June 17, 2024
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Mulling Over Chanukah: Two Recipes To Liven Up Your Chanukah Celebration

We’re approaching Chanukah, and more than most Jewish holidays, this is a festival celebrated by consuming traditional, regional foods—the very thought of the holiday can often make one salivate. For Jews of Russian/Lithuanian ancestry, the food of choice is potatoes latkes; for Polish Jews, it’s ratzelech (latkes made with a mixture of potatoes and apples); for Italian Jews, it’s fried chicken, and for Israelis it’s jelly donuts and mulled wine.

Mulled (i.e., heated and seasoned) wine has been drunk for millennia, and in the early days of the American republic, it was a popular wintertime tipple, along with mulled cider, mulled ale and mulled rum. Today, while mulled wine may be almost as popular in the United States as driving an Edsel or a Yugo, in Israel it is rapidly becoming the drink of choice at Chanukah parties, and for good reason. In spite of its antiquated reputation and lack of popularity in America, mulled wine is tasty, inexpensive, easy to make and a great drink for Chanukah, or any other festive wintertime occasion.

So in honor of Chanukah, we provide you with two easy, tasty, recipes for making your own mulled wine.

Glögg (Israeli Chanukah Punch)

(Serves 12)

It is not exactly clear when or why this Swedish hot wine punch became so popular in Israel as a Chanukah drink, but today it is ubiquitous there during the festival. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of good recipes for Glögg, but this is the one we use in the Kronemer household:

2 bottles of Bordeaux-style red wine (Yarden Mount Hermon Red, or Rue de Pavee Bordeaux would be good choices—and stick with more budget friendly wines.)

1 t. Angostura Aromatic Bitters

2/3 c. brown sugar

1/4 t. cardamom seeds (removed from the pods)

2 whole cloves

6 allspice berries

1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and quartered

zest of one small orange (make it a Seville orange if you can find one, and whatever orange you use, make sure to only remove the outer layer of the zest leaving the white pith behind)

1/2 of a cinnamon stick

1 c. blanched almond slivers

1 c. dark raisins

In a half-gallon mason jar, combine the wine, brown sugar and bitters. Wrap the ginger, zest and spices in a triple layer of cheesecloth, and seal with kitchen twine. Drop the spice packet into the jar, then seal the jar and give it a good shake. Let the jar sit in a cool, dark, place for 10-12 hours, giving it a good shake every few hours. Then remove the spice packet and heat in a crock pot or chafing dish until almost simmering. To serve, put a handful of raisins and almond slivers in the bottom of each glass, then ladle in the hot punch.

The Locomotive

(serves 1-2)

These socially-isolated times may call for a recipe that produces a more modest volume of mulled wine, and this rich, satiny-smooth concoction will likely hit the spot. The recipe for this drink is adapted from one found in the world’s first cocktail book, Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book “How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant’s Companion.” The Locomotive was likely invented in the early 19th century, at about the same time as the vehicle for which it was named.

1 c. Pinot Noir or other light- to medium-bodied dry red wine (Gilgal Pinot Noir or Baron Herzog Pinot Noir would be good choices—and stick with more budget-friendly wines.)

2 T. Cointreau or Senior’s Curacao

3 T. honey

2 egg yolks, well beaten

1 pinch ground cloves

Combine the wine, cloves and honey in a small saucepan, and stir over a low flame until the honey is fully dissolved and the mixture is almost simmering. In a small bowl, beat the yolks with the liqueur, and when the wine mixture is heated, slowly pour in wine while constantly whisking the eggs. Transfer the contents to serving glasses and enjoy.

Note on equipment: One should always make and serve mulled wine in non-reactive vessels. I like to mull wine in either earthenware, enamel-lined or stainless-steel pots. Never mull wine in aluminum, as it can give the wine an off-putting metallic taste. I also find it best to serve mulled wine in those small, footed, glass mugs known as either London dock glasses or Irish coffee glasses. The clear glass allows one to appreciate the color as well as the flavor of the drink.


For more than 15 years, Gamliel Kronemer has been writing about kosher wine, spirits, cocktails and food in a number of different Jewish newspapers and magazines. He lives with his wife Jessica, in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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