Winter brings with it the joys of abandoning ice-cold drinks and consuming drinks that warm your soul. As the evenings draw in, nights get cooler, the tree stands tall in the living room and the gifts are wrapped, warm beverages await to be cupped in your hands.
For a little trip down memory lane, here's some trivia, 'ice' didn't become available in London until the 1840s, and even then it was only for those luxurious society parties and gatherings. So these ice-cold drinks that we drink on such a regular basis now, were a substance of luxury back in the 19th century. Before then, Londoners were all hailing hot drinks - from egg nogs, ciders, mulled wine, wassails, possets and blazers - you name it and British people knew how to whip up the best beverage, way before central heating was introduced in the houses.
These days, mulled wine is more of a festive beverage, but it's still as much of an epitome of Christmas, festivity and tradition, as is Santa Clause.
Here are the top five places in London where you can go warm your heart and soul; plus give a little something exciting to the tastebuds:
- The Garden Gate, Hampstead Heath: This dog-friendly gem serves the most festive and cheerful mulled wine, one that will convert all the grinches in the house. Come here on a Sunday afternoon for a grandma-style roast and sip this spiced, cinnamon drink with a Christmas hat on!
- Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch: As part of their winter special, this happy-go-lucky pub has set up a tipi on their rooftop with the name 'WigWamBam'. Enter its vicinity and expect to be enthralled by an aroma of fresh roast, jacket potatoes, spiced cider, hot chocolate and fiery bonfire. Get some marshmallows to roast, choose a cider or mulled wine from their weekly specials and feel the warmth of this holiday season under a tipi in London's party district.
- The Rake, Borough Markets: Nestled in the heart of this buzzing food market, this bar is for beer lovers who like a blend of light and dark ale with spices. There serving style is what makes their drink so special: think metal mugs that have been warmed up by placing on a piece of hot iron rod heated on actual fire. You might feel like you've gone back to the primitive times - in a good way, of course.
- Ship Tavern, Holborn: For one hundred percent authentic British experience, venture off to this backstreet tavern in central London during the cooler months. It's a very charming pub, with a very good looking crowd (bonus!), and they claim to be serving the 'best mulled wine in London right now'. Big call, we say. But you make the decision.
- The Windsor Castle, Notting Hill: This West London pub is as cozy as your living room with panelled corners, hardwood decks with heating, all overlooking a beautiful herb garden. The mulled wine here isn't the speciality, it's more the food menu and the atmosphere that makes this English pub a shortlist into our top five.
What's your favourite winter beverage?