8 Drinks to Endure the German Winter

Germany's drink culture isn't all about beer

At about this time each year, many people in Germany are simply over it. Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) have closed up shop, the cold has thoroughly set in and it is a long couple of months til festivities like Erster Mai. The German winter is upon us and it is not so nice.

Following my post on 8 Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Survive the Summer and in the hopes that something warm on the inside will defrost your chilly exterior, here are 8 warm German drinks to endure the winter. 

  • 01 of 08


    ••• Glühwein in Leipzig. Erin Porter

    Glühwein is hard to escape during Christmas market season - and why would you want to? Though some people loudly proclaim that they are not fans of the hot, spiced wine ubiquitous everywhere from markets to Spatis (late-night convenience stores), you can buy a cup for just 1.50-3 euro to keep your hands warm.

    Need more booze to make it through the darkness of winter? Ask for einen shuß (a shot) to up the alcohol and enjoyment. Common add-ins include rum, Kirschwasser (cherry brandy) and amaretto.

  • 02 of 08


    ••• Erin Porter

    Does your holiday drinking require more fire? The traditional Feuerzangenbowle provides!

    Often prepared for Christmas or New Year's Eve (Silvester), consuming this alcoholic drink is part ritual. A Bowle of Glühwein is flavored with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and orange peel and topped with a suspended rum-soaked sugarloaf (Zuckerhut). The sugar is set ablaze and carmelizes before dripping into the wine. Taste the Gemütlichkeit!

    This tradition partly roots from the 1944 comedy, Die Feuerzangenbowle. This film is so popular it is still shown in Tübingen, every December with huge vats of the drink.

  • 03 of 08

    Hot Chocolate

    ••• Heiße Schokolade. Erin Porter

    Steering away from the many alcoholic options is this kid-friendly familiar favorite, hot chocolate (or heiße Schokolade). It tastes like dessert in a cup and is often made with real chocolate.

    If you prefer a more adult beverage, add some Schnapps.

  • 04 of 08


    ••• Sebastian Koppehel - CC-BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46316277
    Similar to eggnog in texture and opinions (you either love it or you hate it), this thick, frothy drink is a winter classic. You'll notice it slowly turning at the Weihnachtsmärkte and being drunk primarily by little old ladies. Its hearty milk, cream, sugar and beaten egg base is augmented by the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg plus rum, brandy, or whisky.
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08


    ••• Kaffee und Kuchen. Erin Porter

    Germany may not be known for its coffee, but the tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen is the revered tradition of taking a break midday to sit down with a piece of cake and some piping hot coffee. And gone are the days of weak filter brew as cities like Berlin embrace coffee culture and trendy drinks like flat white.

    If you find yourself in North Frisia (area between the rivers Eider and Wiedau/Vidå and including the islands of Sylt, Föhr, Amrum, Nordstrand and Heligoland), you should a Pharisäer. This warming coffee drink has a cube of sugar, shot of rum and a thick topping of whipped cream through which it should be drunk. This method of drinking was to cover-up the smell of alcohol from a puritanical pastor.

  • 06 of 08


    Heißer Grog
    ••• Garitzko - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3296474

    Unlike the weak British version of the drink (water and rum), this belly-warming brew has an apple cider base. Throat-soothing elements like lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves and other spices add to the flavor. 

    Often featured at medieval markets, it retains an old-timey character. 

  • 07 of 08
    ••• Jeremy Tarling - Uploaded by LongLiveRock, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12219231
    This hot, spicy punch of cider, citrus and Christmas-y spices is just the thing to perk you up amidst the winter doldrums. The smell alone is enough to put you at ease with sitting inside while the winter waits outside.
  • 08 of 08
    Hops and Barley beer.jpg
    ••• Erin Porter

    A cold beer may not sound like the ideal winter drink, but there is never a bad time to drink beer in Germany. Besides, this drink will keep you warm from the inside if you drink enough of them.

    Try traditional winter beers that are hearty and dark, like a Bock. This type of Starkbier (strong beer) is perfect for the winter season with filling nutrients and a high alcohol content.