6 winter warming drinks to try in Switzerland
The chilly winter days in Switzerland always require some warming drinks to go along with them. There are plenty of family-friendly options to try, as well as some alcoholic treats just for us parents. Whether it is at a Christmas market, after a winter hike, or a long day on the piste, warm up with these 6 winter warming drinks this Swiss winter.
For the whole family
Punsch goes hand in hand with Swiss childhood and is the warm version of the sweet “sirup” that is served during the year. The normally fruit-flavoured syrups are poured into hot water and enjoyed after a day of sledding or skiing, or anytime the kids have been outdoors and there’s a chill in the air. Traditional flavours of apple, orange (my favourite) and rum (non-alcoholic, but double check before serving the kids!) are most often seen, but flavours only stop with your imagination - or syrup flavours you might have on hand.
Tip: Fill up a thermos full of punsch as an energy boosting treat midway through your ski day.
Make at home: Punsch can be made with any flavoured syrup. In Switzerland pre-made punsch flavoring can be purchased as syrup or in power form for easy transportation.
For the parents: If you want to make your Punsch a little more exciting, then add a drop of schnapps (the Swiss call this adult option “mit Schuss”).
2. Hot chocolate
Ok, Switzerland is the land of chocolate after all, so a steaming mug of hot chocolate has to be on the list. Heisse Schoggi or Heisse Schokolade is what you are looking for on the menu and it can be served a few different ways.
Made from chocolate powder: The more simple and common way to find hot chocolate in Switzerland is chocolate powder mixed in with steaming hot milk. Pre-made chocolate powder can be found from brands such as the famous Caotina (read more about it here), Succhard, and for a more malty flavour, Ovomaltine. This has be the go to winter drink for kids. Ask for the option “mit schlagrahm” for a generous helping of whipped cream on the side.
Made from pure chocolate: This is what you want to look out for and comes in a variety of different options but the best is to look for hot chocolate “hausgemacht” (homemade). Places famous for pure hot chocolate are Sprüngli and Cafte Schober in Zurich where a hot chocolate can set you back at least 7/8chf. Is it worth it? How much do you like chocolate?!
Tip: The Girlfriend Guide to Zurich has a list of the best Hot Chocolates in Zurich.
Make at home: We leave hot chocolate consumption for visits to cafes but why not try this Hot Chocolate recipe from David Bovitz. Although Belgian, substitute with your favourite Swiss chocolate!
3. Warm Apple Juice
Switzerland, in particular the canton of Thurgau, is famous for its apples and so local apple jucie or Süssmost is widely available. SFT editor Pamela turns the traditional Swiss apple juice into something more festive and warming each winter by infusing apple juice with traditional Christmas spices such as star anise, cloves and a cinnamon stick and simmers it on the stove for about 20 minutes.
Tip: Make ahead before your guests arrive and they will be greeted with a wonderful smell when they enter your home.
For the parents: Pamela turns her festive warm Apple juice into a special adult treat by adding a good portion of salted caramel vodka into a mug before she adds the infused apple mix.
Just for the parents:
The December favourite, but available all winter long is the spiced red wine, Glühwein. The Christmas spiced Glühwein will warm you up from head to toe and is widely available at all Christmas markets, cafes and restaurants during the winter season. Look out for Glühwein served in special mugs at Christmas markets across the country - a nice souvenir to bring home, or you can return it after you have enjoyed your drink for a refund.
Make at home: Thanks to a recipe from my friend Shona, here is her fabulous Glühwein recipe to try
Recipe for Glühwein from Shona
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup (125g) brown sugar - or white sugar with a tablespoon of molasses
20 whole cloves
4 star anise
4 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bea pod scored down the middle
2 750ml bottles of merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 shot glasses of hazelnut or almond liqueur (optional but delicious)
Remove the zest of the oranges with a peeler. Keep aside.
Juice the oranges and discard the outsiders. Keep juice aside.
Saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients, boil the water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the orange zest and juice, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla pod (if using)
Turn the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. The sugary syrup should thicken slightly.
Add the wine, turn the heat down to simmer and cook for another 30 mins.
Strain your wine through a sieve, return it to the heat and add the shots of hazelnut or almond liqueur.
Tip: Shona is one clever lady and is known for filling up her Thermos full of her delicious Glühwein to take along and share at outdoor festivities.
A long winter hike isn’t complete without warming up afterwards with a Schümlipflümli - coffee laced with clear plum brandy and topped with lashings of whipped cream. There are also other variations of the Schumlipflumli, such as one laced with Baileys or Ameretto.
Make at home: In a tall coffee glass add a portion of Zwetschge Schnapps (plum) with a normal sized coffee. Top the coffee of with whipped cream
6. Kafi Lutz/Fertig/Schnapps
You know you have made a Kafi Lutz correctly when you can see through it, so you can imagine there isn’t much coffee actually in it. This traditional drink that smells more like alcohol than coffee can be found at festivals, restaurants and bars all year long in Switzerland. Traditionally made with two sugars (but I always ask for 1), boiling hot water, a knife tip of instant coffee powder and a generous glug of your favourite Swiss schnapps - I’m not fussy and like to swap between Kirsch (cherry) and Zwetschgen (Plum). There are variations of the name of this drink around the country: Kafi Luz, Kafi Fertig, Kafi Schnapps - all depending on which region you are ordering in! I guess this topic needs a whole other blogpost.
Tip: Before you drink don’t forget to mix the sugar, take out the spoon and cheers with those you are drinking with.
Make at home: 1/2 sugars, a knife tip of instand coffee powder, a good knip of your schnapps of choice and then pour in the boiling water.