A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Hot Toddies to Warm Up a Wintry Night
As the winter winds begin to blow and the temperatures start to drop, there's nothing quite like a steaming hot toddy to warm you up on a cold night. Hot toddies have been a wintertime tradition for centuries, with roots tracing back to Scotland. The combination of liquor, honey or sugar, and hot water creates a comforting elixir that warms you from the inside out.
One of the most classic hot toddy recipes calls for whiskey, honey, lemon, and boiling water. The honey adds a touch of sweetness to temper the bite of the liquor, while the lemon brightens up the flavors. Whiskey packs some serious heat that you’ll feel flowing through your veins. Bourbon is another excellent choice for hot toddies thanks to its sweet, oaky notes. Dark rum can also make a delicious hot toddy, imparting flavors of molasses and vanilla.
If you want to get really festive with your hot toddy, try using a seasonal liquor like peppermint schnapps. The cooling minty flavors pair surprisingly well with steaming hot water. You can also spice up your hot toddy with flavors like cinnamon, clove, star anise, or even a splash of cranberry juice.
One of the best parts about hot toddies is customizing them to your personal tastes.Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of liquor, sweeteners like maple syrup or agave nectar, and aromatic spices. Many people create their own signature hot toddy recipes that they look forward to each winter.
While hot toddies are often associated with Christmas, they are the perfect libation for anytime the temperatures drop and you need a little internal fire. Enjoy hot toddies while watching the first snowflakes flutter down, before heading out to shovel the driveway, or when coming in from a brisk winter walk. The beauty of hot toddies is that they warm you up quickly, so you’ll start feeling that glow in no time.
Hot toddies are also great if you’re feeling under the weather during cold and flu season. The steam can help clear up congestion, while the liquor has soothing properties. Some folks even add extra ingredients like honey, lemon, and ginger to their hot toddies when fighting off a bug.
What else is in this post?
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Hot Toddies to Warm Up a Wintry Night
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Eggnog Variations to Get You in the Holiday Spirit
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Fruity Festive Favorites from the Southern Hemisphere
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Scandinavian Christmas Brews Full of Holiday Cheer
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - South American Holiday Sips Pack a Punch
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Cozying Up with European Christmas Classics
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Asian Holiday Beverages to Awaken Your Senses
- A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Middle Eastern Warming Winter Drinks
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Eggnog Variations to Get You in the Holiday Spirit
For many people, the holidays just wouldn't be complete without a frothy glass of eggnog. This rich, creamy drink has been a Christmas tradition for centuries. While classic eggnog contains eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and liquor, there are endless variations you can try to spice it up. Exploring different eggnog recipes from around the world is a delicious way to get into the holiday spirit.
Instead of brandy, rum, or bourbon, try using wine, champagne, or cognac to give your eggnog a new twist. Dry red wines like Pinot Noir or Merlot add festive fruit flavors. For an indulgent treat, use an ice wine, which will impart notes of apricot and peach. Splash in some bubbly champagne if you're in the mood for a lighter, fizzier nog. And for a touch of French flair, swap out the regular liquor for aromatic cognac.
If you want to go the traditional route with whiskey or rum, experiment with flavors like maple, pumpkin spice, or vanilla. For extra holiday pizazz, rim your glass with nutmeg or cinnamon sugar before pouring in the nog. Garnish your eggnog with cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, or a grating of fresh nutmeg on top. For a Mexican-inspired eggnog, add spices like chile powder or vanilla, whipped egg whites, and a splash of Kahlúa or tequila.
The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to eggnog innovations. Whip up a chocolate eggnog for serious dessert lovers by incorporating cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, or melting in shards of dark chocolate. Or take a tropical twist with coconut milk, rum, and toasted coconut flakes on top. Eggnog lattes are also a creative way to enjoy this festive sipper.
Beyond flavor variations, playing with different textures can also be fun. Some people prefer a thick, creamy eggnog, while others like it lighter and frothier. You can adjust the creaminess by using all heavy cream or swapping in half and half or even milk. Whipping the egg whites into soft peaks beforehand makes for a lighter, airier nog. Thickening it up with a bit of flour or cornstarch results in an ultra-rich sip.
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Fruity Festive Favorites from the Southern Hemisphere
While the northern hemisphere may be covered in snow this time of year, the southern half of the world is basking in the sunny days of summer. And in places like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South America, the warmer weather means fresh, ripe fruit is in abundance. The locals have taken advantage of the bounty of berries, stone fruits, and citrus to create festive fruit-based holiday drinks that offer a refreshing and delicious alternative to traditional winter warmers.
In New Zealand, you’ll find bright pink watermelon pulp swirled into drinks like the Mahana Spritz. This gorgeous concoction combines juicy watermelon, rosé wine, elderflower liqueur, sparkling wine, and basil. The sweet fruit provides an exotic flair that's perfect for sipping on the beach during the holidays. Or try New Zealand’s take on a bubbly Bellini using juicy peaches blended with prosecco for a special Christmas morning treat.
Cherries are another quintessential summer fruit celebrated in holiday drinks down under. Australians mix freshly squeezed lime juice with brandy, Cointreau, and muddled cherries for a Crimson Tide – the ultimate fruity Christmas cocktail. South Africans also utilize their cherry harvest in drinks like the Cherry Delight, made with cherry liqueur, milk, honey, and vanilla.
Brazil’s abundant cashew apples are used to whip up vivacious pink cajuína, a popular non-alcoholic holiday drink. Tart passionfruit is also a Brazilian favorite, mixed into cocktails like the Caipifruta. The national drink of Paraguay, tereré, gets a festive fruity twist when cold mate tea is spiked with pineapple juice and mint for a refreshing pick-me-up on steamy days.
In sweltering Australia, juices from fruits like watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, and kiwi get blended with ice to create delicious smoothies, milkshakes, and ice pops – the perfect way to cool off in the hot summer sun. And the Aussies also break out fruity holiday punches featuring the season’s ripe raspberries, blackberries, mangoes, and lychees.
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Scandinavian Christmas Brews Full of Holiday Cheer
As the days grow darker and colder in Scandinavia, there’s nothing that warms the spirit quite like a steaming mug of holiday “glögg.” This mulled wine is a beloved Yuletide tradition across Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark that captures the coziness of the season.
From its earliest origins in wine-producing Mediterranean countries, mulled wine has become a quintessentially Nordic drink. The Scandinavians have put their distinctive spin on it by incorporating classic warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger. They’ve also customized each country’s version by adding local flavorings.
In Sweden, glögg often contains raisins and blanched almonds along with the wine, spices, and a splash of vodka for good measure. The Danes sometimes include their signature bitters, Gammel Dansk, for a hit of herbaceousness. The Norwegians are known to mix in some aquavit or cognac to their gløgg for extra holiday spirit.
The most unique Scandinavian glögg hails from Finland, where they enrich it with baked apple slices, dried fruit, and citrus zest. But the special Finnish touch comes from adding gingerbread cookies, whose molasses and ginger notes enhance the spiced wine. Floating a few of these leivokset ginger cookies in your glögg makes for the ultimate holiday treat.
Beyond mulled wine, Scandinavians also get festive with their quintessential spirit, aquavit. In Sweden, they enjoy a Christmas-spiced "Jul Aquavit" that features notes of caraway, citrus, anise, and fennel. Sipping this refreshing libation is part of enjoying a traditional Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord feast.
For non-alcoholic options, Scandinavians turn to warm fruit punches spiked with holiday spices. In Sweden, look for saffron-infused lussebullar punch, named after the beloved saffron buns of St. Lucia Day on December 13th. It’s often made from apple juice, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom and served with raisins or nuts.
The Norwegians have perfected the art of the hot spiced ale, known as juleøl. You’ll find this steaming, richly-flavored brew at Christmas markets for enjoying while bundled beneath twinkling lights and gently falling snow. A pornbærtoddy also brings holiday cheer as a Norwegian take on a hot toddy. This popular wintertime drink contains blackcurrant cordial, orange juice, spices, and aquavit for extra yuletide warmth.
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - South American Holiday Sips Pack a Punch
When it comes to holiday libations, South America certainly knows how to turn up the heat. The beverage traditions of this region capture its festive spirit, tropical climate, and punchy flavors. Sipping on these potent potables will instantly transport you from a winter wonderland to a Latin American Christmas fiesta.
In Peru and Bolivia, locals look forward to sipping on their beloved eggnog cocktail known as ponche crema. This thick, spice-infused nog contains Peru's iconic pisco brandy along with milk, sugar, egg yolks, and cinnamon. Adding a couple shots of rum enhances ponche crema's kick. The Peruvians also enjoy chilcano cocktails that mix pisco with ginger ale, lime juice, bitters, and Angostura bitters for a lively Christmas quaff.
Brazilians get their holiday party started with festive concoctions featuring cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice. Caipirinhas are the national cocktail, made by muddling lime and sugar with cachaça. These tropical tipples pair perfectly with Christmas barbecues on Copacabana Beach. For a Christmas Caipirinha, muddle in seasonal fruits like guava or cherries. São Paulo's take on mulled wine combines redução (a syrupy cachaça reduction) with spices and wine for a unique twist.
In Chile and Argentina, vino caliente is a Christmastime classic. Their version of mulled wine uses the regions' famed Malbec and Carménère red varietals mingled with orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and honey or sugar. Adding a splash of the anise-flavored liqueur Licor 43 also livens things up. Sipping vino caliente after an asado barbecue feast is how Argentinians cozy up when the holiday nights turn chilly.
Colombians heat things up for the holidays with their spiked aguapanela. This sugarcane-based drink gets a festive flair from the addition of honey, lime, cloves, cinnamon, and a healthy splash of aguardiente (anise-flavored liquor). For some Christmas Eve revelry, try the Colombian take on a hot toddy, called Canelazo Caliente. It contains aguardiente, sugarcane, and guava to warm you from your head to your toes.
Venezuelans also incorporate sugarcane withpapelón con limón, a punch made from unrefined sugarcane juice, lime juice, cinnamon, and rum. Eggnog isn't spared from Venezuelan flair, as they add rum and fortified wine to their creamy coquito. And on Christmas morning, cafe con leche gets a kick from shots of coffee liqueur and creamy ponche crema.
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Cozying Up with European Christmas Classics
When the holiday season hits, Europeans have perfected the art of cozying up with timeless yuletide drinks. From the comfort of an English pub to an alpine chalet in Switzerland, iconic spiced wines, beers, ciders, and liquors are savored throughout the continent. Sipping these soul-warming libations is how locals celebrate the spirit of the season.
Nothing conjures up the feeling of a Dickensian Christmas quite like wassail. This antioxidant-rich hot mulled cider has warmed people in England since medieval times. Traditionally, large bowls of steaming wassail were passed around and offered to carolers going door to door. Recipes vary, but wassail often contains apple cider, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and brandy or sherry for an extra kick. Sipping this caramel-hued cider is like drinking liquid Christmas.
Germans also have perfected the art of holiday hydration with their beloved wintery brews. Few things feel more festive than grasping a mug of hot glühwein at a bustling Christmas market mid-carol. This aromatic mulled wine beautifully balances sweetness from orange and raisins with spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom. Its warmth seeps through your mittens, thawing frozen fingers and toes. Savoring pretzels dipped in molten chocolate becomes that much sweeter.
Another German yuletide tradition is feuerzangenbowle. Translating to “fire tongs punch,” this show-stopping libation features a flaming rum-soaked sugarloaf “set on fire” and dripped into warm red wine. The theatrical presentation enchants onlookers before they enjoy this decadent treat. Feuerzangenbowle creates a festive ambiance full of cheer and camaraderie, as evidenced by the crowds it draws in holiday markets.
The Swiss also have a gift for holiday imbibing with their Café Viennese, a steamy coffee drink made with espresso and whipped cream. Its origins supposedly trace back to Viennese immigrants who brought this wintertime indulgence to Switzerland. Adding flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, and chocolate make this creamy coffee even more of a Christmas delight. Café Viennese provides sweet comfort that takes the nip out of cold winter nights.
Nothing caps off a heavy French holiday feast quite like sipping cognac or Pineau des Charentes (cognac and grape juice). But for festive flair, many opt for a creamy cup of café viennois topped with Chantilly cream and cinnamon. The French also partake in vin chaud, or mulled wine, typically using red varietals blended with citrus, spices, and a bit of brandy. This vin Rouge packs enough heat to stave off the cold coursing down from the Alps.
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Asian Holiday Beverages to Awaken Your Senses
Savoring aromatic holiday drinks is how many Asian cultures honor the spirit of the season. When winter chill creeps in, warming up with tea-based brews, soothing milky drinks, and steamy punches becomes a daily ritual. Asia's bounty of spices and native fruits transform humble ingredients into complex elixirs that soothe mind, body and soul.
In China, warming wulong tea gets infused with dried fruits and nuts for a nourishing sip. Locals particularly relish osmanthus oolong, made from rare osmanthus blossoms, renowned for their apricot-like aroma. The nutty richness of oolong pairs divinely with osmanthus' honeyed floral notes. Other additions like goji berries, dried longan, and red dates lend this brew a festive flair. Sipping osmanthus oolong whisks you away to ornate teahouses filled with kindred spirits.
The Japanese also revere steaming mugs of genmaicha green tea amped up for the holidays. Toasted rice kernels augment this tea's natural vegetal flavors with lovely nutty undertones. Come Christmastime, locals mix in holiday spices like cinnamon and dried mandarin peels. The Japanese often enjoy hot sakes infused with ginger or herbs to stimulate warmth. And what better way to celebrate than with a hot mug of amazake, a sweet low-alcohol sake made from fermented rice. Its subtly sweet, creamy flavors conjure up images of huddling around cozy kotatsus.
In India, masala chai symbolizes the generosity of the season via spice and milk. Cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and ginger mingle with black tea and milk for a soul-stirring brew. Masala chai incites connection, especially when served in tiny terracotta cups. Its lingering flavors and fragrant steam encapsulate the holiday spirit. India's bounty of fruits also get pulped into nourishing pudina ka sharbat, or mint lemonade, given a Christmas twist with berries.
Thais fuse functionality with flair in their holiday drinks, like taeng moh fak thong. This invigorating punch combines dried pineapple, ginger root, lemongrass, and peppers with honey and lime. The medley of sweet, tart and spicy flavors provides a welcome vitality boost during long holiday festivities. Its golden hue and floating fruits spread cheer chockfull of Vitamin C. And in Laos, things get merry and bright with spiked fruit punches featuring papaya and sticky rice. Their vibrant pinkish hue resembles Santa's suit.
A Yuletide Tour: Sipping 13 Festive Holiday Drinks from Around the Globe - Middle Eastern Warming Winter Drinks
The Middle East may conjure up images of scorching deserts, but winter brings brisk temperatures that require some warming up. Luckily, the region’s beverage traditions have perfected the art of blending spices, fruits, nuts and teas into soul-soothing hot drinks for the cold season. Sipping these steaming elixirs summons the hospitality and conviviality that embodies the holidays in this part of the world.
Yemen’s signature wintertime sip is qishr, a coffee-based drink bursting with warm spices. Qishr starts with an aromatic base of coffee husks, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon that simmers for hours to extract maximum flavor. This infusion gets combined with ginger, saffron and sugar for a comforting yet exotically-spiced brew. Qishr’s lingering perfume and muddy brown hue beckons you to gather around the hearth.
The Levant keeps the chill at bay with soothing sahlab, a milk-based drink thickened with orchid powder. Sahlab gets its quintessential wintry flair from mastic resin, cinnamon, ginger and coconut flakes. This velvety beverage warms you through and through, transporting you to chaotic alleys strung with glittering lights. Locals pass around small sahlab cups as gifts of holiday indulgence.
Iranians have mastered the craft of herbal tea infusions, perfect for frosty nights. Their kakush sherbeti features the earthy flavors of cumin, coriander, parsley and fenugreek mingling with sour plum juice and sugar into a steaming punch. Its golden hue and floating parsley summon images of gatherings by the fireplace. Saffron, cardamom and rosewater also make frequent appearances in Iranian holiday teas for their mood-lifting aromas.
The Turks rely on salep, a soothing drink made from wild orchid tubers, to get through harsh Anatolian winters. Salep’s hallmark creamy texture comes from the starchy tubers, which thicken the milk. Spices like cinnamon, pistachios and rosewater provide comfort with every sip. Vendors roaming the streets with piping hot salep urns keep locals warm as they go about holiday bustle.