December 12, 2014

Glögg, a Variation

Glögg is a Swedish mulled wine, traditionally spiked with akavit. You will find more variations on glögg recipes than spellings for aquavit. What the recipes have in common is gently warming a combination of dry red wine and port with a whole bunch of spices to infuse the wines with flavor. The exception to this, which perhaps is the real way it's done, I'm not sure, are the steeped vodka versions by star Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson, including a white vine version.
Following the similarities in recipes, though, the hot, spiced wine mixture is strained and then mixed with akavit. Often the akavit has been steeped with raisins prior to mixing. Some recipes call for varying amounts of sugar to be added, some omit sugar. This concoction is then imbibed hot, warming both by temperature and high alcohol content. My parents report that when they contributed a traditional glögg to a long ago dinner party, all the guests were completely crushed by it. Apparently it can be quite powerful.
I like to make a non-traditional, non-alcoholic glögg. After steeping the spiced liquid, I strain it and keep it warm on a back burner of the stove all Christmas afternoon. We ladle it into mugs and enjoy it throughout the day. Those of us who want a little alcohol in our glögg, we add spiced rum to our own preferred tastes.

Non-alcoholic Glögg
4 C cranberry juice*
1.5 C orange juice
6-8 star anise
4 cardommom pods, cracked
2, 4-inch cinnamon sticks
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
6 cloves
2 Tbs honey
3 Tbs dried cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and steep for at least 1 hour. Strain juice mixture. Reheat to serve. Spike with spiced rum if desired.

*Here in the States, cranberry juices are not created equal. There's cranberry juice cocktail, cranberry juice blend, and 100% unadulterated cranberry juice. In this recipe, use whichever type your prefer. Cranberry juice cocktail is a sugary (or artificially sweetened) drink that contains some amount of actual juice. Cranberry juice blend is 100% juice, but not all of it is cranberry. It contains some percentage of cranberry juice which is sweetened with other juices, usually apple and white grape, allowing the cranberry flavor to be dominant. There's also the fancy blends, cranberry-pomegranate and cranberry-blueberry are a couple of examples, in which both juices compete for flavor dominance. Finally, there's pure, tart, 100% cranberry juice.

I've made glögg with juice sweetened cranberry and with 100% cranberry juice. The juice sweetened version is plenty sweet enough for my palette without any added sugar. The 100% cranberry version is tart. Very tart. If you like tartness, go for it. Since we're already being non-traditional here, I will admit that I enjoy the tart version chilled and mixed with sparkling water. Most likely a blasphemous treatment of glögg, but refreshing and tasty for all that.
I've only ever made glögg on Christmas day, at my parents' house, for all the family to enjoy. It's become something of a tradition these last few years. It's honestly never occurred to me to make it in my own kitchen. Until now, for this photo shoot. But, gosh, I certainly don't want to be a waster. The Hubs and I will just have to drink it down. For the greater good, don't-cha know?

If you plan to serve mulled wine or glögg at a holiday party, I think each cup would look pretty and festive garnished with a cinnamon stick and a wide band of orange zest. Or dress it up with a piece of candied orange peel. Enjoy!


  1. The Swedish may decree it blasphemous, but I for one am thrilled you suggested a chilled, tart alternative because all the way through reading (until that point) I kept wishing for a cold, snowy Christmas just so I could have a first try of glögg. Now I can try it at Christmas and by the fire in winter. I should probably start with the non-alcoholic version... or maybe a wee splash of vodka in the chilled one? And, no, you most certainly do not want to be a waster, so, for the greater good, I hope you and Hubs drunk it down :-) Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Chilled with vodka sounds delightful! I like the way you think (even if I can't wrap my northern-hemisphere brain around Christmas in summer).