The Christkindl and the Punsch


End November, beginning December is the time when the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas markets) open all over the city of Vienna. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. The Budyšin Christmas market was first being mentioned in records in 1384. (Budyšin is a hill-top town in eastern Saxony, Germany, on the border to the Check Republic. But the Vienna “December market” was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294.

So, there we have it. Vienna has the oldest tradition of Christmas Markets …. sort of ….

Now, here I was, November just about to finish, cold, and just off the plane. What do you do? You do as the romans … in my case as the Viennese do, and head down to the Christkindlmarkt. Just in time for evening twilight.

The “Wiener Christkindlmarkt” is right in front of City Hall. It is a pretty sight. Not christmasy enough for my taste yet, but who cares. Every year it seem these markets start a bit earlier. It almost seems we are about to miss Christmas. Not that we still have almost four weeks to get into the spirit of things.

And just to make sure, the next day I headed down to the Freyung, to the “Alt Wiener Christkindlmarket”. During day light, these markets are not a particular pretty sight. Just a few tourist trying to “do” as many as they can, during their stay. Almost like me ….

A different market was the “Fescn’n markt” at the Ottakringer Beer brewery, which gave artists an outlet to sell their wares. Very retro but cute and vibrant.

Schloss Schönbrunn, the most visited site in Vienna, has one of the nicest Christkindl market. It is spacious, and located right in front of the castle. It is this backdrop, which gives it this majestic flair. It is this location, which makes it probably also one of the coldest location in Vienna for a market. It has a constant breeze, and at this time of the year makes it pretty cold.

This is where Glühwein and Punsh ….

mulled wine, vin brulé, Gløgg, Glögg, greyano vino, kuhano vino,svařené víno, forralt bor, karstvīns, izvar, grzane wino, grzane piwo, vin fiert, Глинтвейн, Sıcak Şarap

…. comes in. Fortunately it warms you up. But this is where the pleasure stops for me. I have tasted a few last week, and the ALL TASTE THE SAME. Now, how boring is that. It is almost like there is only one recipe, and just a handful of deviations of that. Needless to say after day tree I had enough and stopped drinking it. NO, NO, NO, I did not stop drinking it, I just stopped buying it and made my own.

And what goes better with Glühwein than Lebkuchen. The Egyptians, Greek and Romans already made Honey Cake. It is heaven on earth. I am in the fortunate position, that I know how to make this incredibly delicious bread. And I do not talk about commercial Ginger bread, nor do I talk about those over spiced cookies you find in all sorts of convenient stores. What I am talking about is this soft and almost buttery spiced cake, only a very few can make ….

Elisenlebkuchen, Honiglebkuchen, Früchtelebkuchen, Baseler Lebkuchen, Nusslebkuchen, Gefüllte Lebkuchen, Florentiner Lebkuchen, ….

…. and the list goes on. So, if you find yourself in Vienna, just before Christmas, DO NOT forget to pick up some Lebkuchen. And do not forget …. Lebkuchen is meant to be shared. In the meantime enjoy  some

Wiener Glühwein

        • 500 ml Water
        • 2 b- 3 tblsp Ceylon tea
        • ½ Orange
        • ½ Lemon
        • 1 bot good Red wine (Zweigelt
        • 100 g Sugar
        • 3 whole cinnamon stick
        • 10 cloves
        • 1 vanilla pod
        • 1 star anise
        • 1 pod cardamom
        • 125 m l fresh orange juice
        • 40 ml Apricot schnaps
        • 80 ml Amaretto
        • 60 ml Rum (30 %)
        • 4 Sugar cubes
        • 4 Slices of orange
        • 60 ml Rum (80 %)
        • Bring water and Ceylon tea to a boil
        • Slice the orange and lemon and add to the tea
        • Add the spices an let simmer for a few seconds
        • Add the red wine and sugar, and bring back to almost a simmer
        • Pour in Schnaps, Amaretto und Rum
        • Heat until foam forms on the top but do not boil
        • Taste, and add spice if needed
        • Pour into mugs
        • On each mug place one slice of orange
        • Drip 80% Rum onto the sugar cubes and place them onto the orange slices
        • Ignite the rum and let the sugar melt into the Glühwein

Published by ChefThomas

… born in Upper Austria’s Wels, I have done most of my growing up in Vienna. Only by sheer accident did I fall into the trade of Pâtissier. After a short apprentice ship at a Viennese Bakery, I was accepted for apprentice ship, at "K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel’s Söhne", one of the oldest patisseries in Vienna. Learning the trade from the very basics, as the Emperor two Centuries ago would have expected from a "Pâtissier to the Royal and Imperial Court" (That is what the older Pâtissier still calls himself). I soon took to travel the world. From patisseries in America, to hotels in the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, did I accumulate a wealth of experience, ranging from bakeries to first class restaurants in major hotels to banquets for Presidents, Sultans and Heads of States and other famous, infamous and not so famous people. But the true excitement for me is in the "Viennese Café". Not just as an occupation, but as an institution in it own right.

2 thoughts on “The Christkindl and the Punsch

  1. I really like all your pictures here, looks like the Christmas market is a lot of fun! What better way to take the chill off than with Gluhwein. All those spices and flavors in your recipe no doubt makes for a delicious drink. Great post.


    1. Vienna is such a delightful decadent city. The christmas markets are there to re-enforce this it seems sometimes, and a Glühwein really makes the world round after a days work.


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