Bizarre Soft Drinks I Have Recently Encountered: Julmust
WHAT IT IS: A traditional Swedish Christmas beverage invented by Harry and Robert Roberts in 1910 as an alternative to beer.
WHERE IT WAS DISCOVERED: The Ikea in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
WHO MAKES IT: This particular beverage, exclusive in the States to Ikea, is bottled by a company called Spendrups (specifically, Spendrups Klassiker). For reasons I cannot yet determine, the label also includes the phrase “NYGÅRDA” in text far larger than both the Spendrups logo and the flavor designation of Julmust.
HOW IT TASTES: Malty, with a hint of a fruit-like substance. Has a definite, discernible, likable bite.
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Artist’s rendering of a Claus-like elf on the decidedly red label; separate ingredient listings for Canada and the U.S./Australia (WTF?).
NOTES: The Julmust Wiki claims this beverage was the basis for Pepsi’s mid-aught Holiday Spice drink. If that’s true, something was definitely lost in translation. I remember Holiday Spice tasting like regular Pepsi with pine cone and Christmas candle flavoring. Julmust is completely different. It’s a thick, hearty soda, a malt that isn’t too malty yet not too sweet. If this is what Swedes are into for Xmas, I’m pouring out all my egg nog and moving to Stockholm.
Their press release (translated by me) says:
When Coca Cola tried to sell julmust a few years ago, they also went for a rustic feel, naming it Bjäre, which, like Nygårda, is the name of some village noöne has ever heard of.
That press release also says that one can age glass-bottled julmust in a dark and cool place for a year for a fuller and rounder taste.
mmmm love julmust!