Make Nordic Holiday Punch for a Crowd

Say cheers in true Scandinavian style with bartender Jacob Grier’s bright, fizzy, aquavit-assisted winter punch.

By Kelly Clarke November 20, 2015 Published in the December 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

1215 punch eaueh4

A star-patterned vintage crystal punch bowl and ladle unearthed by the bar aces at Bull in China sparks conversations with every cup ($15–45, Artist and mathematician Johannes Molin designed Areaware’s basswood Infinite Tree as a twisty double homage to the Scandinavian forests of his childhood and the golden ratio ($45, Vintage Danish Royal Holmegaard Canada glassware lend austere grace to a soirée ($35,

Jacob Grier’s Nordic Holiday Punch

(Serves 10–15)

Aquavit is the Scandinavian go-to spirit for holiday toasts; it’s also a favorite of local bartender and writer Jacob Grier, who founded Portland’s annual celebration devoted to the caraway- and anise-suffused booze. It forms the foundation of Grier’s bright winter punch, which gets a sweet, bubbly boost from Meyer lemons and sparkling wine—all stained a luscious pink with the addition of hibiscus tea.

Steep 4 sachets hibiscus tea in 4 cups of just-boiling water for 5 minutes. (Grier loves Steven Smith Teamaker’s Big Hibiscus, but any high-quality blend will do.) Pluck out sachets, and stir in ¾ cup honey until dissolved. Cover and store the tea-honey mixture in the fridge until fully chilled. Add 2 cups aquavit* and 1 cup fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 4–6 lemons), stir to combine, and store mixture in the fridge until ready to use. Pour aquavit mix in a punch bowl, top with 2 cups chilled sparkling wine, and garnish with thinly sliced wheels of Meyer lemon just before serving. Place an ice block into the punch bowl or ladle into punch glasses filled with ice cubes. 

*Grier recommends Icelandic Brennivin aquavit. Taste-test more Scandi spirits at local bars during PDX’s Aquavit Week, Dec 6–12 (

Cheers To You 

No julbord is complete without a bevy of centuries-old snapsvisor (holiday drinking songs) that urge singers to banish hard times, welcome Santa gnomes, and toss back shots of aquavit. Broder Soder co-owner and native Swede Martin Hulth’s fave? “Helan Går, which literally translates to ‘the whole thing goes’—as in, your whole drink,” he says. “It’s always a hit with Swedes and Americans alike.” Check out Hulth’s English (and phonetic) translation of the classic song, plus an amazing video of Will Ferrell (whose wife is from Sweden) singing Helan Går, below.

Helan Går

Helan går, 
sjung hopp, faderallan lallan lej.
Helan går, 
sjung hopp, faderallan lej. 
Och den som inte helan tar, 
han heller inte halvan får. 
Helan gåååååååååår! 
Sjung hopp, faderallan lej! 

Helan Går Phonetic Translation 

Hell and gore 
Chung hop father allan ley 
Hell and gore chung hop father allan ley 
and hell are in a half and four 
Hell and goooooore ...
Chung hop father allan ley 

Helan Går English Translation

The whole thing goes,
Sing “hop fa-de-ral-lan lal-lan ley,”
The whole thing goes,
Sing “hop fa-de-ral-lan lal-lan ley,”
And for the one that doesn’t take the whole,
He doesn't get the half on either.
The whole thing goooooooeeees....
Sing “hop fa-de-ral-lan ley.”

Will Ferrell singing Helan Går on British late-night TV:

Filed under
Show Comments