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Christmastime Is (Hic) Here

Now it’s time to talk about Christmas libations. The Smithsonian’s food blog has a feature about holiday beers and other seasonal drinks [1], including glogg:

The Swedish rendition of mulled wine, glögg, or gløgg, is a keyboard nightmare—so we’re going to call it glogg. Red wine, orange peel, cloves and cardamom are the essential ingredients of this Christmastime drink, though some versions contain additions like sugar, cinnamon sticks, brandy and Port wine. My own preference is for something heavily spiced but on the drier side. Glogg can be purchased ready-made in bottles, but the drink is so easy—and, at the risk sounding cheesy, fun and festive—to make that not stewing up your own would just be silly. Try this recipe [2]. The wine (it needn’t be expensive) is heated slowly in a cauldron with orange slices, whole cloves and cardamom powder bathing in the drink. These and other ingredients’ flavors leech into the wine, and the warm aromas fill the house. Now, before your company arrives, get the pronunciation down: That funny “o” is, in fact, pronounced like the double “o” in hook, making glogg actually more like “glug.” Which allows you, as host, to look from guest to guest to guest as you take drink orders and suggest, “Glug? Glug? Glug?” Mulled wine just isn’t the same.

I like glogg, or gluhwein (whatever), okay, but it’s not my favorite thing to drink at Christmas. That would be bubbly white wine. Champagne is too expensive, but Eileen at Calandro’s [3] on Government Street hooked me up with a fantastically dry, affordable prosecco.  [4] There will be bubbles on Christmas chez moi.

My friend James sent me a Cherry The Dive Bar Girl [5] recipe for Mai Tais, which I am adapting into a Christmas punch for our celebration tomorrow. I don’t like things too sweet, so I’m going to serve this in glasses, but cut mine with seltzer:

Mai Tai Recipe

2 oz orange juice
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz Rose’s lime juice
1 oz dark rum
½ oz light rum
½ oz coconut rum
½ oz triple sec
1 splash grenadine

Mix, serve over ice in a highball glass.  Garnish with shaved coconut, pineapple slices, cherries, and a cocktail umbrella.

Want to make a ½ gallon? Every time you see oz, substitute cup.  2 oz of orange juice becomes 2 cups of orange juice.

I’m going to use fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice instead of lime juice, and vodka and Kraken spiced rum instead of light and coconut rum. There will be maraschino cherries, for sure. Now, if you’re sitting in snow on Christmas day, this punch will sound strange, I suppose. But it’s going to be in the seventies tomorrow here, until the storms move through, plunging our temperature down to freezing. At which point we can switch to red wine, if necessary. Your Working Boy remains at the ready to make sweetish whisky drinks — Rob Roys, Manhattans, and Old Fashioneds — once the weather outside turns frightful.

There will be dark rum-spiked mugs of hot chocolate also.

What are you serving to drink on Christmas? Come to think of it, I should lay in some beer too. Among the dishes we’ll be serving to our guests are savory pies — chicken pot pie, lamb and mint pie, and beef and ale pie — all of which call for lager, or maybe an IPA. OK, off to the store…

UPDATE: David Rieff sent out his annual LIVRE SANS NOM today, and it contains this excellent and cheering remark:

“In the little moment that remains to us between the crisis and the catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of Champagne.

—  Paul Claudel, then France’s ambassador to Washington, to a group of American officials at a reception at the embassy in 1931 (told by Claud Cockburn).

18 Comments (Open | Close)

18 Comments To "Christmastime Is (Hic) Here"

#1 Comment By Sam M On December 24, 2012 @ 9:44 am


It would appear that you need some boilo. Not familiar? It’s some kind of high-octane, hometown holiday brew churned out in PA coal country. Now a local is trying to bag it and sell it. Interesting story here:


Boilo is the best name for a drink. People can stop trying to come up with new ones now.

[Note from Rod: Don’t you imagine that Boilo is Bilbo’s drunkard cousin? I like to imagine Boilo at the Baggins family Christmas party, starting fights, weeping, hanging all over everybody, cussing the feckin’ dwarves, etc. — RD]

#2 Comment By Adam DeVille On December 24, 2012 @ 9:53 am

Dry Prosecco is the way to go (especially with Calabrese in-laws). We had some last week with lemony creamy shrimp pasta and it paired very nicely. As for cocktails: Like you I don’t like sweet drinks, so I found a quite decent cranberry cocktail (I’m a cranberry fanatic): Boil gently for about 15 min: 3c of fresh cranberries with 1c sugar, the peel from two limes, and a cup of champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar. Discard the lime peel and puree the berry mixture in a food processor or food mill, and then strain the solids out. Cool and serve with equal parts club soda and vodka or gin–ice optional.

#3 Comment By Sharon Astyk On December 24, 2012 @ 10:05 am

What do Jews eat (and drink) on Christmas? Chinese food, of course, and what goes with Chinese food but gewurtztraminer?

Our community tradition of movies and Chinese food has gotten big (40 people) all at our house. Cooking real Szechuan food out of Fuschia Dunlop’s _Land of Plenty_ plus some milder stuff for the weenies. White wine galore, and probably hot spiced cider with dessert (with applejack for the grownups) along with our traditional Chanukah Buche ;-).


#4 Comment By Matty K On December 24, 2012 @ 10:15 am

I like glögg, but it gets to be a little much a little too quick for me.
For sparkling wines I’ve come to appreciate Cava wines for their value and quality as compared to California bubbly.
Bu what Christmas is really all about is St. Bernadin’s Christmas Ale. One of the world’s great beers. And really, there are tons of wonderful seasonal beers by American craft brewers.

#5 Comment By M_Young On December 24, 2012 @ 11:11 am

“I’m going to use fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice instead of lime juice, and vodka and Kraken spiced rum instead of light and coconut rum. ”

What else would one expect from a Rolling Stones fan? The mitigating factor is that the ‘original’ recipe you are working from is rubbish. If it doesn’t call for orgeat, it isn’t a mai tai.

“The Swedish rendition of mulled wine, glögg, or gløgg, is a keyboard nightmare”

Yes, especially after 3-4.

“so we’re going to call it glogg.”

Oh, yet another ‘verbally-oriented’ person who can’t seem to get the concept of pressing the ‘option’/ ‘alt graph’ key and another letter at the same time. It’s not hard folks — try it, the ∞ joy of extended ASCI is there for ¥ü.

#6 Comment By TJ On December 24, 2012 @ 11:24 am

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Christmas Ale!

#7 Comment By Caroline Nina in DC On December 24, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

Our signature Christmas drink is a Puerto Rican eggnog called coquito. Way back when we were courting, my now-husband and I got the recipe from former NPR and now NewsHour host Ray Suarez, who had a chapter in a book called Las Christmas about Latino-American Christmas traditions. You take a can of coconut milk, a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups very cold rum and four egg yolks–I think it’s four–and then blend it and top with freshly grated nutmeg.

#8 Comment By AJG On December 24, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

Winter White Ale and Christmas Ale from Bells, and some Snowday from New Belgium, and maybe some Sierra Nevada Celebration fresh hop IPA. Mmmmm…beer.

#9 Comment By pjsmoov On December 24, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

How about iced tea? It’s 77 degrees in southeast Louisiana. I have the air conditioning on. Certainly feels like Christmas.

#10 Comment By The Mighty Favog On December 24, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

Gewurtztraminer is wonderful, as I imagine is grogg, but to this half-redneck, half-French Louisiana boy, I need me some bourbon.

Some pousse café, no doubt, lay in my immediate future, too. (The beverage of choice for the wide-awake drunk.) I’m talking about pousse café in the Cajun sense of the drink — strong, dark-roast coffee with some bourbon in it — not the layered libation.

As it so happens, there’s a couple of waiting fifths of Jim Beam with my name on them. No, I won’t be consuming them all at once, as alluring as that might be (until the next morning, that is).

Joyeux (hic!) Nöel, y’all!

#11 Comment By jaybird On December 24, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

I’ve done a similar thing with cider and red wine, mulled with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg… drank a lot of that this fall… maybe I’ll try the orange peel glögg recipe tomorrow…

Other than that, I will be pounding vodka shots and eating un-consecrated communion wafers with my Polak relatives tonight…


#12 Comment By Fred On December 24, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

At the beginning of every football season I know it’s time to brew my Christmas barleywine. It’s a highly hopped behemoth and has honey, ginger, cinnamon, and clove added to it, but just enough to hint they’re there. Usually clocks in around 9.5 – 10% ABV. I offer it anytime someone come’s over to visit in December.

Other than that, it’s bourbon (Maker’s Mark or Booker’s) and single malt (Ardbeg or Lagavulin) for me during the holidays. And, of course, any decent red wine that gets opened.

#13 Comment By Dennis On December 24, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

Christmas Tuborg and Carlsberg are quite good also; especially if you take the bus out to Christiania (no tax; same beer, cheaper than in central Copenhagen) 🙂

#14 Comment By Erik On December 24, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

Alcohol is a scourge on humanity. I prefer a small amount of sacramental cannabis to feel the joy and meaning of Christmas.

#15 Comment By JonF On December 24, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

Chambord with soda.

I’m alone for Christmas this year, but don’t anyone waste a scintilla of sympathy because I’m delighted with that. I’ll do church in the morning and there’s a small snacks potluck afterward, but otherwise I’m going to hibernate luxuriously. I’ve worked a miserable amount the last few weeks and I’m happy to have a day where I won’t even have errands to run.

Merry Christmas to all.

#16 Comment By Jeffersonian On December 24, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

An Italian muscato and a California reisling, tea with lemon, tea with honey, tea with lemon and honey, tea with honey and milk, tea with sugar and milk, and cranberry juice. And then some chai, if I have any left.

#17 Comment By M_Young On December 25, 2012 @ 12:01 am

I’m finally able to report, as we spent the day at my parents.

Cocktails: to each his own is our rule, and on this occasion we gathered at my folks house. As I was making some fruit bars (think mini fruitcakes) in my Mom’s kitchen, I made myself a highball with from the leftovers of the Bourbon (Evan Williams — the cheapest that comes in a glass bottle, but not at all bad and perfectly adequate for cooking) which had been used to steep the glace cherries. Plus, of course, some of the ‘liquor’ which the bourbon+cherries had produced. Think ‘adult roy rogers’. I’d like to say the ginger ale was some artisan brand produced by hipsters in Silverlake, but it was Seagrams.

Wine: Well, my parents are from Brooklyn (some Youngs went west, some the wrong way), we had pasta. First bottle was a [8]. This is what my father calls ‘Guinea Red’ , but good Guinea Red. Dry, as you would expect (and want) from a Chianti, but more fruit than normal (esp. for a bottle under $10.00) and I seemed to detect a little oak. Bottle two was ‘Rex Goliath’ Pinot. This seems to be a firm that bottles bulk Italian wine here in the US. Still, pretty good value for money. Was pretty darn good with my fruit bars. (Wine and fruitcake type baked goods is always a winner.) As there was a still some Even Williams, I made my significant other a perfect Manhattan, and I had the rest of the bottle on the rocks.

And while perhaps it would be more appropriate for me to be in the [9], it’s off to do my filial obligation, my C & E mass, which thankfully my mother’s parish finishes at midnight. For [10] and all that. Merry Christmas to all, especially JonF — I’ve spent a few alone, can be a lonely but also a good time for reflection.

#18 Comment By Todd On December 25, 2012 @ 1:38 am

I’m with m young. Orgeat is required for any true Mai Tai. Rod’s recipe is an improvement over the original certainly. With the possible exception of a gimlet, fresh citrus juice is always better than Rose’s.

A classic Mai Tai: 1 oz gold rum, 1 oz aged dark rum (Jamaican or Guyanan are best), 3/4 oz fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz Grand Marnier (or other orange curaçao), 1/2 oz orgeat. Shake. Strain into highball glass filled with ice. Garnish festively.