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  • David Price

Celebrating around the World

It’s that time of the year again, when it’s time to throw caution (and exercise) to the wind and let your hair down by celebrating the end of another year. With so many having faced a difficult year, what better way to celebrate than to drink something other than your usual tipple.

While champagne, wine, and beer are often drunk before, during, and after Christmas dinner in the UK, other drinks are enjoyed throughout the run-up to December 25th.

UK: Mulled wine: Is a staple throughout the festive season in Britain. Made from hot wine and spices, it's a great winter warmer. To make a tasty mulled wine, you will need:

  • Wine: Nothing too pricey bottle, a mid-range bottle of dry red or white wine will do or a boxed wine if you’re going to need a lot of it!!! The best wine for mulled wine will be fruity and full-bodied a Zinfandel, Merlot, Grenache will do.

  • Brandy: is the traditional choice, but Cointreau (or another orange liqueur) or tawny port are also delicious alternatives.

  • Fresh oranges: sliced and use as a garnish if you’d like and to make it seem healthy.

  • Cinnamon: you could whisk in some ground cinnamon if that’s what you have on hand.

  • Mulling spices: vary in mulled wine from country to country, but whole cloves and star anise , plus a few cardamom pods.

  • Sweetener: to taste. Sugar is classic, or with either maple syrup or honey.

Making mulled wine: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and give them a quick stir. Heat until the wine almost reaches a simmer over medium-high heat. Avoid letting it bubble in any way as alcohol begins to vaporise at 172°F. Strain and season. Remove and discard the orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise and ginger, then consume.

Other forms of mulled wine around Europe;

Germany: Glühwein in Germany is often considered their version of mulled wine, something that exists as a cheery warming agent in plenty of cultures during the dark and chilly winter months. The German word itself directly translates to mean ‘glow wine’ in English. This name was derived from the red hot irons used to heat the wine across the Germanic cultures when the drink first became popular hundreds of years ago.

Holland: glühwein. This warming drink is significantly more peppery than other European variants and contains traditional Dutch spices like anise, nutmeg and cinnamon.

France: Vin Chaud is the French term for a fragrant and spiced mulled wine drink, similar to Swedish glögg and German glühwein. Although this warming winter tipple is often associated with Christmas markets and festive holiday occasions, vin chaud has also become a trendy seasonal beverage, perfect for fireside gatherings and après-ski. As an added kicker, Cognac is often used.

Sweden: Glögg recipes vary widely; variations commonly start with white or sweet wine or spirits such as brandy or cognac. The production of glögg begins by boiling water and adding spices to it. After a few minutes of simmering, the mixture is sieved and fruit juice, wine or clear spirits are added. Other versions begin by warming up the wine, alcohol, and sugar (not boiling it) and letting the spices steep in it overnight. The most common spices in glögg are cloves and cinnamon cardamon and ginger. Other common ingredients can include citrus peel from oranges or lemons, raisins or almonds.

Iceland: Jólabland, is the Icelandic christmas drink. This mix is a pure Icelandic invention. With alcohol being very expensive, most people couldn't afford to buy ale and fizzy drinks, so it was something only to be enjoyed on festive occasions, such as Christmas and birthdays. Mixing the drinks together was probably believed to make it even more enjoyable to drink. The taste is sweet, malty and mellow. To make: Mix equal measures of an orange flavoured fizzy drink (Fanta will do) and brown ale (Guinness is supposed to be good) and mix together. Be careful to pour the orange drink first, and pour the ale carefully to avoid it getting too frothy. Drink with the Christmas meal. To get an authentic flavour, the orange drink should be the Icelandic Egils Appelsín, and the brown ale Egils Malt. Some people (like my family) like to add some cola, usually Coke.

Sweden: Julmust is a non-alcoholic Swedish drink that’s associated with the festive season. The name itself means “Christmas juice”. When translated from Swedish, Jul means Christmas (yule), with the second part of the name, must, being the term used for unfermented juice or berries.

To make: Home-made julmust is made from naturally carbonated ferments, and begins with a basic must, called sodastart. Once the sodastart is ready, it’s added to a fruit and spice maceration, and then left to ferment further. This results in a sweet, rich, and dark effervescent beverage.(to spice it up, I’m sure a drop of vodka wouldn’t go a miss!)

Ireland: Irish Whiskey Cocktail. One to consume by the open fire, or radiator , your choice.. Simply mix 2 parts Irish whiskey, 1 part Kahlua coffee liqueur, 1/2 part schnapps, 1 x Christmas stick for effect, then consume..

Canada/USA :Eggnog is traditionally consumed throughout the US and Canada over the Christmas season,. Eggnog is also known as milk punch or a holiday sludge when alcohol is added. Traditionally it is made with sugar, milk, cream, whipped egg whites, and egg yolks (which gives it a frothy texture, and its name). Adding a brandy, rum or whiskey are often a key ingredient. Eggnog is often served chilled, but has been known to be served warm, particularly on the very cold days (similar to the way mulled wine is served warm).

Japanese Christmas cocktail: A Shochu and Baileys White Christmas. A comforting and unique take on the classic “White Russian,” this is the ideal bevvy to sip on Christmas eve whilst relaxing next to a roaring fire. To make the drink, simply add 50ml baileys original Irish cream, one shot shochu ,half shot kahlua , 75ml milk along with some ice cubes into a tumbler. Shake and then strain into martini glass…

Belize: Belizean Rum Popo is a traditional rum creme made in Belize, which is similar to eggnog. It is drunk to celebrate the festive season and welcome people into your homes over the festive period. The drink consists of egg, evaporated milk, condensed milk, white rum, vanilla extract , cinnamon powder and freshly ground nutmeg.

New Zealand / Australia: Beer, preferably cold to accompany the shrimps on the barbie..


No matter where you are in the world, people love to celebrate and no matter what they celebrate with, I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and one equally as good for the New Year.

Brett’s view:

I’m looking forward to Christmas. not too sure what my tipple of choice will be, but that’s half the fun, trying to decide.

David’s view:

I think I am going to try and make a Belizian Rum Popo, although its been a while since I have had evaporated milk ! Plan B if this fails is to rely on the keg that we normally get from the local Marlow Brewery ! Have a great Christmas, wishing you great health and happiness.

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