12 Holiday Drinks From Around The World

Emily Becker

Senior Contributor

Wherever you are in the world, the holidays are a time for celebration. This is the season for gathering with friends, sharing good food, and of course, toasting to the past year. Bring a little international flair to your parties this season with one of the following drinks that are part of holiday traditions in countries around the world.

Wassail - United Kingdom

Wassail was originally an integral part of a medieval ritual in which people went door-to-door singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for presents and good tidings. A pot of this warm apple cider-type drink with plenty of cloves and cinnamon will warm any cold night - whether you spend it visiting all of your neighbours or not.

Cava - Spain

This sparkling wine is synonymous with festivities in Spain but is especially common around the holidays. On New Year’s Eve, the tradition is to toast with cava and eat twelve grapes at midnight to bring good luck to the next year.

Poppy Seed Milk - Lithuania

This drink is traditionally used by Lithuanians to toast the Winter Solstice. You make the “poppy seed milk” by soaking poppy seeds in water before blending and then straining the mixture. A touch of sugar and almond extract make for a lightly flavoured, chilled drink.
Poppy Seed Milk

Gluhwein - Germany

The German take on mulled wine might be the first (and best) purchase that you make when visiting one of the country’s famous Christmas markets. But mulling wine is relatively easy to do at home as well. Gather some red wine, spices (like cloves and cinnamon) and oranges and let everything simmer on the stove for a bit. As a bonus, it will also fill your home with its spicy, fruity scent.

Glögg - Scandanavia

Glögg, Guhlwein’s cousin to the north, adds port and brandy to the mix, which makes it a much boozier glass of wine. It’s also common to add fruits (that have also been soaked in alcohol) raisins, and nuts to a glass of glögg and include a little spoon with which to eat everything.

Sahlep - Turkey

A delicious way to warm you up during the winter months, sahlep is a hot milk drink with cinnamon or other spices from Turkey. It traditionally includes sahlep powder, which is made from wild orchid, but, as the flower’s population is in decline and rules about its export have gotten more stringent, you may have to settle for sahlep-flavoured powder instead.

Uzvar Kompot - Russia

This sweet drink is made from fruit that has been simmered with sugar and water (and is not to be confused with the dessert compote). Really any fresh or dried fruit can be used to make uzvar kompot, and it was originally used to preserve fruit for the harsh winters of Eastern Europe.
Uzvar Kompot

Cola de Mono - Chile

While its name gives nothing away - it translates as “monkey tail” - cola de mono is a creamy drink with coffee, almost like a White Russian or cafe con leche, with the addition of Chilean aguardiente or pisco. Both of these liquors can be hard to find outside of Chile, so in a pinch, white rum or brandy will also do. There are conflicting origin stories about how the cocktail got its name, although some say it’s as simple as the fact that a couple of cola de monos will have you swinging from a tree like a monkey.

Cola de Mono

Sorrel Punch - Jamaica

Buds of dried sorrel flowers - a species of hibiscus plant also called Roselle - are responsible for much of the flavour and colour of this drink. With a hint of ginger, sugar, lime and rum, a glass of sorrel punch is refreshing any time of the year but is traditionally served during the holidays in Jamaica. The flower grows abundantly on the island, but you can also buy it dried at Caribbean or African grocery stores or online.
Sorrel Punch

Eggnog - United States

Americans have been drinking the rich, milk and egg punch for centuries. While its exact origin is up for debate, most historians think the drink is a variant of one from medieval Britain. When the drink made its way to the U.S. in the 1700s, farms - and thus cows and chickens - were in abundance and eggnog became synonymous with holiday celebrations. Making the drink is a little labour intensive - most recipes call for at least six eggs - but many say the homemade version is much better than what is sold in stores. Mix in rum or bourbon or even cognac and cheers to holiday traditions.

Ponche Navideño - Mexico

When it’s called “Christmas Punch,” you know it’s meant for celebrating. Made with water, fruits (tamarind, prunes, guava, raisins, apples, oranges, really whatever your heart desires), hibiscus and spices and sweetened with piloncillo, Ponche Navideño can be served with or without alcohol.

Ponche Navideño

Coquito - Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s answer to eggnog uses coconut milk, cream of coconut and Puerto Rican rum. Whether you need to include eggs or not is part of many generations-long discussions. A batch of coquito - “little coconut” - is like a drinking a coconut - cool, creamy, boozy coconut.

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