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7 Winter Drinks & How to Make them Abroad

18 December, 2013 09:45  Erin Erin

Certain smells, sights and tastes can evoke strong emotional responses and these sensations can be further heightened during the holidays. The smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree, the sight of all of your family in one place, or the taste of your favorite winter drink can all spark feelings of homesickness.

While many experiences are difficult to recreate abroad, some things are obtainable. We are sharing seven favorite winter drinks from around the world to warm you up - mind, body and soul.

GlühweinGlühwein mug

This ubiquitous German Christmas market drink does its best to warm the drinker as they peruse the many, many Christmas markets in every German city. A mulled wine, it is served hot in market-specific mugs that can be kept for the price of the deposit.

Generally composed of red wine, traditionally port and claret, it is seasoned with various spices and is drunk as soon as the weather grows cold till the end of winter.

Glühwein goes by many other names and variations around the globe and the name often translates to a version of "hot wine".

  • Czech Republic's Svar'ené vino
  • Brazil's Quentão or Vinho quente - Found mostly in the south and southeast becuase of the large amount of European immigrants that moved here. It is typically made with red wine, cachaça, cinnamon sticks and cloves. It is served as part of the Festa Junina, celebrated during winter in the month of June.
  • Bulgaria's Greyano vino
  • France's Vin chaud - The French intentionally commit a faux paux and serve their wine hot (typically the cheap red wine variety) mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon.
  • Hungary's Forralt bor - Typically made from the country's popular Egri Bikavér and spiced with cinnamon, sugar and cloves.
  • Northern Italy's vin brulé
  • Latvia's Karstvins - Prepared using grape (or currant) juice and Riga Black Balsam.
  • Macedonia's Vareno vino or greeno vino - The wine heated in a combination with pepper is used as a prevention from flu or cold.
  • Netherlands' Bisschopswijn - Literally "bishop's wine", usually uses oranges instead of lemons as an ingredient.
  • Poland's Grzane wino - There is also a similar method for preparing mulled beer or grzane piwo, often made with Belgian beers.
  • Portugal's Vinho quente - Mainly in the Douro and Minho Provinces made with Madeira wine and Port wine, in the Porto region Porto Quente is more popular.
  • Romania's Vin fiert
  • Turkey's Sicak Sarap

German Glühwein Recipe You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

Throughout Germany and much of Europe, Glühwein mix or bottles of the good stuff can be purchased in grocery stores, but if you are living in a country where the drink is unusual, you may need a little help preparing your own.

3/4 cup water (or orange juice)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
10 cloves
1 bottle red wine (use local cheap wine for hybrid version)

  1. Combine water/orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer.
  3. Cut the orange in half, and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the orange peel and place in simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes until it is thick and syrupy.
  4. Pour in wine and heat until steaming slightly. Remove the orange peel.
  5. Serve hot!

Hot Toddy

Also known as a "hot totty" or "hot tottie", there is no doubt that this is a fun drink to say. Once believed to be medicinal, it was encouraged to drink it before bed in wet or cold weather.

The phrase has been expanded in recent years to include almost any hot mixed drink, but the original drink was Scottish and prepared as a mixture of whisky, boiling water and sugar or honey. You can also add cloves, a slice of lemon or cinnamon for added flavor or go English on it by adding black tea.

Hot Toddy Recipe You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

2 ounces whiskey or rum or brandy if you are going non-traditional (you can add more for "flavor"!)
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
4 ounces hot water
1 slice fresh lemon
Cloves and cinnamon stick(optional)

  1. Put the honey and whisky in a mug. Add two cloves and half a cinnamon stick.
  2. Top with not quite boiling water.
  3. Stir in a slice of lemon and let stand for 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle and for it to cool enough to drink.

EggnogEgg Nog

With origins in the UK, this drink has become the Christmas drink in North America. It seems that half of the population of the United States and Canada are quick to purchase eggnog as soon as it arrives on grocery shelves, while the other half gag at the thought.

This opinion-dividing drink is traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs giving it a frothy texture. To make it more spirited, brandy, rum, whisky, or bourbon can be added and it may be garnished with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin spice. As it is a high-fat, high-cholesterol drink, there are many modified versions on the market with lower fat, egg-substitute, dairy-free, etc.

The drink was even the source of 20 court-martials in The Eggnog Riot. Taking place at the United States Military Academy on December 23rd – 25th in 1826, whiskey was smuggled into the barracks for a Christmas Day party and things got out-of control!

Eggnog Recipe You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups light rum
4 cups light cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  1. Combine milk, cloves, 1 tsp vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan.
  2. Heat on the lowest setting for 5 minutes and slowly bring it to a boil making sure it doesn't burn.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until fluffy.
  4. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs.
  5. Pour mixture back into saucepan.
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil!
  7. Strain to remove cloves. Cool for about an hour.
  8. Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg.
  9. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Ponche Navideño

A hot, fruit punch from Mexico offers a different flavor for winter. Prepared in a cauldron, every family has their own variation but the drink generally contains fresh fruit, walnuts, raisins, and piloncillo (solid cane sugar).

The sweet and acidic tejocote is hard to find outside of Mexico, but you can find the jarred variety in in some Latin American grocery stores or you may need to have it shipped to you. Like many of these drinks, you can add rum or brandy to make it an adult beverage.

Ponche Navideño Recipe You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

10 quarts drinking water
8-10 tejocotes
2 tamarind pods
3 lbs sugar cane or piloncillo or regular sugar
6 guavas, 1 cup green apples, peeled and chopped, 2 pears, peeled and chopped, 4 oranges juiced (use fruits in season in your area)
1 tsp ground cloves
8 oz chopped walnuts
2 cinnamon sticks
1 pint of brandy or rum (optional)

  1. Soak the tamarinds and tejocotes in hot water for about an hour.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a very large pot, than reduce to a slow simmer.
  3. Take the tamarind and tejocotes out. Remove the brittle shells from the tamarind, and squeeze out the seeds from the pulp. Cut the tejocotes into quarters and remove the skin. Add the tamarind pulp and the tejocotes to the simmering water.
  4. Chop the sugar cane into chunks (remove the outer skin if it has it) and add in. (Add sugar and stir to dissolve if using regular sugar.)
  5. Add in remaining ingredients (except for alcohol) and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve each cup with the chunks of fruit.
  7. Optional: Add alcohol to each serving.

Tim Tam Slam

The Tim Tam Slam is a snack and drink in one. These cookies are highly coveted outside of  Australia and New Zealand and can occasionally be found in Canada, USA and Hong Kong. Many a care package of cookies have made their way around the world.

Tim Tam Slam You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

Aficionados frown on the use of other cookies and it is hard to find something that melts like a Tim Tam, but if you get desperate you can experiment. (Share your suggestions in the comments!)

Once you've located a suitable cookie and a hot drink of tea, cocoa or coffee, it is time to slam. Nibble off two cross-corners of the cookie on the diagonal and dip one corner into the hot drink. Now slurp the drink through the cookie like a straw and eat the partly melted cookie, like so:


This highly-alcoholic elixir usually consists of red wine, vodka, cardamom, cinnamon, orange peel, sugar, blanched almond slivers, and raisins. Similar to mulled wine, this drink is a product of Nordic countries like Sweden (Glögg), Norway and Denmark (Gløgg) and Estonia and Finland (Glögi).

Variations include white wine or sweet wine such as Port or Madeira and spirits like brandy or whisky. In place like Sweden, ginger bread and lussebullar (sweet bun with saffron and raisins) are typically served.

Glögg Recipe You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

1 bottle of red wine
0.5 Liter inexpensive vodka (or brandy or whisky)
10 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 orange peel (dried or fresh)
1/2 lbs sugar
5 cloves, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup almonds, 5 dried figs (optional)

  1. Gently simmer the red wine (optional: with almonds and raisins)
  2. Wrap orange peel, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves in cheesecloth, tie with kitchen string and put into pot.
  3. Stir in spirits and sugar, stirring to completely dissolve the sugar.
  4. Remove spice bag. Serve hot in cups with a few almonds and raisins.

Masala Chai

This spiced black tea is strong and rich, steeped in hot milk and water that has been flavored with green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and peppercorns.

Available throughout India from chai wallah (street vendors), the drink is also popular in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and its modified version has made its way around the world with international vendors like Starbucks. Get a taste of the original by making your own.

Masala Chai Recipe You Can Make (Almost) Anywhere

2 cups water
1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. loose black tea

  1. Bring water, ginger, pepper, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add milk and sugar to the pan and bring back to a boil.
  3. Remove pan from heat and add the loose black tea. Cover and let steep for at least 3 minutes. You can leave it on for longer if you prefer a stronger brew.
  4. Strain into warmed teapot or cup.


Do you have a favorite winter drink, hard to find ingredient or recipe? Share it in the comments or in the forum.

Also check out "How Expats Celebrate Christmas Around the World" and "Christmas Stories from Expats".



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