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La Bohème Inspired Mulled Wine

Photo: The Metropolitan Opera

When we were picking out a cocktail for December, we struggled to figure out what winter or holiday opera would translate well into a drink. I considered a heavily spiced cider for Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors or maybe a rum punch for Jake Heggie's It's a Wonderful Life. None of them really suited the spirit of what we wanted to capture, until we came to La Bohème!

La Bohème is not the quintessential Christmas opera. Christmas is merely part of the scenery, a way to show the passage of time, but the themes of La Bohème are at the heart of what we wanted to celebrate with this cocktail. We wanted to capture friendship and love and celebration even in hardship. Which is exactly what we think of when we think of La Bohème.


In the opening scene of La Bohème, Schaunard, the musician of the group, brings in food, cigars, and wine after finally having made a little bit of money, and all of the

Photo: ENO/Thomas Bowles

friends celebrate in their tiny cold apartment before heading off to spend the rest of their Christmas Eve at Cafe Momus eating and drinking even more wine. So we decided we would use wine as the base of our cocktail and nothing says friendship and celebration quite like splitting a big bottle of cheap wine and there's no easier way to make a cheap bottle of wine taste good than to mull it.

Mulling wine is easy and fun, all you need are a couple of spices, a big bottle of wine, some fruit, and a sweetener. I've included the ground spice measurements to make this as accessible as possible but whole spices are easier to work with!

While we may not be able to gather and celebrate with our loved ones this year, this cocktail is meant to celebrate all the love that is still here even through hardship and the hope that we get to split the bottle with those loved ones next year.


1 (750ml) Bottle of Cheap Red Wine

1 Orange, sliced

2 Star Anise Pods or 1 tsp ground

2 Cinnamon Sticks or 1 tsp ground

2 Cardamom Pods or 1/3 tsp ground

4 Cloves or 1/4 tsp ground

1/4 cup of Brandy

1/4 cup of Grand Marnier (optional)

3 Tbs. Honey


  1. Combine all the ingredients into a non-reactive pot and stir

  2. Bring the wine to a simmer

  3. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and allow it to mull for 15-20 minutes

  4. Strain out the spices with a fine mesh strainer, if you used ground spices, you may want to skim off any excess

  5. Serve in mugs and garnish with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick

We wish you a wonderful holiday season full of joy, peace, and of course, mulled wine! If you decide to try out our recipe, be sure to tag us on Instagram, or Facebook @OperaOffstage! To watch Jessie craft this mulled wine, watch our tutorial on Instagram!


- Michelle + Jessie

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