You may not be celebrating the holidays as usual this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create some new holiday entertaining traditions.
While we wait to travel and celebrate again, here are two recipes for ‘spirited’ holiday drinks from favorite destinations to warm your heart and remind you of better times ahead.
Perfect for a virtual holiday cocktail party, long winter evenings binge-watching holiday movies, or trimming your tree, these recipes can be made for one or more to share.
Warm wine makes winter better. All the iconic Christmas tastes, sights and sounds of Germany’s Christmas markets, from the fir trees and handmade toys, fires roasted nuts and sausages, are enhanced by its warm and aromatic signature drink. Warm, often spiced, wine, can be found throughout Europe, like mulled wine in England, or vin chaud in France.
Gluhwein is Germany’s version. While the combination of citrus, fruit juices, spices – and even color of wine! – varies, one thing stays the same. Gluhwein translates roughly to ‘glowing wine’, referring to the red hot irons from the fires that were originally stuck into the wine to heat it up. That should give you a sense of the long history of Gluhwein. There’s a gold-plated Gluhwein tankard dating from the early 1400’s that’s attributed to the German aristocrat who was the first grower of Riesling grapes.
Cologne Christmas Market, Germany © GNTB/Wojciech Grabowski
Although most gluhweins you’ll see at Christmas markets in Germany involve red wine, this recipe, from AmaWaterways, uses regional white wines you’ll get to try on one of the river cruise line’s Danube or Rhine cruises during the summer or during a magical Christmas market cruise.
- 3 cups of white wine (Silvaner or Müller-Thurgau)
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup Franconian plum brandy (optional but recommended, as a little of the alcohol cooks out of the wine)
- 4 slices of orange
- 2 slices of lemon
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 star anise
- 5 allspice seeds
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 pinch of aniseed
- 1 tsp. honey (if you prefer it sweeter, add a bit more)
- Extra slices of fruit for garnish, if desired
- In a medium-sized stock pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine all of the ingredients, except for the honey. Stir to combine.
- Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer, keeping the lid on, for 10 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil again; if it boils too long all of the alcohol will be cooked out.
- After 10 minutes, immediately remove from the heat. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve; discard the aromatics. Return the mixture to the pot and taste-test. Stir in honey, tasting as you go until you reach your desired sweetness.
- Ladle into desired serving glasses. Garnish with sliced fruit, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or star anise pods, if desired. Serve immediately.
Pair your Gluhwein with authentic German standards like hot sausages and pretzels, or seasonal festive sweets like stollen, fruit bread; gingerbread or lebkuchen; and glorious marzipan.
The clue to this festive Costa Rican drink is also in its name. But it’s not like a rum punch found in the Caribbean. Rompope is Costa Rica’s answer to British egg nog or Dutch advocaat, composed of egg yolk, milk, sugar, cinammon and rum. Unlike egg nog, it’s cooked like a hot, boozy custard. Variations made with coconut milk, coffee, almonds or other nuts are popular in other parts of Latin America.
Rompope’s roots are believed to be Spanish colonial, with stories told of Spanish nuns making the New World’s first batches. Today, families often make two bottles ahead of celebrations, a grown-up version with the rum, and a non-alcoholic version for the younger members of the family. The kids’ version is also used for making cookies, cakes, ice cream and jellies. And the adult rompope can be strong; the rum is added at the end so the alcohol doesn’t cook off.
Courtesy Visit Costa Rica
It’s the sweet and strong traditional beverage of Christmas gatherings. And Visit Costa Rica has sent this rompope recipe for us to share in its celebration of the joys of the season.
Ingredients (4 servings)
• 4 cups milk
• 1 cups sugar
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 6 egg yolks
• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
• Rum to taste
• Nutmeg to taste
Place 3 cups of milk, the sugar and cinnamon in a pot. Heat. Apart, dissolve the cornstarch and the egg yolks in the rest of the milk and add to the pot. Cook over low heat for several minutes. Cool and add rum to taste. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon before serving.
Top Image: Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright German National Tourism Board/ Jens Wegener
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