All photos by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

Mulled wine is a staple of a good holiday party (or even just a winter day chilling at home), but rolling with the first recipe that comes up in a Google search can result in some lackluster boozing. That’s why we answered our cold-weather cravings for something hot and alcoholic by seeking the advice of Jack McGarry, bar manager at The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in NYC.

Why? Well, as McGarry puts it, the celebrated cocktail bar’s “whole ethos is based in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. So the whole focal point of our beverage program is punch.” Mulled wine falls under the hot punch category, but more specifically it is a bishop, or “a style of hot punch which was drank by the English during the 17th and 18th centuries.”

“Punch was a drink that was invented by the British while in India,” says McGarry. “The English were slow to take to spiritous laced punches but were well into their wines which were adulterated with citrus, spices, sugar and water. In America, punch was absolutely huge. The upper echelons of American society would have drank spiced wines, too. They drank a lot of spiced wines in a hot format because of the weather. Eventually, things like radiators and central heaters caused the death of the hot spiced wine tradition.”

McGarry’s mulled wine recipe, listed as “Alymeth” on The Dead Rabbit menu, dates back to 1892. The recipe was first published in The Flowing Bowl, an American cocktail recipe book by William Schmidt.

Get the recipe below, then click through the gallery at the top for a step-by-step rundown of how to make it.

Alymeth (Mulled Wine)

Makes 6 servings


  • 1 bottle Bordeaux wine (look for a blend that is heavy on the Cabernet)
  • 90 mg caster sugar
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove nutmeg


Put sugar and orange zest into a medium saucepan. Muddle the sugar and zest for five minutes to release the oils. Add the orange juice to the pan. Crush the star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice berries in a mortar and pestle. Add the wine to the pan and set the pan over medium-low heat. Bring the liquid to a boil. Take the pan off the heat and strain the hot liquid through a chinois or fine strainer. Pour or ladle the wine into a small wine goblet. Top with one half clove of freshly grated nutmeg.