Feuerzangenbowle - what is it exactly?

Feuerzangenbowle (German: [ˈfɔʏɐtsaŋənˌboːlə]) is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine.


It is mainly part of a Christmas or New Year ´s Eve tradition. It is a traditional drink of some German fraternities. The name translates literally to fire-tongs punch.


The popularity of the drink was boosted in Germany by the 1944 film comedy "Die Feuerzangenbowle" with Heinz Rühmann.



Feuerzangenbowle is prepared in a bowl, which usually is suspended over a small burner (rechaud) or a fireplace in our case.


The bowl is filled with heated dry red wine, rum, mulled wine spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, oranges and lemos.

The Feuerzange was originally a pair of tongs, but nowadays it is common for a purpose-designed metal grate mounted on top of the bowl to hold the Zuckerhut (sugarloaf or literally "sugar hat"), a sugar cone around seven inches long. The sugar is soaked with rum and set alight, melting and caramelizing.

The rum should have at least 54% alcohol per volume and be at room temperature in order to burn properly. More rum is poured with a ladle until all the sugar has melted and mixed with the wine.


The resulting punch is served in mugs while the burner keeps the bowl warm. For some the ceremony is more important than the drink itself, celebrating the gathering of friends and conveying a notion of "Gemütlichkeit" (coziness).