I'm a lightweight when it comes to booze, and I'll be the first to admit that my interpretation of a "hot toddy" is a little loose. My husband loves Glühwein (German/Austrian mulled wine), but he prefers drinking white wine to red, so for this contest I decided to experiment with a white mulled wine, amped up with pear brandy. I infused the wine with cardamom and star anise, which I thought would go nicely with the white wine, as well as the more traditional triumvirate of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. To amplify the pear flavor, I added a slice of Asian pear to each drink as a garnish -- the pear softens slightly as it absorbs the warm booze and makes for a yummy treat once you've sipped the last of the wine. - Merrill —Merrill Stubbs
750 ml bottle dry or off-dry white wine (preferably Riesling or Grüner Veltliner)
Put the wine in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan with the star anise, ginger, cardamom, cloves and honey (start with 3 tablespoons and adjust later if necessary). Set the pan over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the wine mull for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Taste the wine and add more honey if you’d like. Gently reheat the wine until it starts to steam, then turn off the heat and stir in the brandy. Divide among 4 mugs or heatproof glasses, putting a few of the spices in each glass if you’d like, and add a slice of Asian pear. Toddy away!