Julmust is a soft drink that is typically consumed in Sweden during the Christmas season. Its name come from from Jul, the Swedish word for “Christmas,” and must, a common winemaking term for what you call the not yet fermented juice from fruit meant for wine or cider production.
Julmust, which tastes like a blend of cola and root beer, was created by Swedish chemist Harry Roberts in the early 20th century as a nonalcoholic alternative to beer. Harry got the recipe from Germany where he studied chemistry and have heard about the recipe. To this day, the company founded by Harry Roberts and his father Robert in 1910, Roberts AB, is still the sole producer of Julmust extract syrup, the base ingredient that is purchased by all companies that make their own brands of Julmust.
There are many producers for Julmust in Sweden and most food retailers have their own brands as well. Nygårda and Apotekarnes are two popular brands. The soda is produced using a Julmust extract that all producers are buying from Roberts AB. Then they mix the extract with water, sugar, preservatives and additional spices if they want to. Then the Julmust is carbonated and filled in plastic or glass bottles.
Its exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, and the drink tastes somewhat like a super sweet, spicy root beer. Besides sugar and water there is hop extract and malt.
The soda is almost impossible to find in stores outside the holiday season, but from mid-November through the end of December, Julmust becomes incredibly popular and is sold in supermarkets throughout Sweden.
According to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, the beverage comprised about 50 percent of total soft drink sales during the holiday season in 1999. Every holiday season, it continues to outsell all other soft drinks, including Coca-Cola. Since the sale of Coca-Cola drops by 50% during each december Coca-Cola have tried to get their share of this market.
Coca-Cola made attempts to produce their own brand of Julmust, and named it Bjäre Julmust, even selling it at McDonald’s in Sweden. Their product wasn’t popular and it was quickly removed from production. So, there have been several attempts by Coca-Cola to buy the rights to the secret Julmust extract recipe but Roberts AB have refused to sell.
A similar drink is sold around Easter under a different name, påskmust. There are small chances of finding Julmust outside Sweden. It is occasionally available at IKEA under the name “Dryck Julmust.”