, they were extremely ripe and the pits practically popped out. Using a sharp knife begin at the stem and run the knife around the plum with enough pressure to reach the pit.
Using both hands twist the two halves until one section separates itself from the pit. Repeat the same process to the half that still has the pit. After you should be able to remove the pit from the quarter piece of plum with your fingers.
I am choosing the keep the skins on because I believe that a lot of the flavor can be found in the flesh of this fruit, like grapes when making wine.
Combine plums with water and simmer on low in a small saucepan for about 10-15 minutes, the plums should look like they are falling apart. Then off to the blender! Skins and all. Also, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For Christmas this past year I asked for something to store my homemade juices in and my parents gifted me with these amazing glass cream bottles! I absolutely love them and if you are also a fan of making your own juices I could not recommend them more.
When it is time we are going to combine our juices in a large pot with vanilla extract and clove. Be careful of the clove, too much easily becomes too much. If you are not the biggest fan of the flavor do not be afraid to cut it entirely. I have a friend who cannot even smell the stuff so I would nix that ingredient if she was joining us.
Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to bloom together. Then add brandy and wine. Only cook enough to warm and do not allow it to boil. We do not want to boil out any of the alcohol.
Once it is warm ladle out in your favorite mugs or chalices and settles in because winter is STILL here (apparently).