I miss holiday travel, and especially the beloved Christmas markets that pop up in Europe this time of year.
Nothing gets you in the spirit like walking around these markets with a warm holiday cocktail, smelling the delicious aromas of traditional Christmas fare, and seeing all the smiling faces of vendors selling their cheese, sweets, and hand made goods. So, with this mind I wanted to re-create these festive memories at home this Holiday season.
Our first stop on the holiday drinking-around-the-world tour is the Christmas market in Nuremburg, Germany, home to the famous Gluhwein – German mulled wine.
This traditional German drink made by pouring red wine into a bowl heated bowl. (Think of our crawfish boil pot set up.) A metal grate is then placed over the top of the bowl and a rum soaked sugar cube is placed on top; and set on fire to caramelize into the wine. This is so amazing to see in person. Let us re-create this drink at home on your stove top or crock pot.
GLUHWEIN: HOT SPICED WINE
- 2 bottles red wine (inexpensive; use a full-bodied wine like a Syrah or Malbec)
- 3 star anise
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2 oranges zested
- 10 oz apple cider
Allow the above ingredients to simmer on low heat to infuse spices with the wine and apple cider. Next once everything has infused add 10 oz of brandy still using low heat. To serve ladle into a festive glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange slice.
And the best part—leftovers can be refrigerated for up to three days and re-heated on low heat.
Next up, we travel to Italy for the Bombardino: Italian Egg Nog.
This drink mixes brandy and alcoholic egg-based zabaglione to create an orange “bomb.” It is is famous in Christmas markets of Northern Italy, and ski slopes in the Italian Alps. This drink is super easy to make at home.
BOMBARDINO: ITALIAN EGG NOG
- 40 ml brandy
- 80 ml Advocaat or Zabov Zabaglione egg liqueur (if you can’t find this, use your favorite eggnog)
- Whipped cream
- Ground cinnamon
Gently warm the egg liqueur in a pan, but do not boil. Pour the brandy into a glass mug. Pour the warm eggy liqueur into the glass and stir. Pipe in whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Our next stop France, and the Christmas market on the Champs Elysees where we will sip Vin Chaud: French Mulled Wine. This is also a favorite in the Christmas markets along the Rhine River in the Alsace region of France.
VIN CHAUD: FRENCH MULLED WINE
- 1.5 bottles of red wine (again inexpensive, but full bodied)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- Zest 1 lemon
- Zest 1 orange
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 2 cloves
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons of Honey
On your stove top bring the red wine to a boil, add remaining ingredients, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Ladle into a glass mug. Garnish with another cinnamon stick and an orange slice. This drink is also great for parties. Do not forget that you can re-use any leftovers.
From France, we will travel to England for a Wassil. Wassil is a festive traditional drink that dates back to Medieval times when, on the Twelfth Night, villagers would run into the fields and chant as a spiritual ritual to help the apple crops thrive for spring harvest. Today, it is a holiday favorite in some of London’s nicest Cider rooms and hip bar scene.
- 2 apples
- 750 ml bottle of Cognac
- 8 cups apple cider
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 15 whole cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Poke the whole cloves into the apples on all sides. Add all ingredients, including the apples to a large pot over medium-low heat. Bring to simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the apples and whole cloves ladle into mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice and enjoy. This one is even better re-heated the next day.
Our final stop on our holiday drinking around the world is Ireland for a Christmas Irish Whiskey Cocktail. This is a cocktail that is popular around the holidays in Ireland according to the Irish Whiskey Museum.
CHRISTMAS IRISH WHISKEY COCKTAIL
- 2 oz Irish Whiskey (I am a Jameson lover)
- 1 oz Kahlua Coffee liqueur
- .05 oz Mint Schnapps
Pour all ingredients into a high ball glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish will a candy cane.
I hope you will enjoy all of these fun, festive, and easy drinks that help me recall my experiences in these beautiful places while enjoying the local culture (aka “Cocktails”).