What is gløgg? Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says:
glogg gloog (noun):
a hot spiced wine and liquor punch
Lisbeth made glogg for the Christmas party using her Swedish grandmother's recipe, which called for red wine, brandy spices, almonds, and raisins.
For an even better explanation, check out the "Words From Sweden" posting about glögg.
So how can you add this wonderful Nordic tradition to your holiday celebrations? You could just wimp out and buy some pre-made stuff at places like IKEA, Restoration Hardware, Trader Joe's or better Scandinavian gift shops. Even most people in Scandinavia buy a pre-mixed bottled mix and add their alcohol of choice. But you'd be missing all the fun -- and the true flavor of a made-from-scratch gløgg!
Here is my favorite gløgg recipe for you to try, which I've made available on the Internet since 1993. Measurements are all in "American". I usually double the amounts when I make it for big crowds - but who really bothers measuring when you're making gløgg?!
NOTE: For a non-alcoholic version of this, just substitute apple cider for the wine and other liquors.
RUTH MARIE'S GLA' GLOGG*
*Tusen takk til Knut Wickstrøm for the name, which means "Glad [or Happy] Gløgg"!
Variants available below…
Variants available below…
** If this is correct with double amounts, be forewarned that the rest of the recipe needs a large pot. A Very Large Pot. A Really Very Large Stock Pot...
Crush/grind cardamom seeds and put them into the pot. Combine with almonds, cinnamon, cloves, figs, ginger slices, candied orange peel and raisins. Pour enough burgundy over the fruit mixture to completely cover it by about an inch. Set aside the rest of the burgundy for later. (Well...maybe pour yourself a large glass of the stuff while you're doing the rest of this...)
Bring mixture to a hardy boil for a couple of minutes, the immediately turn off the heat. Cool. Cover. Let it stand, unrefrigerated, for several hours - overnight or more than 24-48 hours is highly recommended.
On the day of serving, combine the now-cooked fruit mixture, fruit juices, brandy, the rest of the burgundy wine, port wine, and sweet vermouth into large pot. Heat through, but do not boil again. I usually put the burner on “2” about two hours ahead of the party. It’s nicely warmed up by the time the guests arrive.
WARNING:On one occasion when I made this, I turned the stove up to reheat the gløgg before the party and left the lid completely on. After a while, I couldn't resist and opened the lid, intending to inhale the fragrance. Upon contact with the air, the gløgg burst into flames and gave me a slightly modified hairdo. So, to be careful, I recommend heating it up with the lid cover slightly askew.
Serve by pouring gløgg into small cups that can handle hot beverages and add a spoonful of the cooked fruit to each serving. In Scandinavia, they have special "glogg cups", but you can also use glogg mugs or coffee cups.
Be aware that this is fairly potent stuff. The root word "glo" means "glow" -- and that's exactly what you will do after just one or two small cups.
Read what satisfied "customers" have to say...
- “Your gloegg recipe has been a big hit in Vermont for several years now... people keep demanding that I make it and invite them all over every Christmas... so from cold and snowy Vermont, thank you!” – Tim (a hardanger fiddle player) from Vermont, USA
- "I used the quantities indicated in the recipe, but since I was going to serve this to a bunch of Norwegians, I decided to skip the non-alcoholic fruit juices - actually I forgot to buy them :-). Anyway, this is the best gløgg I have ever made! I served it at a board meeting for my building society, and they started to 'giggle' after the second cup. Soon everyone was laughing and telling jokes, and all the boring stuff of the meeting was all forgotten. One of the guys called it a Gla'Gløgg (glad gløgg). I told everyone who I stole the recipe from, and they all send their best regards to you. Thanks a lot! " - Gunnar and a Norwegian Homeowners Association
- "Hello! Several years I downloaded your infamous gløgg recipe and served it to our Scandinavian folk dance group here in Red Lodge. Now our older daughter is married and requested a copy of said recipe [...] So I was quite amused and intrigued to find that you are so famous that when I typed 'Sylte glogg' into my Excite search, you readily came up at the top of the search list!!! Actually, I think I wrote you before to comment on how delightfully potent it was [...] Thanks again for being such a delightful goddess and sharing your cooking expertise! " - Andrea from Montana, USA
- "Your gløgg recipe was very effective! Much better than the pre-made stuff." - Anders from Bergen, Norway
- "I tried your gløgg recipe that was forwarded to the danskmailing list [...]. My German girlfriend and I gave a Christmas party yesterday afternoon, with her supplying the German sweet goodies and me insisting on gløgg (legacy of a period working in Denmark and once having a Danish girlfriend) rather than the usual glühwein/mulled-wine stuff. It was a great success and everyone was asking for a copy of your recipe." - Victor from The Netherlands
- "We tried your recipe. It was great, but we still have the same haircuts. Did we do something wrong?" - Anonymous
Want more recipes to try? Wine and cocktail writer Robert Simonson wrote a great article for Imbibe Magazine that includes a version from Finland, where the drink is known as ". Or you could try any of the following variants of my recipe...
Harry Seaman's Non-Alcoholic variant
For a non-alcoholic version, just substitute apple cider for the liquor.
Gunnar Somby Variant
Forget the fruit juices entirely and just concentrate on the alcohol.
Mike Jittlov "Mah'Glogg" Variant
Having missed every blessed opportunity to imbibe Ruth Marie 's legendary Gla'Gløgg in person, I have gone in my opposite, desperate lonely-bachelor direction. I call it... "Mah'Glogg".
- 1/6th part - bottled Saturnus Glögg (available at IKEA)
- 1/4th part - canned orange juice concentrate
- 7/12th part – Los Angeles tapwater (a taste all its own)
Swirl liquid in clear glass mug, place in microwave, and nuke on High for 2-3 minutes until lightly foamy and the city tapwater is disinfected. Add the traditional raisins and almonds, as ye wont. If you run out of Glögg Mix, try substituting Lingonberry Concentrate (also from IKEA). Heat... Really yummy!
Erin Vang's "Professor Sylte" Variant
Buy the cheapest, crappiest versions you can of:
- 10 liters burgundy wine
- 1 bottle akavit
- 2 bottles port
- 1 bottle sweet vermouth
Several days in advance, cover the following in burgundy wine and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, cover and leave sitting around.
- 2 cups mixed raisins
- 20 whole cardamon pods, bruised or crushed (your call)
- 2 cups slivered almonds
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole cloves
- 2-4 inches of ginger, diced
- Zest of 2 oranges, juice of 1 orange (or both, if you prefer)
- 1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
To serve, find a large pot (I use a 5 gallon brewpot), put it on your stove and add:
- All of the above, now nicely macerated
- The rest of the burgundy
- 1.5 cups akavit
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 2 bottles port
- 1 bottle sweet vermouth
- Optional: Frozen orange juice concentrate, frozen pineapple juice concentrate and their requisite water additions.
Warm it up but not quite to a boil or you’ll lose all the alcohol. Just get it good and hot and then turn the burner way down. Let it simmer along and as your guests lower the level, bring it back up with judicious slugs of akavit, port, vermouth and whatever cheap red wine they brought to the party.
How is gløgg used socially? The Scandinavian Insider has a great posting about "Glögg Parties Exposed" that give you a good idea of how this beverage is used in Northern Europe.
...most glögg parties aren’t about getting drunk, and most hosts aren’t after a raucous night. These are usually simple, humble affairs that happen in the late afternoon or early evening. The host invites a group of guests to their house for mugs of glögg, plates of pepparkakor (ginger cookies), and holiday cheer.
Other cultures have similar beverages, too.
Glögg is the Nordic form of mulled wine, similar to Glühwein in German-speaking countries. ... In Romania it is called vin fiert ("boiled wine"), and can be made using either red or white wine, sometimes adding peppercorn. In Moldova the izvar is made from red wine with black pepper and honey. In Italy, mulled wine is typical in the northern part of the country and is called vin brulè.
** A variant of the Norwegian phrase "Bare hyggelig", which sort of means "Enjoy!"