Starting sometime in early November, the Swedes go to the stores to buy the special soft drink associated with the Christmas season, Julmust. “Jul”, similar to English “Yule”, is the Scandinavian word for Christmas, originating from before the time when Christianity was introduced during the Viking Age. We still use the word “Jul” for Christmas today.
Julmust was originally created 100 years ago by the Swede Harry Roberts as an non-alcoholic alternative to beer, and it has been celebrated ever since and is now a staple of Swedish Christmas specialities. The taste is like that of root beer, only much sweeter as it is mainly based on syrup.
The popularity of this drink in Sweden is hard to exaggerate. During the December month, the sale of Julmust is so high that the consumption of Coca-Cola goes markedly down. Some years, Julmust even outsells Coca-Cola in Sweden!
Last week, the first bottle of Julmust was shared in the office, brought by one staff from Sweden. A few of our staff had never tasted Julmust before, and according to them it has “a very strange and undefinable taste”… Stranger still is how it grows on you, and after a while you start to enjoy it. For Swedes who grow up with Julmust, it’s almost unthinkable to spend an entire Christmas without drinking it.
The bartender Viktor Eriksson at Taverna Brillo in Stockholm has created two drink recipes based on Julmust, which you can find here. Sadly, the availability of Julmust outside Sweden is very limited. But if you ever stumble across it, make sure to seize the oppertunity to experience a truly traditional Swedish drink!
EDIT: It has been confirmed that IKEA imports julmust, at least in Japan. Thanks to Takemoto-san in TYO SLS for bringing this to our attention!
Photo: MIKI Staff