23 December 2009

Die Feuerzangenbowle

Loosely, die Feuerzangenbowle translates to Fire Tongs Bowl.  I was introduced to this beverage by several coworkers.  They were discussing the upcoming Christmas party for the younger crowd within the department, and I got to hear all about this crazy drink.  And, of course, fire perked my interest.  

Die Feuerzangenbowle is also a movie.  It's a strange movie about a poet who pretends to be a student again in order to play tricks on all the teachers (he was schooled by tutors, so never had the chance to be a prankster as a kid).   Anyway, the movie opens with old men surrounding a Feuerzangenbowle, and the joke is that most Germans don't know the end of the movie because everyone is too drunk from their own Feuerzangenbowle to remember the end.  Hubby and I had the joy of experiencing die Feuerzangenbowle at the Christmas party, both the movie and the beverage.  The movie is in German (with no English subtitles), but one of the PhD students found the subtitles in English online and actually put it together with the movie.  From my little German, I could tell that the subtitles were either slightly ahead or slightly behind throughout the movie, but that just added to the drunken fun.  Okay, so actually the beverage isn't that great in taste, so none of us were drunk.  We watched through the whole movie, so I actually know the end!  But I guess that makes me a bad German...

Without further ado... the recipe.

3 bottles of dry red wine (2-3 liters total)
2 cinnamon sticks
1-2 oranges
1-2 lemons
5 cloves

Zuckerhut/Sugar Cone
1 German sugar cone/loaf (a giant cone shaped sugar cube)
1 bottle of rum

1. In a large pot or kettle filled with red wine, add cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and allspice. Cut up the oranges and lemons (optional: make peel spirals), crush fruit to release the juice, and add to the punch along with the cloves. Warm to a steaming mixture. Do not boil!
2. Place a German sugar cone (Zuckerhut, sugar loaf) on a metal rack/screen or clamped in metal tongs above the warm punch. (Substitute sugar cubes if you can't get a Zuckerhut.) Slowly pour high-proof rum over the Zuckerhut or sugar cubes and let soak for a minute. Carefully light the Zuckerhut or sugar cubes and let the flaming sugar carmelize and drip into the punch mix. Add rum as needed to keep the flame going until the Zuckerhut process is done. Serve the punch hot in mugs or hot-tea glasses. 

This recipe is very close to the one we followed.  We left out the cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice, but added the lemons, clementines, and cloves (put the cloves into the lemon slices so you don't choke on them when you are drinking your beverage!).  Make sure you have a dry wine to start, otherwise you will end up with an sickly sweet drink that is basically undrinkable.  

In the movie, the old men drank from the punch bowl while the sugar as still flaming.  We, on the other hand, let the sugar burn completely before we had any because our bowl was too small (among other reasons).  I recommend getting a bowl large enough to serve and flame because it's not a quick process to flame an entire sugar cone, and the novelty of fire wears off pretty quickly (especially if you're afraid of the fire department coming).  

Overall, I'd say die Feuerzangenbowle is a fun experience, the drink okay (a LOT like mulled wine... just look at the ingredients), and the company makes it worth it.  Would I do it again?  Perhaps, but only if there were newbies around and we had the proper setup.

I took this one with the flash so you could see the setup.  Here you see big end of the cone and you can also see the piece of metal that is stretched across the bowl.  You can also see the color of the flames.

Fire is fun!  :)


  1. The fire is pretty impressive. As you said, probably better for newbies. If you had left all the spices in, it might have tasted better. The recipe did sound a lot like mulled wine of which I'm not a huge fan. Just give me hot spiced apple cider and I'm happy. I really like Trader Joe's version. It's easy!

  2. I actually don't care for mulled wine either... the combination of spices just doesn't appeal to me. It's why I generally don't care for apple pie or apple cider. Part of the issue with our bowl is that I don't like sweet wine, and this one was pretty sweet since we started with semi-sweet wine. My goal is to live within 10 minutes of a Trader Joe's one day... ;)

  3. Is the sugar just there to flame or is it sweetening the mixture as it burns? Does the mixture taste burnt or does it caramelize? The flame looks awesome and terrible at once to me. I'm glad you all were able to keep it contained!

  4. what a fun drink
    Merry Christmas


  5. @ Tabs: The sugar carmelizes and falls into the beverage, which is why it is best to start with a dry red wine instead of a sweet red wine.

    @ Rebecca: Thank you! Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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