A Flaming German Holiday Punchbowl

Thursday, December 12, 2013

As the weather grows colder and Christmas approaches, I look forward eagerly to one of my favorite holiday traditions.  Feuerzangenbowle, which I’m told translates to “hot tong punch or hot punch bowl,” is a time-honored holiday tradition in Germany.

I was first introduced to it at a holiday gathering of friends five years ago, and it quickly became one of our yearly traditions.  Much stronger than its more widely known counterpart, mulled wine (or Glühwein), flaming hot tong punch packs quite a kick, and sets the holiday spirit alight.

Feuerzangenbowle is commonly enjoyed among friends on a cold night (with no plans to drive afterwards).  My German friends tell me some people watch the traditional movie Die Feuerzangenbowle while consuming this beverage, but I have not yet added that aspect to our tradition.

The recipe is quite simple and may be varied to your taste.


  • 2 (or more) bottles of red wine  (I prefer fruity and spicy wines)
  • Several oranges cut into wedges with whole cloves inserted into the wedges
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cardamom and allspice to taste
  • Lemon, raisins, cranberries and other fruits as desired 
  • Rum (151 proof preferred)
  • 1 Zuckerhut (German sugar cone/loaf) The Zuckerhut can be bought online from a variety of sources, but it is easily homemade as well.  Just take 1 cup of sugar and mix with 1 teaspoon of water until well blended.  Then press into a conical mold (a fluted beer glass would work here) and let dry for a day or two. 


Place all ingredients into a pot and heat without bringing to a boil.  The longer the ingredients simmer together, the stronger the flavor. 

When the mulled wine has melded all the flavors, it’s time for the fire.

Suspend a cone-shaped (or rather Christmas-tree shaped) loaf of sugar above the pot on something nonflammable.  This can be accomplished with metal tongs (thus the name). 

Pour rum over the sugar and light it on fire. The flaming sugar will drip down into the wine in a glorious display of blue and orange flames. The fire dances across the top of the wine before finally extinguishing itself.

After the sugar has all melted into flames, the Feuerzangenbowle can be imbibed for a wonderful night of frivolity and fun.