Although some holiday traditions transcend border lines, the beverage that fills your cup of cheer on the holidays tends to vary by country.
Countries around the world add their own cultural traditions to libations served during the holidays. So sip on these global cocktails as an authentic way to learn about a country’s customs.
Travel the world and experience global holiday culture without ever leaving the District with this holiday guide to international, festive drinks:
El Coquito – Cuba Libre Restaurant
An El Coquito is Puerto Rico’s take on eggnog that’s traditionally sipped at Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. The El Coquito ($10) at Cuba Libre is made with rum, coconut milk and condensed milk sweetened with vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. Head to Cuba Libre at 801 Ninth St. NW for a holiday refreshment with an island feel.
El Coquito translates to “little coconut” in Spanish. This version of eggnog shows how a Christmas classic can change from one country to another depending on local ingredients and taste preferences.
Poncho de Agave – MXDC Cocina Mexicana
Poncho de Agave ($14) is a Mexican twist on a festive favorite – eggnog. The drink is made with cream, milk, whipped egg yolks and sugar to make a frothy beverage that is spiked with tequila and whiskey.
The traditional Mexican drink that inspired Poncho de Agave originated in the 18th century, when people from England crossed the Atlantic Ocean and first introduced Mexico to eggnog. The culture added their own spin on the English holiday drink to create the Poncho de Agave that MXDC serves today. Because eggnog is already popular in the U.S. around this time of year, head to MXDC, located at 600 14th St. NW, for an easy way to try a new culture’s take on your favorite holiday beverage.
Gluhwein – Cafe Berlin
Mulled wine, dubbed Gluhwein in German, is a traditional European beverage that can be found flowing from glasses around the holidays in Germany. Cafe Berlin’s gluhwein ($8) is made with hot red wine mixed with various mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves and citrus fruits like orange and lemon. Unlike traditional mulled wine, this Gluhwein is doctored up with a splash of jagertee – a mixture of rum, brandy and spices. With the added alcohol, Cafe Berlin, located at 322 Massachusetts Ave. NE, packs their version of this drink with an extra punch.
This Christmas classic has been warming people for centuries. The first known origins of spiced wine can be traced back to ancient Egypt, but the allure spread throughout Northern Europe as a delicious way of keeping cozy during the winter months. Gluhwein is directly translated to “glow wine” in German because hot irons were once used for mulling and created a fiery glow when heated up.