To me glögg is the quintessential Christmas beverage. And I know, some may argue that eggnog holds that distinction. But that’s only because they have never tasted my late friend Julie Finzimer’s sweet and spicy recipe for this warm Scandinavian holiday beverage.
Julie first served me a small cup of glögg one cold winter’s evening in (I think) 1974. I immediately asked for the recipe because I had never tasted anything like it. I knew without a doubt that this incredibly delicious drink had to become part of my own family’s Christmas tradition.
So needless to say, I have been making it ever since. And I have some wonderful memories associated with this drink. Allow me to tell you one.
One of the first Christmases that my daughter Eden and her new husband Willie spent with us, I offered Willie a cup of glögg after dinner. He nearly said no, mainly because he wasn’t overly fond of sweet drinks. But in the end he agreed to a small cup. So I warmed some up for all of us, and served the drinks with a big old plate of ginger cookies. Willie was comfortably settled in an easy chair close to the fire (a real one!) when he took his first sip. The rest of us waited while he decided if he liked the drink. He said that it was actually quite good, and could he please have some more. We warned him that glögg was almost pure alcohol, but he said he could handle it. And he did too, until after his third cup and he tried to stand up. It was only then that he realized why we had issued the warning. We still laugh when we are together, 30 some years later, about his first “glögg experience”.
So if you too love drinks that warm you through and through, give this delicious recipe a try. You won’t be sorry, unless of course you drink three cups of this potent concoction at one sitting. But then you’ve been warned, now haven’t you. Happy Christmas everyone!
- 1 qt. water
- 25 whole cardamom seeds
- 40 whole cloves
- ¾ c. raisins
- 4 oz. (½ small container) candied orange peel
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 1 750ml bottle port (ruby or tawny)
- 1 750ml bottle cabernet sauvignon
- 1 750ml bottle brandy
- 1½ c. granulated sugar
- ½ c. brown sugar
Combine the water, cardamom seeds, cloves, raisins, candied orange peel, and cinnamon in a covered saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for at least 4 hours.
Strain into a large saucepan. Add the port, cabernet sauvignon, and brandy. Bring just to a hearty simmer. Remove from heat. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL.
Meanwhile place a 2-quart saucepan, or my personal favorite, a small cast iron fry-pan over medium-high heat until the pan is warm, not hot. Add the sugar and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until all the sugar has melted. (The sugar syrup will take on a light golden brown as it melts.) Pour syrup very slowly into the large pot with spices and liquor, stirring constantly as you pour. The sugar syrup will sputter and harden when it touches the hot liquid, but will dissolve again very quickly. Add the brown sugar and stir until it too is completely dissolved. Let glögg cool before decanting into bottles. Serve very warm. Best served with ginger cookies, especially Speculaas. (Recipe on site.)