Buttergrog is just one variation of the many wintry, soothing, holiday beverages popular throughout Europe. The word grog can refer to a plethora of alcoholic beverages, but simply stated it means “boozy beverage” or punch. It is said that grogs originated in the 1600’s as a way for sailors to sterilize or freshen their stored stagnant water. Throughout history spices and alcohol have been used to either prevent or mask food spoilage. From pickled roasts to heavily spiced mince pies, the spicy, holiday flavors we associate with the holidays can often be traced back to the days when peasants made due with what they had by adding a liberal “pinch” of spices. Festive nogs, grogs and Glögg’s all have endless recipe variations that may be different from one region (or house) to another. During the holiday season, we have made it a habit to touch base with our Germanic roots. It’s important for me to really build solid memories with my family, and I try to focus on special recipes that we look forward to. These old world recipes are always so familiar and comforting for me, I hope my kids will cherish these traditional foods for years to come.
Most years we celebrate the winter solstice and Yule season with sweet and aromatic Glühwein or Homemade Apple Mead, and every chance I get, I whip together a batch of Raw Eggnog. This year I have fallen back in love with sultry, aromatic hot cider. This mulled, hot cider is a buttery, rich and tangy cold weather staple. Although not quite as infamous as Glühwein, this German Christmas beverage is a big cup of cozy… with butter on top! Very much like a hot toddy, you can prepare this in large batches with or without the alcohol. If you’re throwing a cocktail party, add as much party to your punch as you’d like. For a non-alcoholic, family friendly tradition simply mull the cider as directed and add a few tablespoons of rum or vanilla brandy per glass with your butter. I prefer to prepare mine glass by glass because if forgotten about, the butter becomes cold and gross. You’ll notice my “glass” is about 20 ounces, so if you are feeling generous you can always share.
- 2-3 Teaspoons Maple Syrup or Raw Sugar (to taste)
- Organic Apple Cider (About 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon Salted Butter
- 1-2 Tablespoons Homemade Vanilla Brandy or Rum (Optional)
- 1-2 Strips of Citrus Peel
- 2 Whole Cloves
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Heat apple cider and maple syrup or sugar in a small sauce pot. (Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat until it is hot.)
- Add citrus peel, cloves and cinnamon and allow to steep over low heat for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add butter and brandy to a glass and top with the warmed cider and spices.
- Serve warm with Lebkuchen or your favorite coffee time biscuit.
For a party portion you can mull a large pot of gently sweetened cider with the cinnamon sticks, citrus peel, and cloves. Float some lemon, orange and apple slices in the punch bowl. Keep hot and serve approximately 8 ounces with one teaspoon of butter and a tablespoon of Rum or Brandy.
Note: For an awesome winter pick me up add raw apple cider vinegar instead of rum or brandy and use raw honey instead of maple syrup. (Remember not to heat the mixture over 110 degrees!) This is a wonderful holistic way to boost your immunity, sooth stomach upsets and aid digestion.