Tutorial: How to Make Mulled Wine à la The Dead Rabbit

Bar manager Jack McGarry teaches us how to make an aromatic, heavily spiced mulled wine recipe that dates back to 1892.

  • Click through the gallery for a step-by-step mulled wine tutorial...
  • Pour 90g of sugar into a medium saucepan.
  • Zest two oranges. Try to get as little pith as possible—here's a guide to
  • Add the orange zest to the pan. Muddle the orange zest with the sugar for five minutes. The resulting sugary citrus oil is called oleo-saccharum.
  • Pour the three ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice into the pan with the oleo saccharum.
  • Next, crush the star anise, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, and cloves using a mortar and pestle. Pound the spices until they are broken up into large pieces. (This photo shows the star anise whole.)
  • Crush the two bay leaves with your hands and add them to the pan, along with the crushed spices.
  • Things should be looking like this by now.
  • Pour the bottle of Bordeaux into the pan.
  • This is the best ingredient, because it's the one that gets you drunk.
  • Put the pan over medium to low heat and bring to a boil. Stir constantly at the beginning so the sugar doesn't caramelize at the bottom of the pan.
  • The room will, inevitably, begin to smell a lot like Christmas.
  • Once the liquid comes to a boil, strain it through a chinois (fine strainer).
  • Pour or ladle your mulled wine into a small wine goblet or the serving vessel of your choice.
  • Finish off each glass by grating half a nutmeg over the top of the glass.
  • Time to cozy up by the fire with your warm beverage and a good 19th-century cocktail recipe book.

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.



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