Jay Chou, one of the most iconic Chinese pop music artists for the post-80s and 90s generations. His music can always pinpoint and reflect your emotions and thoughts. On the 20th anniversary of his first album, he released a single Mojito that went viral on the internet with his typical music style featuring an integration of Chinese and Western elements. The relaxed and dynamic melodies showing rich Latin American characteristics and the sweet lyrics expressing love remind you of the beautiful memories in the youth.
After the single was released on June 12, a wave of “Mojito fever” started spreading online as people were sharing photos of sipping mojito in the bars, cafes or equally exquisite homemade cocktails on social media. Havana, Cuba, home of mojito, made the travel lists of more people. While on the other side of the planet, on the vast land of Northern Europe, what drinks are brewed here?
Since prehistoric time, cereals have been the most important source of food in Scandinavia and there were many ways of using it – boil to porridge, bake bread, as ingredients in other foods and of course, ferment it to make beer. The beverages have been developing for a long time, though many have remained almost the same; mjöd made of honey, beer and julmust from malt, schnapps from grain or potatoes, etc.
电影《贝奥武夫》（2007）剧照 From Movie Beowulf (2007)
Image by Meritt Thomas
Mjöd, or mead in English, is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey, water and yeast, the Vikings’ favorite. Different herbs, fruits, grains or spices can be added to create various flavors. In the epic poem Beowulf, the hero of Geats, a tribe in modern southern Sweden, aided the king of the Danes to defeat monster Grendel. The place where they held feasts and drank mjöd were called “mead hall”. In China, records of mead can date back to BC 780 during the Western Zhou dynasty in the emperor’s banquets. It was popular during the Tang and Song dynasties – as recorded in Compendium of Materia Medica by Li Shizhen in the Ming dynasty, Sun Simiao, the King of Medicine in China, used mead to treat diseases such as rubella.
Diki-Diki – www.kronanpunsch.com
Doctor’s Cocktail – www.kronanpunsch.com
In January 1733, sailors of the Swedish East India Company found Batavia Arrack, a double pot-stilled “rum” based on sugarcane molasses on an unplanned stop in Batavia (now Jakarta) on the Island of Java, Indonesia. For the long sail back to Gothenburg, “punch” was created, and so was the tradition of Swedish Punsch. Punsch consists of spirit (Batavia Arrack), sugar, citrus/acidic wine, spice/tea and water. A glass of warm punsch with ärtsoppa—pea and ham soup—was a common Thursday-night tradition；even today, special occasions are frequently toasted with punsch.
Glögg, or mulled wine, is a warm beverage best enjoyed during the cold weeks leading up to Christmas. It tastes even better if you drink it with gingerbread snaps. As a popular feature at Swedish outdoors Christmas fairs, glögg is usually made of red wine, sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and optionally also stronger spirits such as vodka or brandy. There are non-alcoholic versions as well. Glögg can be bought ready-made in cups or bottles, or made from prepared spice packages, or from scratch. In Sweden, this is a beverage consumed almost exclusively during the Christmas season, usually with raisins and blanched almonds added.
小龙虾派对 Crayfish Party – Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se
Schnapps has been distilled in Sweden since the late 1400s. It was first used as a medication and herbs and spices were added to increase the salutary effects. Schnapps became more commonplace in the 1600s and has been a part of Swedish culinary traditions. Still the Swedish people commence both Christmas and Midsummer feast with herring, bread, cheese and schnapps spiced mostly with anise, fennel or cumin, followed by traditional drinking songs.
Malt Beer 麦芽啤酒
Image by Pasi Mämmelä
According to the famous Swedish food researcher Richard Tellström, it requires six times more malt and therefore cereals to make strong beer, so it is only used at feasts; slåtteröl (harvest beer), gravöl (funeral beer), barnsöl (baptizing beer) and most importantly, julöl (Christmas beer). Svagdricka (weak beer) is served for daily use and is still common at Christmas.
Image by Aurelie Luylier
Must is still one of the most popular non alcoholic malt beverages for feasts in Sweden, made of malt, hop and a variety of spices. And julmust (Christmas must) was launched in the beginning of last century as an alternative to beer and schnapps. It is called påskmust during Easter and sommarmust around Midsummer.
Drinking is wide spread in these cold latitudes and large quantities of potatoes and cereals that could have been used as food are distilled in almost every household. In the beginning of the 19th century, the first organization for moderate drinking was created. A little later, in 1914, rationing was imposed which lasted until 1955, when Systembolaget was founded as a part of the sobriety movement, a special shop only for alcoholic beverages which had limited opening hours and only sold to people over 21 years old.
烈酒博物馆 Museum of Spirits – Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se
Even with strong influences from the Mediterranean wine culture, many smaller local breweries are arising with both traditional old recipes and newer creations besides the world famous Absolut Vodka manufactured in southern Sweden. So the deep rooted traditions continue to develop.
Skål / Cheers / 干杯！- Janus Langhorn/imagebank.sweden.se
Richard Tellström (food researcher)
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