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Drinking & Dancing

Gluhwein Time
By Catherine Santore
Issue 4
March 4 - April 8, 2004

Popular in Europe and especially well-loved in Austria, gluhwein can vary in both its ingredients and name. The most common variety has cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar added to heated wine.

As it’s a cold weather drink, it may come as no surprise that Moscow has adopted it as its own — many local restaurants, bars and cafes now serve gluhwein, commonly calling it “glintvein” in Russian.

When gluhwein is sold in steaming coffee mugs on the street in Vienna, warmth and taste win out over elegance. And the best part of drinking mulled wine with gloved hands is the first few gulps of the alcohol-laced fumes.


Art Cafe Sad

An attractive presentation with pieces of apple, lemon and lime floating on top and a small dessert fork for scooping up the fruit. While nicely hot, this drink was little more than wine with added sugar — the spices were lacking. I was a little puzzled at the choice of sour fruit in my drink and left it as a fruity sludge at the bottom. Nonetheless, this was still a tasty drink and was complemented by freshly roasted chestnuts. The handle on the glass mug was rather inconveniently placed, forcing me to wrap my hands around the hot glass.

Price: 140 rubles.


Cafe Maner

After a big gulp of alcoholic steam, I sipped this delicately spiced concoction and watched the men in suits and women in fancy furs at this centrally-located, upscale cafe. Whole cloves and a cinnamon stick floated in the glass, as well as tiny pieces of orange rind. While they imparted a very pleasant flavor, it was more than a little annoying to have to keep fishing them out of my mouth. With a price just slightly higher than Donna Clara’s more superb version, Cafe Maner offers an excellent choice.

Price: 190 rubles.


Gogol Mogol

This warm, snug cafe serves up the most expensive gluhwein sampled in this comparison, but I didn’t know that until the bill came because it wasn’t on the menu. Though it was the hottest, it was also the weakest gluhwein of the four. The wine had a few stray pieces of citrus pulp floating on top, like a lemon had been squeezed over it. It was low on sugar (which may not be important if you also order dessert) and also on spices — although when I drained my glass, I found a spicy sludge. While tasty, the quality didn’t justify the price.

Price: 250 rubles.


Donna Clara

When the usual price of a mug of gluhwein from a sidewalk vendor in Vienna is about 3 euros, 170 rubles didn’t seem a steep price to pay to sit in a warm cafe and watch the snow falling outside in this cafe’s historic, prestigious Patriarch Ponds locale. Perfectly spiced and not overly sweet, this gluhwein was so delicious that it transported me back to Christmastime in Vienna. The only real minus was the temperature — when it arrived it was already cooler than a fresh cup of tea. An odd touch to the presentation was the lemon slice for decoration and the packet of sugar served on the side.

Price: 170 rubles.

Art Cafe Sad
3 Bolshoi Tolmachyovsky Per. (M. Tretyakovskaya)
239-9009, 10am-midnight

Cafe Maner
5 Petrovka Ul. (M. Tverskaya)
775-1969, 10am-midnight

Donna Clara
21/13 Malaya Bronnaya Ul. (M. Mayakovskaya)
290-3848/6974, 10am-11pm, Sun. noon-11pm

6 Gagarinsky Per. (M. Kropotkinskaya)
203-5506/9233, 10am-11pm


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