One bottle red wine
4 ounces brandy
One blood orange, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Black peppercorns, lightly crushed
Lemon slice for serving
Star anise for garnish
Here's what I know about Feast of Wolves: it's inspired by, or based on, or a reworking of the Oresteia - the stories about Orestes, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra and those guys. Charlotte is the Clytemnestra character, who, you will recall, is a formidable ruler and devoted mother.
So, red wine. The Greeks loved it. They even have a god in charge of it. This god enjoyed a festival during which the first tragedies were performed. Coincidence?
Then brandy, which is what happens to wine when you treat it mean.
Oranges are pretty common in mulled wine, but of course we're using blood oranges. BLOOD oranges. Right? And usually I would ask you to use the zest of the orange and the juice, and avoid the bitter pith. But with this story, we want the bitter pith. We need the bitter pith. We must have the bitter pith. The bitterer and pithier the better.
In a saucepan, combine the wine, brandy, orange slices and sugar and heat it up. At this point we would ordinarily add some lovely mulling spices - cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, etc. Those sweet, comforting, pumpkin-pie-type spices that make you think of Thanksgiving and grandma's house. Fuck that. Save that shit for your stupid cappuccino.
Instead, we're adding pepper and goddamn Worcestershire sauce.
Heat this slowly. You want to give the flavors time to mingle, but you don't want the mixture to boil. Boiling means the alcohol is going away and I don't understand the point of that. Look for tiny bubbles around the edges and steam rising from the surface.
Now I will tell you how to serve this drink, which is a relief, right? You were afraid I was going to talk about "tragedy" and "catharsis" but I'm not, except to say that if you think modern audiences can't really understand tragedy and pity and fear and all that, well, go spend some time at the Walgreens pharmacuetical counter--which I have done recently for reasons I'd rather not go into.
Strain the mulled wine into a bowl to make it easier to serve.
Or into a crockpot to keep it warm for a party which is what I'll be doing at the Southern Theater on opening night of Feast of Wolves.
Just before serving, swipe a bit of lemon around the inside of the serving glass or mug, just to give the drink a little brightness. Pour or ladle the wine into the mug. Garnish by balancing a star anise on the rim. It looks terrific and, if you are careless while drinking, it might get caught in your throat and kill you.