Ask an energy expert how to keep comfortable in winter and you'll likely get a lecture on insulation. But ask a thoughtful hostess the same question, and you'll probably end up with a mug of something hot and spicy to warm the cockles of your heart.

All of the steaming potions that follow are perfect for cold-weather hospitality. The recipes can be easily doubled or even tripled to serve a large group. You can keep some of these drinks warm in a crockpot (slow cooker), or invite friends to help themselves from a large kettle on the kitchen range. If you happen to own a wood stove, that's best of all!

By the way, in olden days, toast often accompanied hot, spirited concoctions, giving us the term "to make a toast." You might want to include some, just for old times' sake, and "toast" all your friends. SPICY TOM AND JERRY (4 servings) 2 large eggs, separated 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) brandy 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) dark rum 3 cups hot milk Freshly grated nutmeg

Use an electric mixer or wire whisk to beat egg whites with sugar until stiff. Beat in yolks, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla until completely combined and mixture is very thick. Divide mixture into four mugs.

Add 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) brandy and 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) rum to each mug. Then pour 3/4 cup hot milk into each mug, and stir gently until combined. Grate a bit of nutmeg on top, and serve immediately. MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE (Makes about 3 cups) 1 1/2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 tablespoons sugar Pinch salt 2 3/4 cups boiling water 1 large egg, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cut chocolate into small pieces or grate. Place in a saucepan with the nonfat dry milk, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Add boiling water and stir until chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove a small amount of chocolate mixture and stir into beaten egg. Add this back to the remaining chocolate mixture while beating with a wire whisk or portable electric mixer.

Place saucepan over medium heat and cook, beating constantly, until mixture is frothy and chocolate is completely melted (about 2 to 3 minutes). Do not boil. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla.Serve immediately. (Recipe may be doubled, if desired.) HOT BUTTERED RUM (4 servings) 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 6 ounces (3/4 cup) dark rum About 3 cups boiling water Additional butter (optional)

Cream butter with brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves until well mixed. Divide mixture into four mugs. Add 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) rum to each mug. Then fill with boiling water (about 3/4 cup). If desired, float a small dab of extra butter on top. Serve immediately. HOT CRAN-APPLE SWIZZLE (Makes about 12 to 13 1/2 cups) This is a great party punch, with or without the liquor. 3 cups water, divided 1/3 cup brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 (16-ounce) cans jellied cranberry sauce 5 cups apple cider (1 1/2 cups vodka or light rum, optional)

Put 1 cup of the water in a large saucepan with the brown sugar and all the spices. Bring to a boil. Add the cranberry sauce and heat, while stirring, until melted and smooth. (Break up the cranberry sauce as you stir).

Stir in the cider and the remaining 2 cups water. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. If desired, stir in the vodka or rum, and heat another minute or so until hot. Serve in mugs.

(Note: Drink, without liquor, may be kept warm an hour or so over very low heat, covered. If liquor is desired, add just before serving so that alcohol doesn't evaporate.)