FOOD

I Celebrated The Holidays Like A Jet-Setter With These 5 International Cocktails

by Angela Andaloro

The holidays are all about tradition, but do you ever stop and think about what the holiday season looks like around the world?

People from different places each have their own holiday customs that we rarely hear about. For the most part, you spend your whole life celebrating in one particular way and never think about all the other ways it’s done.

I’m not much of a traveler (thanks to a slew of phobias), but I am still interested in exploring different customs and cultural experiences. Instead of hopping on a plane, I hopped online to figure out what people around the world typically drink during the holiday season.

After all, booze transcends language and culture and finds a place in all kinds of celebrations! I’ve never really been one for specialty drinks. I usually stick to my own drinking rules: tequila for when it’s hot out and whiskey for when it’s cold out. As I researched what typical holiday drinks looked like around the world, I realized everyone else’s holiday habits veer far from mine.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of these recipes struck me as strange. For one thing, many of the drinks involved rum, which I’d always associated with tropical summery drinks, tiny umbrella and all. There were also a lot of drinks that involved bourbon or brandy, which are liquors I’m less familiar with personally and sound more like they belong in decanters inside the grand libraries of old mansions. It gave the beverages an air of the upscale, which was intriguing for sure.

As I read through them, I absolutely had my doubts. I seriously questioned how people could enjoy some of these mixtures, but it’s that curiosity and lack of understanding that sealed the deal for me. I had to try these drinks and see what they were all about. That’s how I ended up “drinking around the world” with these five international holiday cocktails.

1. Coquito

1. Coquito
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While a lot of these drinks were unfamiliar to me, I decided to start out with a holiday mainstay of my own.

Coquito is Puerto Rico’s answer to eggnog, packed with coconut flavor. Following Que Rica Vida‘s recipe, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 4 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 oz. can coconut cream
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white rum

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Making coquito is pretty simple, despite the fact that it’s often regarded as an old family secret. Simply mix all the ingredients but the rum, then add the rum, then mix again until everything is smooth and a bit frothy.

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Next up, pour the coquito into an airtight glass container. Be sure to refrigerate for at least two hours before serving!

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Fast-forward a few hours and I was sipping my coquito, feeling like it was Christmas in paradise.

2. Coffee Grog With Brandy

2. Coffee Grog With Brandy
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This Scandinavian holiday beverage combines coffee and brandy in a way that I imagined to be comparable to a hot toddy.

I followed Fine Dining Lovers‘ recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 13.5 fl. oz. hot coffee
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract if you can’t find it)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tbsps. brandy

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This recipe didn’t give me pause until I started making it. I didn’t blink twice at eggs because eggnog is a thing, and I figured this would be somewhat similar. It just didn’t occur to me that pieces of the egg would cook — ew.

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I couldn’t get myself to drink it with egg bits floating around, and I certainly couldn’t ask anyone else to, either. Thankfully, I found a slotted spoon to help me out.

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Once it was looking better — and less eggy — I added the brandy. A quick stir and a sip and… nope.

The initial taste was all coffee, which might be appealing to some but isn’t to me. The brandy aftertaste didn’t make matters better. On the bright side, it somehow didn’t taste like egg.

3. Buttered Rum

3. Buttered Rum
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Although this is usually touted as a US tradition, hot buttered rum actually originated in Jamaica. The British picked up on the beverage when invading Jamaica and spread the recipe as their own during colonization. It seems to be pretty popular, but I’d actually never heard of it. I imagined it to be something like butterbeer.

I followed this recipe from American Food Roots. You’ll need:

  • 1 stick butter (4 oz.), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup vanilla or gingersnap ice cream, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 oz. rum
  • Cinnamon stick and/or star anise (for garnish)

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First, mix all the butter, sugars, and spices together. Then add the softened ice cream and mix again. Transfer the batter to a freezer-safe container. Freeze the batter until you’re ready to make your drink.

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When you’re ready for your hot buttered rum, boil a cup of water. Take a tablespoon of the batter and place it in your mug. Pour the rum over the batter. Top it off with boiling water, and enjoy!

I’m not into sweets by any means, but this smelled heavenly when I put it all together. It tasted SO good, too!

4. Wassail

4. Wassail
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Wassail is a holiday punch comparable to beer or wine that plays a major role in holiday celebrations in England. The beverage dates back to the Middle Ages, so I knew I wanted an old-school recipe for it.

I used Allrecipes‘ Grandma’s Wassail recipe, which was cool because you can adjust the recipe to make the number of servings you desire.  For two servings, you’ll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups apple cider
  • 1 tbsp. plus 2 1/4 tsps. fresh orange juice
  • 2 3/4 tsps. lemon juice
  • 2 3/4 tsps. pineapple juice
  • 2 3/4 tsps. white sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1/8 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • Brandy (to taste)

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Heat all the juices and sugar together over medium-low heat. Place the cloves and pieces of cinnamon stick in a tea ball (or empty tea bag) and add to the mixture, simmering for at least 15 minutes. Add brandy to individual drinks, not the whole batch.

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You can barely taste the booze in this drink, which feels more like a fruity cider. It’s still strong, though, so don’t let it sneak up on you! I’m not a huge fan of cider, but I did enjoy this drink, where the fruit cut the strong cider taste.

5. Swedish Glogg

5. Swedish Glogg
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Last but not least is Swedish Glogg, a mulled wine drink of Scandinavian origin. I was intrigued by the use of both red wine and brandy in this recipe I followed from Fine Dining Lovers.

You’ll need:

  • 3 1/4 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup almonds*
  • 1 tsp. cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 12 sugar cubes

* I didn’t use almonds because of an allergy!

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Heat the red wine, cardamom (I couldn’t find pods so I used the ground spice instead), cinnamon stick, and cloves over medium heat until the wine is almost boiling. Then reduce heat to low and add raisins and almonds.

Let the flavors infuse for 15 minutes, making sure it does not boil. You can remove the cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom if you choose.

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Put the sugar cubes in a small pan and pour the brandy over them.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I asked for supervision before attempting the next step, which involves taking a long match or barbecue lighter and lighting the brandy so that the sugar cubes melt slowly. Once the sugar cubes are melted, add the brandy mixture to the wine mixture.

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I expected a lot of strong tastes, which the glogg delivered. What I wasn’t prepared for was how dry the beverage was, which was the only downside for me.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

The international drinks I chose definitely brought me out of my comfort zone. They also opened my eyes to some new and interesting facts about Christmas. I may even break one of these out to share my knowledge with family and friends on Christmas Day!