7 Holiday Cocktails From Around the World

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iStock

It's not a holiday celebration without plenty of food and drink, but what ends up on the table varies from place to place. To bring some variety into your holiday drink routine, we’ve rounded up seven festive cocktails from around the world.

1. WASSAIL (U.K.)

It’s a song! It’s a verb! It’s a warm drink! It’s Wassail, and it’s all of the above! It may bring to mind a group of carolers in centuries-old garb warbling their hearts out, but its name and heritage are a bit more muddled. As legend has it, a beautiful Saxon noblewoman seduced the drunk king with a goblet of mulled wine, the drink of choice for the rich. Once their relationship was, ahem, consummated, the king greeted her by saying, “Waes hail.” He then married her and toasted the union with “Drinc hael,” which translates to “drink in good health.” The word “wassail” later evolved to mean the toast itself, the drink in the glass, and farmers drinking (and yelling) to promote fertility on their farms. Waes hail, friends.

2. GLÖGG (SCANDANAVIA) OR GLÜWEIN (GERMANY AND AUSTRIA)

Spiced, mulled wine goes by many names, but few are as potent or as established as Glögg. In the Middle Ages, King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden was fond of a concoction of German wine, sugar, honey, and spices. Back then, many alcoholic drinks were considered medicinal. On a more practical level, the sugar and spice hid any unpleasant flavors. In 1609, it acquired the name “glödgad vin,” which translates to “glowing-hot wine.” By 1870, it first appeared in print under the shortened name “glögg.” At that point, it was probably just made from wine, but has since been fortified with port and aquavit or brandy and has become popular across Europe. Its German counterpart, glühwein (“glow wine”), is often made with white wine, and its Irish equivalent is made with their native whiskey.

Get the recipe here.

3. HOT BUTTERED RUM (U.S.)

Sometimes, a cup of Hot Buttered Rum looks like an oil slick. Other times, it’s rich and creamy and will warm you down to your toes. Back in the 1860s, U.S. taste for alcohol was divided regionally. In the Northeast, rum reigned. Although our modern idea of rum seems overwhelmingly tropical, lots and lots of rum was made and consumed in or exported from the region. To keep warm, hot drinks did the trick. Although the butter’s purpose is, to date, unknown, Charles Browne posits in the 1939 Gun Club Drink Book that it will oil your mustache.

Get the recipe here.

4. COLA DE MONO (CHILE)

If you’re ready for a party, opt for the Cola de Mono. Though it looks like a cross between Egg Nog and a White Russian, this drink is a unique experience. Translated as “tail of the monkey,” the cocktail may have been named for its effect on partygoers. It also may have picked up the nickname from being stored in Anis del Moro bottles, or from a former president and his pistol. However it was named, the aguardente in this light, creamy drink packs a wallop.

Get the recipe here.

5. PONCHE NAVIDEÑO (MEXICO) AND PONCHE DE FRUTAS (GUATEMALA)

These fruit punches are great holiday treats. Their recipes tend to be somewhat similar, due to the overlaps in available fruits, but the rummy punches turn out somewhat differently. Further, Ponche Navideño can be difficult to recreate anywhere else. This fruit-laden punch features tejocotes, the fruit of the hawthorn tree. The recipe is passed down through families and varies widely from place to place, but it always makes for a tasty warm drink.

Get the recipes here (Ponche Navieñdo) and here (Ponche de Frutas).

6. COQUITO (PUERTO RICO)

Though its history is vague, its deliciousness isn’t. Coquito, which translates as “little coconut,” is thought to be a derivative of eggnog. However it was invented, this creamy, tropical rum drink is hugely popular. In Cuba, you can get a variety that’s topped with coconut ice cream. It’s sometimes served as an after dinner chaser, and is the subject of an annual cocktail competition at the Museo Del Barrio in New York.

Get the recipe here.

7. SORREL PUNCH (JAMAICA)

If you can’t travel to the tropics this year, recreate some of its charm in your home. In Jamaica, Sorrel Punch is everywhere during the holiday season. Sorrel, also known as hibiscus, is believed to be a panacea. Whether or not it will cure what ails you, this fruity, herbal punch will bring back memories of warmer times.

Get the recipe here.

BONUS: TWO NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS TO KEEP YOU WARM.

If you’ve indulged a bit too heavily this season, fear not: we’ve included two nonalcoholic drinks you can enjoy at your leisure.

SUJEONGGWA (KOREA)

Sujeonggwa is a sweet, spicy persimmon punch that’s often topped with pine nuts. In Korea, it’s considered a dessert, and is prepared both hot and cold. It’s also considered a digestive, which may explain its place in the meal. Over time, it’s been so popular that it’s canned or bottled and sold in supermarkets.

Get the recipe here.

SALEP (TURKEY)

Salep (or Sahlep) may be the most difficult beverage to make from scratch if you live outside Turkey, since one of its ingredients—flour ground from the tubers of certain breeds of Turkish orchids—isn’t exported. Luckily, it’s available in many powdered forms. Like many other drinks, Salep was originally a medicinal potion. It’s been drunk for many centuries and still maintains a reputation for being a healthful beverage.

Get the recipe here.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

This Insulated Growler Keg Lets You Pour Carbonated Beer, Soda, and Cocktails on the Go

GrowlerWerks
GrowlerWerks

The biggest hurdle for taking draft beer on the go is keeping it cold and carbonated once you leave the brewery. And while insulated travel growlers help keep drinks fresh for longer, traditional glass growlers start losing carbonation once they're opened.

Portland-based GrowlerWerks combats the scourge of flat ales with a line of growler kegs featuring built-in tap handles that mimic a brewery-fresh pour. And with the company's lightweight and affordable uKeg Go ($99) model, GrowlerWerks is making sure your sudsy drink of choice can survive all-day cookouts, lazy nights on the patio, or a week in the fridge.

How is the uKeg Go different from a growler?

The main selling point of the 64-ounce uKeg Go is its tap, which dispenses beer just like you'd be served at a brewery. But it’s not as simple as just filling it up and playing bartender—you’ll first need to install an 8g CO2 cartridge before you even pour your first pint. Much like an actual keg, the CO2 is what’ll actually keep your drink nice and foamy after you've filled the growler. (GrowlerWerks sells its own CO2 charges separately at $12 for a pack of 10. Each cartridge should last for the entire 64 ounces.)

The cartridge itself pops right into a sleeve, which you then screw into the bottom of the cap. Once you've tightly secured the cap onto the growler, you can choose your carbonation setting—first position for beer and cider and the second position for soda and cocktails—and start pouring.

Though the system isn’t complex, you’ll definitely want to give the instructions a once-over before you first use it—I wound up wasting my first CO2 cartridge because I didn’t have the cap in the “off” position when I first installed it, resulting in it emptying out before I could even screw it on.

So, does it work?

My first drink—Coke, because my local breweries still aren’t allowing private growler fills due to COVID-19—came out perfectly chilled and fizzy, as if it had just been poured from a fountain. But time is the enemy of all carbonated beverages, so over the next eight hours I poured a few more glasses to see how both the CO2 and the temperature held up.

I found that there was very little difference between that first cold glass at 8:00 a.m. and that final one at 5:00 p.m. The drink suffered virtually no temperature change, thanks to the uKeg Go’s double-wall vacuum insulation, and never lost any of that bubbly character. Even when the keg was left out in the sun from noon to 5:00 p.m., the soda remained unaffected.

GrowlerWerks uKeg Go
GrowlerWerks

Because we're talking about a keg here, I knew I had to test out beer as best I could, so I transferred a few cans to the uKeg, and the result was pretty much the same—the growler maintained the beer’s temperature and carbonation level all day long, resulting in a consistent pour that never lost flavor or crispness. It’s basically indistinguishable from having beer straight from a brewery tap, and it'll probably be my go-to travel vessel anytime I bring local beer on the go.

While these tests simulated bringing the uKeg to an all-day event, the company claims the growler would be able to maintain the carbonation for up to two weeks.

How's the build?

The whole idea behind the uKeg Go is portability—it's meant to travel with you wherever you go, from a backyard barbecue to a weekend excursion out into the woods. And it sports a stainless-steel body that should be up for the challenge. It's lightweight, but the build is sturdy enough that you shouldn't fret that you've got fragile cargo with you (just be aware that there is a tap faucet to think about, so you might not want to jostle it around too much). There's also a convenient handle secured onto the top, making it easy to carry around with a finger or two while also traveling with beach bags and other outdoor necessities.

In terms of appearance, the uKeg Go is sportier and sleeker than the company's traditional uKeg model, looking more like an insulated bottle from HydroFlask or Stanley than a piece of brewery equipment. And there are two colors to choose from: a uniform tungsten gray model and a slightly bolder chili red, which is what I went with.

You can pick up a uKeg Go for $99 on both the GrowlerWerks website or Amazon. There’s also the company’s standard uKeg growler that ranges from 64 to 128 ounces and features a much more nuanced CO2 system. That'll run you $159–$209, depending on the exact model you get. And if coffee is more your speed, the company recently released the uKeg Nitro ($199) model that dispenses creamy, nitro-infused cold brew with the pull of a lever.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.