Christmas Drinks from Around the World

These days, there are all types of beverages—some garnished with candy canes and tinsel—that are passed off as Christmas drinks. But in our book, there is only one thing you should be imbibing this time of year: punch.

We’re not alone: A surprising number of countries have their own signature Christmas punches. Though they range widely in ingredients and flavors, these concoctions share a convivial spirit and, most importantly, satisfy a crowd.

For example, in Scandinavia, where winters are long, dark and bitterly cold, the hardy inhabitants of the region thaw out with bowls of boozy Glögg. Our recipe for the hot, spiced elixir of wine, fruit and often vodka comes from chef Marcus Jernmark of New York’s acclaimed restaurant Aquavit, which also includes port.

But not all Christmas drinks are served warm. In Puerto Rico, chilled glasses of Coquito are ubiquitous at celebrations. The seasonal tipple is a rich mix of coconut cream and rum that’s simultaneously Christmas-y and tropical.

Here in America, there is an array of Yuletide drinking traditions, from Eggnog to Mulled Wine. We think that the Tom & Jerry deserves to be known better. Invented in England in the 1820s (it predates the cartoon cat and mouse by more than a century), the combination of eggs, sugar and milk with both cognac and rum is popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota but nearly unheard-of outside the Upper Midwest.

Another one to consider making is the tequila-based Ponche Navideño (pictured above) from Mexico. It’s a tart and spicy concoction of stewed fruit, tamarind and walnuts. Our authentic recipe, from bartender Will Duncan of the aptly named Punch House in Chicago, calls for guava and tejocote, a native Mexican fruit also known as manzanita or Mexican hawthorn.

The best part? Christmas is 19 days away, which means there’s more than enough time to fix all four of these delicious punches. Cheers!

Ponche Navideño

Contributed by Will Duncan
INGREDIENTS:

  • .5 oz Reposado tequila
  • 1 oz Brandy
  • 3 to 5 oz Ponche Base,* hot
  • Glass: Mug

PREPARATION:
Add all the ingredients to a mug and stir briefly.

*Ponche Base
INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 qt Water
  • 8 Tamarind pods, shelled
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp Pink peppercorns
  • 2 Star anise pods
  • 1 tsp Whole cloves
  • 4 oz Dried hibiscus flowers (AKA flor de jamaica)
  • 1 (8-inch) piece Sugar cane, peeled and cut into straws
  • 10 Guavas, quartered
  • 16 Tejocotes, seeded
  • 1 Apple, cubed
  • 1 Pear, cubed
  • 1 cup Toasted walnuts
  • 5 cups Brown sugar

PREPARATION:
In a large pot, bring the water and tamarind pods to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain through a mesh strainer, pressing the tamarind to push as much pulp as possible through the mesh. Return the strained mixture to the heat and bring to a simmer. Tie the cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, cloves and hibiscus into a cheesecloth bundle and add to the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle, and keep the mixture warm on the stove or in a slow cooker.

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Comments

  1. Tejocotes cost an arm around here and I need both my arms to mix drinks. Any substitutions?

    • Tejocotes are actually quite similar to crabapples—if you have a tree in your yard, you can use those. If not, you can substitute regular apples. Pick a tart variety, and use about four apples in place of the 16 tejocotes.

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