By Matt Hamlin
The holiday season is a time for punch. But not your standard pirate’s fair of Caribbean fruit juices and rum. The cold weather of Christmas and New Years beg for something rich and luxurious. For many, that means Egg Nog. Egg Nog can be a delightful holiday drink (Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Portland, Oregon’s Clyde Common has mastered it). But most Egg Nog comes pasteurized, with no alcohol and a horribly chemical flavor. As with any craft cocktail, fresh ingredients are best.
An alternative to Egg Nog that will impress your guests is the Tom and Jerry. It’s a dairy-based hot punch made with dark rum and brandy, with the traditional holiday spices that will make it seem familiar and comforting even to people who have never had the pleasure. Unfortunately, it’s also an involved process to make, more akin to baking than most bartenders care to hazard.
A holiday punch alternative to Egg Nog that I’ve always liked is a very old Scandinavian mulled wine called Glögg. First, the name is great. Second, while the holidays offer a variety of mulled wine and cider drinks, Glögg is unique for it’s heavy does of cardamom and the inclusion of raisins and almonds. Lastly, wine-based holiday punches are accessible without carrying the risk of knocking your guests out with hidden alcohol.
My preferred Glögg recipe comes from punch master Dan Searing and his book, The Punch Bowl. His recipe includes:
3 cardamom pods
2 750 mL bottles of red wine (cheap and dry is best)
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
3/4 cup demerara sugar
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1. Using the flat side of a knife, smash the cardamom pods, reserving the shells and seeds.
2. In a large pot set over medium heat, mix the wine, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pieces. Simmer 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let the mixtures steep for at least 2 hours. Strain, if desired.
3. Return pot to a low simmer, then slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the vodka.
4. To serve, put a scant tablespoon each of almonds and raisins into a mug, then pour 6 ounces of Glögg on top. Serve with a teaspoon so guests can eat the almonds and raisins as they drink.