The History of Holiday Drinks
December 14, 2023

It’s the time of year when the seasonal ingredients come into play in baking, cocktails, and wines. The holidays mean buying and wrapping gifts, meeting up with long-lost relatives, spreading holiday cheer and enjoying holiday-themed food and drinks! Have you ever wondered where your Grandma’s infamous eggnog began? The story behind it?

Well, you probably have. If Grandma or Grandpa hasn’t told you the story behind some of your favourite festive holiday drinks yet, at Angry Otter, we have found the answers for you! And trust us, it wasn’t always Grandma's secret recipe.

Mulled Wine: A Journey through Time and Spices

Traditionally made with red or port, Mulled wine combines spices and sometimes citrus to create a festive flavour symbolic of Christmas. Its roots date back to the Roman Empire. Originally, Romans put honey in their boiled wine, along with other spices and dates. They then blended it to soften the substance before heating it.

Across Medieval Europe, a drink called Spiced Wine that uses the same techniques is popularized. It was not until the late 1800s that the tradition of mulled wine during Christmas was popularized. In traditional German Christmas markets, merchants made their unique twist to the recipe, making it a staple for Yuletide celebrations.

There are, of course, several variations from different regions. These include the Latvian style, which adds a black liqueur from Riga. Hungarian mulled wine uses a local wine variety with cinnamon and cloves. Bulgarian mulled wine adds honey, apple, and citrus to its wine. Swedish mulled wine is commonly sweeter than red wine, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Alsatian mulled wine is traditionally made from white wine, with Riesling or Pinot Blanc. On the other hand, traditional Polish mulled wine is beer mixed with traditional fruits and spices.

Learn more about the history of mulled wine here


Although there are several recipes, this one is a typical classic take. View the original recipe here


  • 1 Bottle Ared Wine
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 Orange, zested and juiced
  • 4 Cloves
  • 3 Star Anise
  • 4 cup Apple Cider


Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and serve warm.

Eggnog: A Festive Blend of Flavors and Stories

Eggnog is a puzzling concoction, isn't it? The thought of sipping a mixture of spiced egg yolk might raise eyebrows, but somehow, it's a holiday tradition we can't resist!

Most historians trace the origins of eggnog back to 13th-century Britain when it was known as posset. This creamy blend of hot milk, eggs, and spirits like ale or sherry was a beloved drink among the upper echelons of society. However, it wasn't until the 17th century, with its arrival in America, that eggnog truly became intertwined with holiday celebrations. Back then, eggs and milk were abundant on farms, making them easily accessible and affordable ingredients. Rum, too, was considerably cheaper, making the classic Rum and Eggnog a signature holiday drink.

Over time, eggnog's richness and warmth came to symbolize abundance and merriment during the holiday season. Adding nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla enhanced its flavours as the recipe evolved, transforming it into a comforting indulgence, especially during the chillier months.

Learn more about its history here

Our Favourite Rum and Eggnog Recipe

A perfect drink for the holiday festivities. View the original here


  • 2 oz Rum
  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • 2 oz Eggnog
  • Splash of Vanilla Extract
  • Nutmeg and Cinnamon to taste


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until combined and chilled, approximately 30 seconds. Strain and pour into a chilled glass filled with crushed ice. Top with cinnamon.

Hot Buttered Rum: Navigating the Warmth of Tradition

Rum has a deep history in the maritime world. Sailors in the 17th century believed in its power to ward off the cold during long voyages. In colonial America, where Rum was cheap and easily obtainable, it was an important staple for American holiday celebrations.

Rum was cheap because it was made from molasses from sugar cane grown on British-possessed Caribbean islands. As tea was expensive, rum was a common alternative for daily life. To make it festive, it was flavoured during holiday celebrations. This led to adding butter, sugar, spices, and even eggs, creating the Rum and Eggnog.

At the time, they believed hot drinks warded off cold from their homes. Thus, the drink became popular. The richness of butter and sweetness from the brown sugar added to the festivities, causing it to evolve into what it is today.

Hot buttered rum remains a beloved holiday drink, with recipes passed down through generations. Its versatility allows experimentation, incorporating different spices and variations and catering to diverse palates.

The Classic Recipe

View the original recipe here


For Batter (Makes 24 servings, but can be stored in the fridge.)

  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 pinch of Salt
  • 1 cup Butter

For Cocktail

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • Hot Water
  • Optional: Whipped Cream


For batter: Combine and roll in parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before making a drink.
For the cocktail: slice off the butter and stir with dark rum and warm water (If your water is boiling, the alcohol can potentially boil off).

Optional: top with whipped cream, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

The Joy of Sharing: Tips for Serving

Crafting and presenting these iconic holiday drinks goes beyond the mere assembly of ingredients; it's about curating an experience to add to the festivities. Let's delve into some tips and tricks to elevate your holiday drink experience, turning sips into cherished memories:

  • Think quality! Opt for high-quality spirits, fresh spices, and top-notch dairy products. Investing in superior ingredients ensures an authentic taste and experience.
  • Presentation matters! Experiment with garnishes and glassware. Consider the Rum and Eggnog for a moment. The drink alone is tasty, but the added cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg could go a long way.
  • Compliment your drinks with festive treats and desserts. Delightful mince pies with mulled wine, gingerbread cookies with eggnog, or warm cinnamon rolls with hot buttered rum can elevate the flavours and create a symphony of taste that resonates with the season's spirit.

The history of holiday drinks is a tapestry woven with tradition, warmth, and conviviality. As we celebrate this festive season, let's raise our glasses to the timeless classics that bring joy and comfort to our gatherings. Embrace the rich cultural heritage behind mulled wine, eggnog, and hot buttered rum, and create cherished memories with friends and family as you savor these iconic beverages.

Explore Angry Otter’s wide selection of premium spirits, spices, and ingredients to craft these timeless holiday beverages at home. Don’t forget to share your festive drink creations with us on Facebook and Instagram!

Cheers to a season filled with cherished traditions and delightful sips!

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