Food Topics

The Holiday Spirits

Wonder where some of the popular drinks come from during the holiday season? Today I look at some of the history of them.

Wintertime, and especially Christmas, is a time where people will traditionally prepare alcoholic beverages as a way to celebrate the season. As I have stated in earlier blog posts, I have gotten into mixology. It’s not just the drinking part that I enjoy, but the craft behind it, and the history each drink has.

One of the classic drinks is mulled wine, or Glögg (pronounced Gloog). The difference between the two has to do with the preparation methods. Mulled wine is typically made by boiling the red wine with mulling spices with citrus fruits, whereas the Sweedish glögg is more complicated. It’s made from red wine, port, and brandy steeped with the aromatic spices. When I made mulled wine for my family, the reviews ranged from “interesting,” to “tastes like eating a Christmas pine cone.” In my opinion, it’s an interesting drink that I am not sure if I like or not. It’s very earthy, and a bit bitter (though this could be the wine and mulling spice blend I used.)

Another holiday favorite is egg nog. This is a creamy drink made with eggs, if the name didn’t already imply it. It is thought that this method was done to preserve eggs, something harvested typically in summer, and have them last through the winter. Alcohol can act as a preserver and as a sterilizer. However, salmonella can survive being in alcohol. This is why it’s recommended to boil your eggs to cook the bacteria to death, or to use a store-bought egg nog.

In my family, some classic holiday drinks include the Black- and White Russians. The Black Russian was invented by a bartender in Luxembourg for an American ambassador in the late 1940s, just before the Cold War began. Traditionally, the drink would be made with a 2:1 ratio of vodka to coffee liqueur, but we make it with a 1:1 ratio. The White Russian came much later, sometime in the mid -1960s, by adding milk or cream to the top of the drink.

What kind of drinks do you like to have during the holidays? Do you prefer alcohol free or boozy drinks during this time? Feel free to leave a comment. Be sure to stay safe this holiday season, and if you do drink, make sure you’re of legal drinking age, and do so in moderation! Happy Holidays!

By The Nutrition Punk

I am a dietitian living in Portland, Oregon. I write about a variety of nutrition and heath topics, with the goal of improving people's understanding of food and nutrition so they may be empowered against all the misinformation that is out there.

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