One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is by toasting with a traditional cocktail. In the U.S., we typically cozy up with a glass of spiked eggnog at Christmastime and sip Champagne on New Year’s Eve. Let’s take a trip around the world to see how other cultures salute the holiday.
With a name that translates to “little coconut,” this cocktail originated in Puerto Rico. Coquito calls for coconut milk, condensed milk, vanilla, rum and your preference of warm spices. Cinnamon and nutmeg are both popular choices. Some recipes call for egg yolk, but this is not part of coquito’s traditional preparation. After all of the ingredients are blended together, the mixture should be refrigerated for at least an hour. Although many recipe variations can be found online, coquito is special because of the recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Many Puerto Rican households make it in large batches so they can give bottles as gifts.
Sweet Scandinavian Glögg
In Sweden and Norway, a version of mulled wine called glögg is consumed as a celebratory cocktail. Often served warm, glögg doesn’t include fresh fruit like other mulled wines. Instead, almonds and raisins are incorporated to soak up the alcohol. This cocktail is prepared with red wine, vodka, cinnamon sticks, cloves, dried ginger, cardamom pods, orange peels, raisins, almonds, caster sugar and vanilla sugar. Think of glögg as a winter sangria.
A Glass of Glühwein
Germany also has a traditional mulled wine that is consumed during the holidays It’s called Glühwein. This red wine cocktail is more like sangria with the use of oranges and holiday spices. Star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves can all be found in this cocktail. Take it up a notch by mixing in rum or amaretto. Though Germans tend to stick to tradition, many other cultures prepare a version of Glühwein with different spices. Vanilla, ginger or black pepper give the holiday classic a new leg.
Traditional Ponche Navideño
In Mexico, a holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without Ponche Navideño. This punch can be served in a huge bowl or portioned into wine glasses, depending on the formality of the holiday celebration. With water as the base, traditional ingredients include, but aren’t limited to, cinnamon sticks, apples, guava, oranges and pears. You can make an adults-only version with your preferred spirit included or keep it as a mocktail. What sets this punch apart is the addition of tamarind pods, which add a sweet and sour flavor to the mix, and tejocotes for a tart apple taste.
These holiday cocktails from around the world will add a bit more sugar and spice to your celebrations this year. Whether you stick to a traditional preparation or make it your own with additional ingredients, you will still be celebrating a cultural festivity.