Holiday Drinks From Around the World
To many, the holidays represent an opportunity to have a pilgrimage home to visit family and friends. While you sip on egg nog this December, consider these alternative holiday beverages derived from cultures and customs around the world.
Ponche de Frutas de Guatemala
Hot fruit punch is enjoyed throughout the winter in Guatemala, and in most cases, on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). This sweet concoction contains a variety of things such as pineapple, apple, papaya, orange, dried fruits, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and rum for a boozy version.
Recipe: Antigua Daily
Photo: Rudy Giron
Feel warm and fuzzy inside as you watch the devil go down in flames at the La Quema del Diablo ceremony (translated: burning of the devil).
Photo: Latin Post
Salep is a Turkish winter drink made by simmering the powder from wild orchids with milk and sugar.
Recipe: Turkish Sahlep, Serious Eats
If visiting Istanbul, Emirgan Sütiş is a popular restaurant to try Salep. It is also commonly served by street vendors in traditional copper urns, and is a great accessory to viewing the city’s amazing mosques.
Photo: Just Visiting Blog
Sujeonggwa is a Korean persimmon punch typically enjoyed as part of dessert, and in particular, to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 1st. Persimmons are heated and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and honey, then strained and garnished with pine nuts.
Recipe: Sujeonggwa Dessert Punch, Maangchi
The Mt. Seorak region in South Korea offers several winter activities including skiing and year-round outdoor water parks, where you can take in both natural beauty and views of Shinheungsa Temple.
The hibiscus sabdariffa plant, also known as roselle, blooms bright red flowers in December, which are mixed with spices, lemon juice and rum to create Jamaican Sorrel.
Recipe: Festive Jamaican Sorrel, Cook like a Jamaican
If visiting Jamaica over the holidays, sip Sorrel and watch a Junkanoo celebration, which is full of colorful yet scary costumes and dancing in the streets.
Wassail is a mulled English beverage typically made with apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg sugar, and ale, and is served in a large silver or pewter bowl. The Anglo-Saxon phrase 'waes hael', translates to 'good health,' which is returned with shouts of 'drinc hael,' which means drink and be healthy.'
Recipe: Traditional English Wassail, Lavender and Lovage
Wassail is not only a beverage, it is also the act of singing. Wassailers gathered historically to celebrate the apple harvest, join in song, and drink something warm while strolling through chilly winter towns such as Shaftesbury, Dorset:
A well known wassailing song:
glühwein / vino navegado / gløgg
Hot wine and mulled wine are common winter drinks in many regions. Glühwein is sipped at Christmas markets across western europe. South America’s vino navegado is like a hot sangria made with red wine, fruit, orange juice and spices. Gløgg is a scandinavian drink seasoned with cardamom and caraway seeds, and may also have aquavit.
In addition to holiday markets, a cozy ski lodge is the perfect place to enjoy mulled wine this winter, and St. Anton’s MooserWirt has some serious Après-Ski game:
Kissel is a red fruit drink typically made from raspberries, cranberries or currants that can also be served as a soup. The beverage version is most popular in Russia and Ukraine.
Christmas is a national holiday in Russia, and cities like St. Petersburg celebrate with fireworks, holiday markets, and light decorations.
Poppy Seed Milk
Poppy milk is a Lithuanian holiday beverage made from poppy seeds, water and honey, and is enjoyed during kūčios, a traditional Lithuanian Christmas Eve supper.
Cathedral square in Vilnius is a magical place to celebrate the next day.
Photo: The Whig
Rompope was invented by colonial nuns and is enjoyed on special occasions in Mexico. This combination of milk, eggs, sugar, almonds, spices and either rum or aguardiente is typically served over ice, but a similar version is served warm in Nicaragua.
There is much to see in Mexico during the holidays, including festive light shows, seasonal flowers and pinatas, and live reenactments of the nativity scene.
Photo: Just Food Now
Coquito is a thick Puerto Rican beverage made with sweetened condensed, evaporated milk, coconut milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and rum.
Recipe: Always Order Dessert
Three Kings Day is the most celebrated holiday in Puerto Rico. Watch a parade during the day and see vibrant decorations in the main parts of town, such as Plaza Colón of Mayaguez.
The most common Catalan holiday drink is red wine or cava, but there is very distinct catalonian nativity decoration called the Caganer. It’s a guy crapping, a decoration with a relatively unknown explanation. The Telegraph has an impressive slide show of Caganers, and the Maremagnum Shopping Centre recently achieve a Guinness World Record for Largest Caganer:
Photo: Latin Post
If reading about all these drinks have got you in the traveling mood, the holidays are a great time to travel! Viator is your one-stop shop to finding and booking deals around the globe for activities and adventure. Want some heat in this cold winter? Go down to Central and South America to sip up some of their drinks while soaking up the sun. Longing for snow? Head to Europe to sip authentic Glögg, cozy by the fireside.