Logan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch and Tacolicious, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over ten years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That’s to record his pontifications on the drink industry.
I normally love winter in Shanghai. There are the markets, the amplified brightness of the neon-lit overpasses, Ned Kelly’s bloated, bleary-eyed winter-themed trivia, Santa hats at Manhattan in February and magical mulled wine. Every bar and saloon worth its salt in Shanghai has perfected individual recipes, but the Coronavirus blues means that most of those places are closed. This got me thinking about drinking steamy spiced wine at home, and of course, history.
Thanks to the state of the art research team provided by That’s Shanghai, I was able to do an extensive (quick bing.com search) on the roots of this intoxicating concoction. The Germans have gluhwein, the Russians have glintvein, Bulgarians have greyano vino and Italians have vin brule. In the American South, there’s wassail, and even little Greta Thunberg gets to drink a carbon neutral glogg – a Swedish variation. There’s more, but readers, you get the drift.
According to my assistants on the That’s global team, the Greek father of medicine Hippocrates created it as a health tonic. Makes good sense when you consider that drinking water back then was a fast track to diarrhea – and la duzi was a death sentence in those halcyon days. (Just think: a double cheesy gordita crunch from Taco Bell in the 14th century would have been the apocalypse, and a 4am McDonald's fish fillet would have killed millions in the 1600s.)
In the first century, the Romans called it conditum parduxum, and recipes by a Roman gourmand called Apicius date back to that era. The Romans kept up the tradition of mixing herbs, honey and citrus with wine as they marched through Europe, and so the trend stuck. In the medieval period of Europe, actual pre-made packets called Hippocras, with herbs and whatnot, were sold in markets all over – not unlike today’s Christmas and winter markets.
Image via Pixabay
Mulled wine’s popularity then wavered throughout Europe, threatening to disappear like a Mexican magician doing a magic trick saying, “uno, dos,” and then disappearing without a “tres.” After pausing to let my editor collect herself due to my second ‘oh, Logan’ joke of the year, let’s rejoice that the Swedish glogg and Charles Dickens kept mulled wine alive. The latter, literary ODB, insured its perpetuity by having characters drink it in the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. So raise your mug to the life lesson that it’s cool to treat people like trash for most of your life as long as you are kind of cool near the end.
These days, you can find a bunch of different variations of this well-documented drink – mostly involving heated red wine, citrus, spices and a dab of sugar. While you can easily find Ancient Greek recipes online, ingredients like mastic (tree resin) might be hard to find. I’ll leave you with a modern variation.
Logan’s Mulled Wine
¾ liters of medium-dry white wine
170g clear honey
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
A pinch of saffron
Maple syrup, to taste
1 fresh date (roast the stone for 10 min and soak the flesh in wine)
2 shots of Fernet
1 shot of Jameson
Like most of my recipes, this one starts with a shot of Fernet for you, because you deserve it. Next, mix the honey with an equal amount of wine and boil. Skim, repeat and add spices while hot. Leave the spices in to steep as the mixture cools overnight. You will probably need another shot by now, so hit up the Jamo, then order a pizza. When you wake up with sleep in your eyes, you will be amazed that your booze is ready to consume. Call your parents to let them know life is great in China despite the coronavirus and then make plans to do some exercise, but order tacos instead. Oh, snap, you still have one last shot of Fernet. Do that, then strain your mulled wine through some muslin cloth and enjoy. It should taste like Fernet and cold pizza.
[Cover image courtesy of Pixabay]
See more of Logan's columns here.