7 Holiday Cocktails From Around the World

iStock
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 Must-Have Trivia Games for Any Interest

Amazon
Amazon

Whether you’re a TV lover, serial killer aficionado, or a history buff, there’s a trivia game out there to suit your interests (even if those interests are as niche as wild turkey hunting). Check out these 10 trivia games you can enjoy with your friends and family, no matter how specific your tastes may be.

1. Inspirational Women Trivia Game; $10

Inspirational women trivia card game
Uncommon Goods

Accomplished women have often gone overlooked in history books. This game brings attention to the women you may not have known, spotlighting inspirational figures like Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Mount Everest; Emmeline Pankhurst, a leader of the British suffrage movement; and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of one of the first-ever private schools for African-American girls. With three levels of difficulty, you can either play with a younger audience eager to learn or test the knowledge of some of your history buff friends.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

2. Friends Trivia; $33

Friends trivia.
Lacesi/Amazon

Friends is one of the most quotable series from the '90s, but if you think your knowledge of the classic sitcom is on another level, it's time to put it to the test. In The One With All the Questions, Friends fans will have 342 questions to prove who the real Geller expert is. This one should fill the Central Perk-shaped hole in your heart while you wait for the show to return to streaming on HBO Max later this year.

Buy it: Amazon

3. The Logo Game; $45

Logo Game on Amazon.
Spin Master Games/Amazon

With more than 1200 questions about brand logos, slogans, and television commercials, this game is for anyone who knows their Taco Bells from their Del Tacos. Race around the board to beat up to five other players in a challenge to see who knows the most about modern brands.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Cinephile; $20

Illustrated Cinephile game cards
Cory Everett and Steve Isaacs/Amazon

Movie lovers, look out for Cinephile, a card game that challenges players with five different gameplay options. In the easiest version of the game, called Filmography, you simply have to name more of an actor’s past movie roles than your opponent. But take the chance to brush up on your film trivia before you tackle the hardest method of gameplay—Six Degrees. In this mode, you’ll play a version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in order to connect any two random actors from different eras.

Buy it: Amazon

5. ... I Should Have Known That! Trivia Game; $16

I Should Have Known That! trivia game
Hygge Games/Amazon

How do you say Japan in Japanese? What does GPS stand for? What side of the boat is starboard? This game quizzes you on things you feel like you should know—but often don’t. Challenge your friends with 400 questions about everything from Facebook to fairy tales. Want an extra edge when you go to play the game? Prepare yourself by reading these amazing facts that we think everyone should know.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Wine IQ; $19

Wine IQ trivia game
Helvetiq/Amazon

To most of us, a $15 bottle of wine tastes exactly the same as a $100 bottle. But if you’re one of those few people who can actually tell the difference, this might be your game. With tricky multiple-choice questions like “What is a raisined grape?” and “What should be avoided while tasting wine?” (answer: wearing perfume), this trivia game will challenge even the most avid vino buffs. Wine not your thing? Don’t worry—Amazon also sells a trivia game for beer lovers.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Trekking the National Parks: The Family Trivia Game; $30

Trekking the National Parks trivia game
Underdog Games/Amazon

Even if you know absolutely nothing about national parks, you can still enjoy this trivia game that’s kind of like The Price Is Right meets Jeopardy! meets a Patagonia store. All the answers are numerical, so even if you don’t know the exact year that Yellowstone was established as a national park (1872) or the elevation of the tallest mountain in the United States (20,308 feet), you still have a shot at winning if your guess comes closest to the actual answer.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sussed Lifeology; $13

SUSSED Lifeologies self-exploration trivia game
SUSSED/Amazon

To win this game, you’ll have to prove you know the most about your fellow players. Does Uncle Frank prefer poetry, biographies, or fiction? Would your friend Abby rather be a Formula One racer, a top-seeded tennis player, or a chess grandmaster? Mix things up with the All Sorts and Wonderlands expansion packs, which offer 1000 additional questions suitable for both adults and young children.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Hella '90s; $15

'90s trivia game on Amazon.
Buffalo Games/Amazon

Finally, an excuse to proudly flaunt your knowledge of Nintendo 64 controllers, Bill Clinton’s cat, and Tamagotchis. With 400 questions on the cringey fashion, music, and social trends of the time, this game isn’t for novices—you’ve got to be fully immersed in all things ‘90s to stand a chance. And if you want to set the right mood, you can scan a code on the box to listen to the game’s decade-appropriate soundtrack on Spotify.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Death By Trivia; $24

Death by Trivia game on Amazon.
Headburst/Amazon

What was the American folklore-inspired name for the operation conducted in response to the ax murder of two U.S. soldiers by North Korea in 1976? If you answered Paul Bunyan, you're correct! You're also probably full of more macabre knowledge perfect for Death by Trivia, a game that actually rewards you for knowing all about ax-murderers, mad scientists, serial killers, and other grisly bits of history. So grab a couple like-minded friends and see who comes out on top in this twisted test of trivia.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Trick Your Friends Into Thinking You’re a Sommelier With This Wine Pairing Towel Set

Wine pairing towels on sale at UncommonGoods.
Wine pairing towels on sale at UncommonGoods.
UncommonGoods

One of the most stressful parts of cooking a delicious dinner is figuring out what kind of wine would be the perfect complement to your meal. What goes with steak? Salmon? Pizza? Opinions and palates will always differ.

But don’t throw in the towel just yet. Behold this lifesaving wine pairing towel set, which is available on UncommonGoods for $28. These nifty towels show you which wines—both white and red—go best with certain foods. And they don’t skimp on the options, either. They feature 68 common wines and 56 different foods (that’s 3808 possible combinations).

Each bottle is ranked against each food, and the pairing quality is listed as either excellent, good, or avoid. And as a bonus, they also feature notes about each wine’s acidity, tannins, body, and sweetness. So if you don’t want to ask Alexa about the wine you’re drinking, you can just sneak a peek at these towels while everyone else is praising you for your amazing pairing skills.

Great for wine novices, wine snobs, and everyone in between, these towels are the perfect resource for anyone who needs a little extra help when it comes to choosing the right bottle for dinner. Learn some more fun facts about wine here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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