Hot Punches

Glogg, gluhwein, mulled wine, hot punch – they all come down to the same thing: a richly aromatic warm drink best enjoyed on a cold winter’s night, in front of the fire, or well wrapped up, strolling through a Christmas street market, while carollers sing in the background. Most of the European nations have their own version of hot punch, and we’re looking at three here, plus one that has an American feel to it.

  • Don’t use your best wine for these recipes: a cheaper one will do.
  • But not too cheap! As a rough guide, the cheaper the wine the more sugar it’ll need.
  • Boiling will cause the alcohol to evaporate so don’t boil these punches unless you want to have the flavour without the alcohol.
  • If you do want alcohol-free, use blackcurrant juice instead of the wine. And, obviously, don’t add vodka, brandy or any other spirit!

Let’s begin with the Scandinavian Glogg.
For this, you need:

  • 1 bottle red wine, full-bodied such as a Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 50 g raisins
  • 50 g almonds (optional)
  • 5 cardamon pods, crushed
  • 5 cloves stuck into an orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Vodka
  • 50 g sugar (or to taste)

Mix the wine, almonds, raisins and spices and leave, covered, at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Add the vodka and sugar to taste and warm through until the sugar is dissolved. Serve hot in a heat-proof glass or mug with a few raisins sprinkled on top.

You know it’s autumn in Germany when the street-markets start selling Glühwein.

To make your own Glühwein, you need:

  • 2 bottles full-bodied red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 lemon, cut in half and studded with 20 cloves
  • 8 cinnamon sticks, broken up

Mix the water, clove-studded lemon and cinnamon sticks together in a large pan. Simmer gently for an hour. Strain into a jug and use the pan to heat the wine. Return the water mixture to the pan and stir. Serve in mugs or heatproof glasses. Garnish with orange slices.

Mulled Cider is a traditional English winter drink and this version gives a special appley edge to the usual recipe.

  • 10 English apples, cores removed
  • Soft brown sugar
  • 100 ml cider

Preheat the oven to 190oC, gas mark 5.

Place apples on a baking sheet and fill the centres with sugar. Pour the cider over the apples and bake for about 40 minutes or until soft and bursting.

While the apples are cooking, prepare the punch.

  • 2 pieces of lemon rind
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 litre dry cider
  • ¼l Calvados
  • 1½l apple juice

Tie the lemon rind and spices together in a piece of muslin to make a spice bag. Put it in a large pan with the cider, Calvados and apple juice. Heat through. Add the cooked apples with all their juices. Serve warm in mugs or heatproof glasses.

And now, as promised, a hot punch with the American flavour of cranberries.

For Cranberry Tea, you need:

  • 8 tea bags
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups cranberry juice, unsweetened
  • 2 cups cider
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced

First boil the water, and then pour it onto the tea bags in a saucepan. Stir and leave for 4 minutes. Strain into a punch bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. If it’s not being drunk straightaway, return to the pan and keep warm over a gentle heat.

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