4 Fab International Holiday Cocktails

4 Fab International Holiday Cocktails
’Twas the month before Christmas and all through the world, people were mixing their favorite holiday cocktails in hopes of making spirits merry and bright. Here’s a sampling of international cocktails that will light the star on your tannenbaum.

Gluehwein -- Germany

Germany’s version of mulled wine is spicy, sweet, and lushly festive. Enjoy this in warmed glass mugs.
Yield: 8 servings

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine

In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
Halve the orange and squeeze the juice into the spiced water; add the peel. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until the liquid reduces and is thick and syrupy.
Add the wine and heat until steaming, but do not allow to simmer. Remove the orange peel, strain, and serve warm in heat-proof mugs.

Crema de Vie -- Cuba

Cuba’s version of egg nog, crema de vie (“the cream of life”) is silky and rich and addictive. Serve it in small glasses.
Yield: 10 servings

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rum

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring; reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Put egg yolks in a blender and process with the condensed milk. Gradually add the evaporated milk and vanilla and process until completely blended.
Gradually whisk the egg-yolk mixture into the hot sugar syrup, pouring it in a thin stream.
Whisk in the rum; chill until ready to serve.

Grzane Piwo (Mulled Beer) -- Poland

Choose a mild, light beer for this, something without too much bitterness. If you’ve never thought of beer as anything but icy cold, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this traditional Polish warming winter cocktail.
Yield: 2 servings

  • 20 ounces Belgian or other mild ale or beer
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 half-inch slice fresh ginger, peeled

Combine beer with sugar, honey, spices, and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat until simmering, stirring occasionally. Strain and serve in heat-proof mugs.

Cola de Mono -- Chile

No one seems to know why it’s called “tail of the monkey,” but this spiced blend of milk, coffee, and pisco -- Chile’s grape brandy -- is a favorite at Christmas.
Yield: 12 servings

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules, or more to taste
  • 2 cups Chilean pisco

Place the milk, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla bean, lemon zest, and orange zest in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to the scalding point over medium heat.
Stir the instant coffee granules into 2 tablespoons of the warmed milk and add to the rest of the milk mixture.
Stir to combine, taste and adjust sugar if necessary, remove from heat, cover, and allow to cool.
Strain into a glass pitcher and stir in the pisco gradually. Keep refrigerated.

Photos are courtesy of the author.

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is a freelance writer and editor based in New York's Mid-Hudson Valley.
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