Friday, December 18, 2009

Julmust: The Christmas Soda

I love the foods of the holiday season. They suddenly appear one day and they're gone just as quickly, and somehow this makes me love them all the more. It's similar to Girl Scout cookies: if I could get Samoas, Thin Mints and Tagalongs year-round they would almost certainly lose their appeal. Having a food suddenly appear after a long absence makes it totally irresistible.

Damn I want a Samoa right now

Christmas beverages also undergo a similar disappearing act, but partly this is due to the fact that they suit the winter season: hot cider, mulled wine, eggnog all work well with the cold winter weather. This undoubtedly differs in the southern hemisphere — I can't imagine hot apple cider being a popular beverage during the holidays in Australia, for example (correct me if I'm wrong, Australian friends). I also look forward to the seasonal winter beers, often dark and spicy to suit the season, so perhaps it's not so surprising that Julmust, a dark and mysterious Swedish Christmas soda came about.

Julmust is a member of the proud family of beverages resulting from temperance movements around the world, a Scandinavian cousin to root beer, sarsaparilla, cream soda, ginger ale, etc., but probably closest in concept to shandy. It recently popped up next to the Glögg at Cost Plus World Market, often a good source for unusual sodas, so I had to give it a try. As a lover of sodas, I'm sorry to say that shandies really don't float my ice cream, so to speak, so the ingredients of Julmust made me a bit worried. If I want something to taste like beer, I'll drink beer not beer-flavored soda.

Mmm, hops and malted barley soda.

Luckily, the sugar and powerful artificial flavorings mostly overwhelm the beery elements of Julmust and it's actually a fairly pleasant if somewhat artificial-tasting soda. If I had to approximate a recipe of Julmust, it would be something like this:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Andy's Pseudo-Julmust

10 oz. Coca Cola
2 oz. Grape Soda
1 oz. Tonic Water
1 oz. Orange Gatorade
1 oz. Pellegrino SanBitter
A splash of Hubba-Bubba Bubblegum Soda

Combine ingredients, let sit until half of the carbonation has been lost, bottle and slap an out-of-focus Santa label on it. Drink and be festive.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On the plus side, Julmust doesn't taste like beer-soda, in fact it mostly just tastes like a fruity spin on cola. If Dr. Pepper had a Swedish cousin, say perhaps Björn Peppar, he would probably taste like Julmust. Is Julmust Christmasy? Does it taste like Winter? Not to me honestly, but then I didn't grow up with it to form those associations, so who am I to judge?

No comments: