Being a bit of a Dickensian traditionalist when I think of winter there are usually two, completely opposite images that spring to mind.
The first is a roaring fire, in a hearth bedecked with Christmas cards and stockings, a tree twinkling in the background, maybe some tinsel and an Elf-on-the-Shelf tormenting me from a distance whilst paragliding with Barbie.
The second image is one of crisp white snow, perhaps a frozen lake and a gentle slope. There are cherubic looking children gently tossing snowballs, or constructing a snow-person or riding wooden sledges whooshing past at break-neck speed. Somewhere in this image are the parents along with their other adult friends, warmly ensconced in scarves and gloves, standing in a circle laughing whilst getting gently sozzled on some warm alcoholic concoction and enjoying a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts.
Well that second perfect winter scene was almost acted out to perfection in the new Winter Garden at the Raeburn in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. They have fitted out their front garden with a bar and outdoor grill, along with big chunky tables, blankets and some less traditional heaters. You have a winter wonderland that last night was only missing out on the snow. On a dry night, with a good jacket this is a great place to spend an evening.
But what to drink? May I suggest a mug of warmed Spiced Plum Rekorderlig Cider. Sweeter than a traditional mulled wine, but that’ll be the pear cider combining with plums and cherries to provide a massive fruit hit. The mix of spices including the obvious cloves and cinnamon, take the edge off the sweetness creating a very smooth warm drink. There is an obvious danger that you would completely forget that there was any alcohol in the mugs at all, so be careful, at 4% abv a few mugs will definitely put some colour in your cheeks.
The outdoor bar will also serve up traditional mulled wine or Hot Chocolate (available with or without Baileys!) as well as a selection of draught pints, of course you can always pop into the pub for whatever you wish!
The outdoor barbecue can also sort you out with some food: Brie & Cranberry Beef Burger, Venison Burger or Bratwurst Hot Dog are all on offer for a fiver from The Raeburns Rayburn. A delicious and simple way to grab a quick bite, when everywhere else is trying to tempt you with Turkey Dinners
The Raeburn Winter Garden is open every Thursday - Sunday night in December, if you are in that neck of the woods it’s well worth popping in.