Africa Two festive holiday beverages with cinnamon stick garnish

Published on December 5th, 2019 | by Daniel Nikulin

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Holiday Beverages Around the World

Think you know your holiday drinks? Think again. 

We’re all familiar with Europe’s boozy mulled wine, the UK’s fast-acting Hot Toddies and our very own Egg Nog, but have you ever wondered what countries in Africa, Asia or the Caribbean enjoy around the holidays? If you’re bored with your holiday drink recipes and want to surprise a guest or two, get festive with these, our list of the best holiday beverages from around the world. Please enjoy responsibly.

 

Tsokolate Tablea – Philippines

Pouring a cup of Filipino holiday beverage Tsokolate Tablea

This rich Filipino sipper is defined by the thick, barely-melted chocolate tablets that give the drink its name. For a true tablea, you’ll need the locally grown cocoa beans. Ground them with sugar into a paste and shape the mixture into small tablets. Add boiling water and you’ve got the strongest hot chocolate you have ever tasted. No cocoa powder here, folks. Using the actual cocoa bean makes this drink to-die-for. The best part? This decadent masterpiece is typically served during breakfast. Can there be a better way to start a holiday morning?   

 

Ponche Navideno – Mexico

Glass of Mexican holiday beverage Ponche Navideno

Got some fruit just lying around? Perfect, you can make a delicious Mexican Christmas Punch. Sweet and loaded with fruit and cinnamon, this is a versatile recipe that can vary based on what’s on hand. Traditionally, tejocotes (Mexican crabapples), guavas, apples, pears and oranges are mixed with water and dried tamarind and prunes, flavoured with cinnamon, hibiscus and Piloncillo (raw sugar cane). Served with or without alcohol (tequila or rum), Ponche Navideno is an essential part of Christmas in Mexico.

 

Sahlab – Egypt/Lebanon/Middle East

Glass of Middle Eastern holiday Beverage Sahlab topped with nuts

Thick and creamy with a divine vanilla flavour, this classic celebratory milk pudding is enjoyed widely across Egypt and the Middle East. Sahlab is actually the starchy flour thickening the drink made from ground orchid flowers. There are many variations based on where you may be and you can expect everything from crushed nuts and shredded coconut to toasted sesame seeds and raisins as toppings. The comforting drink usually served warm is a perfect winter dessert that is fairly healthy, too. 

 

Cioccolata Calda – Italy

Cup of rich Italian holiday beverage Cioccolata Calda

The world’s first hot chocolate may have been born in South America but Italy (and the Philippines – see above) mastered it. Italian Cioccolata Calda is dense and creamy, a drinkable chocolate pudding, really. The secret is in a slurry made using milk and cornstarch that’s added to simmering cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of salt. The result is an ultra-thick chocolaty dream that should make your spoon stand in attention. Looking to indulge? This is your drink.

 

Sorrel Punch – Caribbean

Glass of Caribbean holiday beverage Sorrel Punch

It’s safe to say that holidays in the Caribbean wouldn’t be the same without Sorrel Punch. Showcasing exotic spices and dried sorrel (also known as hibiscus or Jamaica Flowers), it has a unique bitter flavour and can be an acquired taste. Brown sugar, cloves, allspice berries, ginger and cinnamon sticks are all commonly added, along with lemon juice and oranges, and white rum, of course. Drink up! Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants that will help the morning after.      

 

Sujeonggwa – South Korea

Cup of South Korean holiday beverage Sujeonggwa

SuJeongGwa, or Korean Cinnamon Punch, is a sweet cinnamon hug. Its dark reddish-brown colour comes from gotgam (dried persimmon), simmered with sugar, ginger and cinnamon sticks. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and is often garnished with pine nuts. This simple and fabulous dessert drink often replaces tea in the winter months keeping the cold at bay.  

 

Sbiten – Russia

Two glasses of Russian holiday beverage Sbiten with garnish

When the weather turns cold in Russia, locals get smitten with Sbiten, a deliciously spicy honey drink. It’s been around since the 12th century and is still sold on street corners to help warm freezing passers-by. Deep purple in appearance and either very spicy and/or very sweet, depending on the recipe, Sbiten is often used to remedy colds and sore throats, too, but traditionally, the wintertime favourite is enjoyed by the masses, especially around the holidays.  

 

Ginja (Ginger) Beer – Central-West Africa/Caribbean

Cold glass of African holiday beverage Ginger Beer

From Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria and Sierra Leone, ginger beer is more than just a holiday drink. It’s Africa’s ‘soda’, their ‘pop’, their soft drink of choice. But it’s no ginger ale (or beer for that matter). African ginger beer is much stronger than our ginger ale and the locally grown ginger root has everything to do with it. Its fiery kick will warm you up in a hurry and you won’t have to look hard to find it, be it in Gabon or Cameroon. 

 

Cola De Mono – Chile

Two glasses of Chilean holiday beverage Cola De Mono

Literally translating to ‘monkey’s tail’, this classic Christmas favourite of Chile is similar to a White Russian. Like most holiday beverages on this list, there are many versions, but the classic contains aguardiente (a rustic grape spirit – swap with brandy), milk, sugar, coffee and cloves. Cola de Mono, or colemono, is the perfect creamy cocktail to toast friends and family with.

 

 

Looking to taste the most authentic versions of these holiday favourites? We can get you there! Reach out to our Expert Travellers by calling 1855 796 8359 or by visiting your nearest Flight Centre store.

 

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About the Author

Daniel Nikulin

Daniel Nikulin turned his love of travel into a living and has worked for Flight Centre in various capacities since the late 90’s. Currently an in-house copywriter, Daniel uses his industry experience to bridge the gap between travel professional and professional traveller. When he’s not abroad with a pen in hand, he spends his time with his band and cat, Leroy.



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