When we think about December, a collection of traditions, beverages and dishes come to our mind. In many countries in the Northern hemisphere people drink hot beverages and high-calorie dishes to fight low temperatures. In other countries, there are always some kind of traditional dishes and drinks that stand out.
In Venezuela and in some parts of the Caribbean we have ponche crema (also called rompope or coquito depending in the region). Ponche shares some similarities with eggnog, a well-known alcoholic drink in the States. The percentage of alcohol in ponche is not very high and depending on the recipe it can be considered more of a dessert than an alcoholic beverage.
Starting from the beginning of November you can try ponche almost everywhere; whenever you visit family and friends you know there will be ponche. It’s very common for families to prepare their own ponche, in fact, recipes vary from family to family, thus, turning them into that kind of top secret information that you’re not allowed to mention not even to your friends. Something similar happens with hallacas (called tamales in other countries). Each family has its own recipe and everybody secretly competes for the title of the best hallaca or the best ponche of the season.
For those who are curious to know what kind of drink can trigger such competitive spirit, I’ll leave you with one ponche crema recipe (taken from recipe.dominica-weekly.com):
* 1 tin condensed milk
* 1 cup rum
* 6 eggs
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* Few drops lime juice
* Angostura bitters
* Freshly grated nutmeg
Combine the first five ingredients in a blender. Pour into glasses filled with crushed ice. Sprinkle a couple of drops of bitters on top, then garnish with grated nutmeg.