Wrap your chilly mitts around a big, warming mug of hot, spiced wine. Whoever thought of taking the naturally belly warming concoction that is red wine and turning it up to 'sauna' is a genius; probably one that's always smiling blearily. Germans call it Gluhwein, we call it mulled wine - it's all the same, and it's bloody fantastic. Mrs Santa Claus herself has a big pot of the stuff on the go from about March, just to keep the hubby and elves ticking along nicely. London is embracing the sweet nectar with open arms, and we've picked out the most ho ho ho-ingly festive experiences on offer.
Right, so we're going to deviate here, but all for a good cause. Hot mulled cider is certainly not mulled wine, but it is a hot alcoholic beverage. What's more, it's bloody amazing and being brewed up a storm at Hackney's Winterville. Giving the requisite craft beer predominance a run for its hoppy money, The Hot Cider Bar by Ciderbox are ladling out apple goodness by the bucketload.
Get your culture fix and mainline some sweet, sweet wine in an evening of prosperous gratification. There's something fitting about clasping a glass vessel of steaming, spiced liquid, lounging rakishly in the artistic setting and probably spouting a load of drivel. Also expanding into the rather perilous realm of hot toddies and the deeply gluttonous one of boozy hot chocolate, this is the opium den of warm beverages.
Lose your Lederhosen and drool over your Dirndl for The Bavarian Beerhouse's authentic Gluhwein. Served with a smile and swish of gingham, it's impossible not to feel that tell-tale mulled wine rosy glow. If you can't quite handle the enormous steins of peril, and cold beer just seems counter-intuitive in the brisk chill, Gluhwein will set you right. And how about a frankfurter?
Nordic countries do winter better, they do Christmas better, and they could well do mulled wine better. Wrapping themselves up in a giant pelt, popping an elk stew on to simmer and upping the blood alcohol level as a seasonal right of passage, Skylounge have done the right thing taking inspiration from these cosy cousins. Bubbling up some wine and providing a novel al fresco experience, giving all the cheer you suspect the actual outdoor life probably doesn't in any consistency.
Skid up off the ice at Broadgate Ice Skating Rink and curl your fingers around a mug of mulled wine - that is if you still have them all intact. Ice skating has this image of being utterly delightful, even advertising itself as the perfect date activity. It's not; it's full of peril, freezing and certainly shouldn't be attempted without a good dose of Dutch courage. The Tasting Room realises this and provides it in due style.
You'd think, with its penchant for a classic cocktail, that The Hide Bar would be spitting teeth at the mere though of mulled wine. But no, even liquor connoisseurs appreciate the simply beauty of glugging some wine into a vat, heating it up and chugging it with abandon. Set handily close to Borough Market, this is a great sheltered apres-market pitstop to recover from all the taster eating.