In early December I had the pleasure of traveling to Berlin, Germany with my dear friend Jennifer to celebrate her milestone birthday! Like me, she is a lover of all things Christmas, and the trip was on her bucket list of places to travel. The plan was to stay in the center of Berlin and spend a week visiting museums, restaurants, and of course the Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets) that are situated all throughout Berlin!
A favorite (and very stylish!) market was WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt. This is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin during the festive Christmas season. Framed by the Französischer Dom, the Konzerthaus, and the Deutscher Dom, a small tent city with more than 1,000 strings of light appears like magic each year in this centrally-located square that house artisans selling handmade ornaments, candles, gifts, and casual food stalls. Besides the many wintry delights at the market stalls, Michelin-starred chefs offer their haute cuisine in heated tents. This market was so enchanting, we went twice!
All of the markets, bars, and restaurants offer different variations of warm Glühwein—based on either red or white wines (I like to use a Cotes du Rhone or Chardonnay) infused with dried spices, honey, and orange peel, which is served warm and typically with a shot of liqueur like amaretto, brandy, or dark rum. After being outside wandering the streets of Berlin this is a very much welcomed drink to help warm your hands and your tummy!
My Warm Winter Glühwein uses a white wine base and infused with aromatics that add incredible flavor and fabulous notes of the wintry holidays. I love having a pot of this on the stove as company arrives—it is a fabulous drink to serve as a welcome, but also makes the house smell so wonderful!
From my kitchen to yours – Happy Holidays!
Warm Winter Glühwein
Ingredients (serves 4)
Orange – outer peel of 1 orange
Cloves – 15 whole cloves
White Wine – 1 bottle (750 ml), Chardonnay, dry variety recommended
Honey – 4 tablespoons
Star Anise – 4 whole pods
Ginger – 2 pieces, fresh, 1-inch each, peeled, thinly sliced
Cinnamon Sticks – 3
Sparkling Water – 1½ cups
Dark Rum – 4 tablespoons
Orange Liqueur – 2 tablespoons
Start by inserting the whole cloves into the pieces of orange peels.
Next, in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the wine, honey, star anise, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and the orange peels dotted with cloves. Allow to come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and barely simmer for 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove all of the dried spices and orange peels. Set aside to use as garnishes.
Lastly, stir in the sparkling water, dark rum, and orange liqueur. Gently reheat and serve warm.
Tip: I found that adding in sparkling water at the end gave this warm cocktail a slightly effervescent finish and lighter texture.
Idea: You can also make this in advance by following steps 1,2, and 3. If you plan to serve it later that day, just leave it to cool on the stove top. Before serving, gently reheat over medium heat, and add the sparkling water, rum, and orange liqueur. If you want to make it and store it, allow it to cool completely, transfer it into a container, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Before serving, gently reheat over medium heat, and add the sparkling water, rum, and orange liqueur.