Two German Christmas & New Year’s HOT DRINK RECIPES:
Feuerzangenbowle (Flaming Fire Tongs Punch) and
Glühwein (Hot Mulled Wine)
Below you will find recipes for two popular German hot winter drinks: Feuerzangenbowle and Glühwein. They both begin by preparing a bowl/pot of hot mulled wine (Glühwein). You can stop at that point for a delicious winter drink, or you can proceed to what I call “Glühwein on steroids.” That would be the celebrated German Feuerzangenbowle, also known as flaming hot tongs punch. The “flaming” part comes about as the result of using high-proof rum (151 proof is recommended) to soak a sugar cone
Feuerzangenbowle is a German New Year’s or winter flaming punch made with red wine, rum and carmelized sugar. See our New Year’s Customs page for more about the story behind Feuerzangenbowle. Although it is a bit complicated to make, Feuerzangenbowle is a wonderful winter treat. Another option, if you’re in Germany, is to buy this drink ready-made in a special Feuerzangentasse (fire tongs cup) at a Christmas market. (See the photo below.) Otherwise, here’s a party recipe for Feuerzangenbowle that serves 12-15 people:
- 3 bottles of dry red wine (750 ml each)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- cardamom (or a pinch of ground ginger)
- 1-2 oranges
- 1-2 lemons
- 5 cloves
- 1 sugar cone
- 1 bottle of high-proof brown rum (750 ml, min. 54% alcohol; Bacardi 151 or similar)
CAUTION! This recipe requires the use of high-proof alcohol and an open flame. Use care!
1. In a large pot or kettle filled with the red wine, add cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and allspice. Cut up the oranges and lemons (optional: make peel spirals), crush fruit to release the juice, and add to the punch along with the cloves. Warm to a steaming mixture. Do not boil! Remove pot from heat and place on a low-heat source to keep it warm.
2. Place a sugar cone (Zuckerhut, sugar loaf)* on a metal rack/screen or clamped in metal tongs (Feuerzangen) above the warm punch. (Substitute sugar cubes if you can’t get a real Zuckerhut.) Slowly pour the high-proof rum over the Zuckerhut or sugar cubes and let soak for a minute. Carefully light the Zuckerhut or sugar cubes and let the flaming sugar carmelize and drip into the punch mix. Add rum as needed to keep the flame going until the sugar cone process is done. (Use a long-handled ladle to add the rum; do not pour the rum directly from the bottle!) Stir gently and serve the punch hot in mugs or hot-tea glasses. (Note: Traditionally, Feuerzangenbowle was prepared with the Zuckerhut sitting on crossed swords atop the pot.)
*ZUCKERHUT: A German sugar cone or sugar loaf (lit. “sugar hat”) is made of compressed Raffinade (refined sugar) in a cone shape. A German description of Raffinade (with English): “Ein Zucker von höchster Reinheit und bester Qualität. Die Raffinade wird aus sehr reinen Zuckerlösungen gewonnen und entspricht hohen Ansprüchen.” (A sugar of highest purity and best quality. Raffinade is made from very pure sugar solutions and meets high standards.) If you can’t get the real thing, substitute sugar cubes in the recipe above, but a real sugar cone works best. Outside of Europe you may be able to find sugar cones online or at a shop that specializes in German or European products. See the sugar cone photo below.
Also see the much simpler recipe for Glühwein below.
Glühwein, literally “glow wine,” is a popular hot winter drink in Germany and the other German-speaking lands. Known as hot mulled wine in English, it makes a great winter drink. Why? It tastes great, warms you up, and is easy to prepare.
Ingredients (serves 2-3 persons)
- 1 bottle of dry red wine (750 ml)
- one lemon
- one orange
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- some cardamom (or ginger)
Heat the red wine in a pot, but don’t let it boil. Cut the lemon and orange into slices and add to the wine. Then add the cinnamon, cloves, sugar and a little cardamom or ginger (to taste). Heat everything for about 5 minutes (but do not boil!) and let stand for about an hour. Before serving, reheat and strain. Serve in prewarmed mugs or tea glasses.
AT THE GERMAN WAY
- Silvester: New Year’s Eve in Germany – How do Germans welcome the new year?
- And the sky became a sea of light – Silvester in the Hauptstadt – from the GW Expat Blog
- How to Survive a Berlin New Year’s – from the GW Expat Blog
- Christmas from A to Z – German Christmas traditions and terms
- Christmas in the USA and Germany – A comparison chart
- Epiphany and the Sternsinger – About January 6 in the Germanic Christmas tradition
- Holidays and Celebrations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland
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