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Sunday, 6 December 2015

Ted mulls it over


… seems like around Halloween time as the weather gets a little colder we start getting a hankering for our alcoholic beverages to be heated up. By the time Christmas is near we’re well into the swing of hot seasonal and celebratory drinks and keeping our hands warm by wrapping them around a nice glass of mulled wine. “Mulled” means heated and spiced, and mulled wine itself dates back to the ancient Greeks, supposedly invented by none other than that famous Greek scientist and Father of Medicine, Hippocrates. He called his version “hippocras” (well he would wouldn’t he) and considered it to be a tonic.

Pretty much every country that drinks alcohol have their own version of mulled wine. In Germany its known as “gluhwein” and used to be served in a tankard and then a hot iron was poked into the tankard to heat the wine … thus “glow wine”. In the Nordic countries it’s called “glogg”, in Croatia and her neighbours you would ask for “kuhano vino”, in France “vin chaud”. In the Netherlands it’s “bishops wine” and on and on it goes. In Canada they call it “Caribou” and it’s a mixture of red wine, maple syrup and hard liquor – too many of those and you’d be seeing Caribou!!

This got me to thinking about what other hot drinks are traditionally associated with Christmas and the festive season. Hot chocolate and coffee drinks with liquor added, like the one from Ireland called “dead rabbit” that’s laden with Irish whiskey (and yes they do spell it with an “e”) are always popular. For some reason we seem to want to put butter into our hot drinks as well, like hot buttered rum and buttered beer - not to be mistaken for the Harry Potter favourite, Butter Beer which actually has no beer in it at all.

Thankfully we don’t put butter in that most classic of Christmas drinks “eggnog” … nope no butter just lashings of cream, booze and eggs – delicious. Mulled cider is a big favourite in the UK and it started life being called “wassail” (literally “be healthy”) and was traditionally drunk when “wassailing” (of course) which meant that you went to the apple orchards on the twelfth night of Christmas and sang to the cider apple trees to wake them up and scare off evil spirits, and then drank to their health with wassail.

 … after which you got on your Caribou and went home …

5 comments:

Sharon Anck said...

What an interesting history of heated and spiced drinks. I'm sure it's nice to have a warm drink in your hand when you are strolling through the Christmas Markets.

William Kendall said...

I've never had mulled wine. Apple cider, yes.

Geoff Wilkinson said...

Mmmh the caribou sounds lethal, ok I'll try it .....great stuff as always...

jabblog said...

Fascinating - though I don't fancy butter in my drinks . . .

Jack said...

I don't drink, but in the Christmas markets of Germany, Holland and France, I absolutely love the smell of glühwein.

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