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The warm embrace of hot alcohol

... and that's what makes these alcoholic beverages even sweeter in the winter.

Hot Toddy | Rivington Social
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Hot Toddy | Rivington Social

Scotland, the homeland of whisky, is usually pretty chilly all year round. Perhaps that's why they're home to the hot toddy—a drink the Scots created to warm their bodies when they came down with a cold. Some doctors even recommend a glass of this instead of prescription cough syrup. The best part is that it’s really easy to make. Dissolve some honey with boiling water in a mug and, then top it off with whisky. Add some lemon or cinnamon as a garnish to give it a deeper aroma. Those who are not too familiar with drinking whisky might want to give this a try at a place in Seorae Village. The moment you step into Rivington Social, your eyes will dart towards the massive collection of whiskies. The bartender explains the traditions and different recipes about this healthy drink with such vivacity that watching his passion is just as warming as the drink!

Editor’s Tip

The basic way to drink sake is called acheukang, which means “warm sake.” There’s also oyuwari, where you mix it with warm water, and pouring cold water in your drink makes it mizuwari. Is there anything more special, you ask? Mix in an egg yolk into your warm sake, and you’ll get the sensation of your stomach being cleansed.

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Vin Chaud | Six Months Open
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Vin Chaud | Six Months Open

Vin chaud is a red wine that has been boiled for an hour or two with ginger, apples, oranges, whole cloves, star anise and other ingredients that add more spice. No need for expensive wine, you can even use wine that has been left over. The French call it vin chaud, the Germans glühwein and the British call it “mulled wine.” Tucked behind Sung-ji Motel on Gyeongridan-gil, Six Months Open always brews just enough vin chaud for the day. Their vin chaud has already swept the media, and it’s no surprise it gained so much publicity because they are not stingy with their ingredients (with the exception of ginger, which they do not put in at all). Heavily tied to the Christmas holidays, why not bring on the holiday cheer with a warm, fragrant glass of vin chaud!

Editor’s tip

You can switch around the ingredients that go into vin chaud. Some powdered almonds, cinnamon sticks or nutmeg serve as great additions to this drink. As you boil the wine, the alcohol evaporates and it usually loses its sweet aroma. You can just add a splash of whiskey or a shot of Disaronno to give your vin chaud that extra kick.

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Irish Coffee | Mix & Malt
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Irish Coffee | Mix & Malt

As one of the newer artisanal bars in Hyehwa, Mix & Malt is still off the radar to most. This homey bar uses fresh herbs and spices—many of which come straight from their own garden—to concoct some of the best cocktails in this part of the city. The menu is so thorough that placing an order might be the biggest decision patrons make all day. In addition to the classics, Mix & Malt also boasts a number of signature and seasonal specialties, such as their ever-changing mojito varities, each having a superb presentation. Because so much effort is put into each drink, waiting time is a bit longer here than at other bars, so visitors should be prepared to wait. Fortunately, the bar offers plenty of entertainment, from board games to video games to a shuffleboard table. On the second floor, there is a cozy fireplace which makes this our go-to drinking hole in the colder months.

Editor’s tip

Other than an Irish coffee, there are many ways to drink your coffee by adding some liquor. Putting Kahlua or rum in your coffee gives your drink a different flavor. You can even replace your coffee with a chocolate-based drink if you need that extra bit of sugar to take you to your happy place. (Plus, it helps you sleep better.)

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Hyehwa-dong
Warm Sake | Cham-sae-jip (Sparrow’s Nest)
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Warm Sake | Cham-sae-jip (Sparrow’s Nest)

Fugu hirezake is where they take the torched fin or tail of a blowfish and soak it in the sake. It is served hot enough where you need to blow on the surface to cool it down a bit before you take a sip, and as it goes down your throat you can feel the heat rising in your body. To experience the fullness of Fugu hirezake, it’s best to pair it up with a savory, grilled piece of meat. In that sense, you can say that Chamsae-jip has held down the fort of the Cheongjin-dong area for 30 years with Fugu hirezake. With all of their ingredients being locally produced, you can get a taste of their signature dish, the cham-sae (grilled sparrow) skewers, which brings out the best of Fugu hirezake. Although it doesn’t look edible at first sight (it’s grilled from head to tail), you will find this new flavor oddly satisfying.

Editor’s Tip

The basic way to drink sake is called acheukang, which means “warm sake.” There’s also oyuwari, where you mix it with warm water, and pouring cold water in your drink makes it mizuwari. Is there anything more special, you ask? Mix in an egg yolk into your warm sake, and you’ll get the sensation of your stomach being cleansed.

Read more

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