Variations abound, as do historical origins. Everyone from the ancient Greeks to Victorian Britons enjoyed the festive punch. Yet there’s one, extra-special preparation that promises to make your holiday season especially “lit” this year.
Feuerzangenbowle (pronounced “FOY-yer-tsang-en-bowl-eh”) is a traditional German punch that combines mulled wine with equal parts theater and flavor. Translating to “fire tong punch,” the drink gets prepared in a special fondue pot, with a flaming, rum-soaked sugar cone suspended above it.
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The drink gets its name from special tongs called feuerzange (literally “fire tongs”) that German imbibers traditionally used to hold the slow-burning cone above the mulled wine. Nowadays, most people invest in a separate piece of equipment: a metal bridge similar to an absinthe spoon that holds the burning cone in place above the simmering liquid. (Which is a good thing for those preparing the drink, as it takes around 15 to 20 minutes for the sugar to completely caramelize and melt.)
When making Feuerzangenbowle, rum selection is essential. The liquor of choice should be at room temperature and contain at least 54 percent ABV in order for the soaked sugar cone to ignite and burn. As for wine, like standard mulled wine, it’s good to start out with something fruity but not too sweet. Merlot is a great option.
If all of this has you shouting “JA!”, well, rest assured that preparing the drink is actually much easier than its complex name is to pronounce. What’s more, Feuerzangenbowle fondue sets and sugar cones are readily available on Amazon. You can also improvise with an absinthe spoon and a couple of sugar cubes.
- 8 ounces dark rum (at least 54 percent ABV)
- 2 bottles dry red wine (Merlot, for example)
- 1 sugar cone
- 2 oranges
- 2 lemons
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 pinch ground ginger
- 1 pinch allspice
- Juice one lemon and one orange, before cutting the remaining fruit into thin slices.
- Combine in a pan with red wine and spices. Heat over a medium flame until hot, but not boiling.
- Remove pan from flame and transfer punch into Feuerzangenbowle set. Light candle
beneath to maintain temperature.
- Place sugar cone into the metal holder and soak with rum. Take care not to let excess rum drip into the mulled wine.
- Carefully light the sugar cone. Achtung! The alcohol’s high ABV makes the sugar highly flammable. If you want to keep your eyebrows, make sure you stand well back when lighting.
- If the flame goes out at any point, add extra rum to the sugar cone using a long-handled ladle until the sugar melts completely.
- Stir the punch and ladle into mugs or heatproof glasses.