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.