One of my favorite things to make every year is a big vat of Gløgg. This Eastern European holiday drink cuts right through the winter blues and shakes off the cold in one fell sip. My late mother used to make it every year, being a good Swiss/German/Scotch/Irish midwesterner. It always brings back lovely memories of her laughing in the kitchen, baking up some incredible Christmas Cookies. I am grateful to have her recipes collected in a big folder, her graceful handwriting filling the backs of index cards or magazine articles, even the odd section of a box, with arrows pointing or parts crossed out where she disagreed with the cooks directions. Mom was a cooking rebel down to the core, and I have clearly inherited her tendency to shake up a boring meal with something fun!
I have experimented with this recipe for Gløgg and I can assure you that there is no “wrong” way to make it. If you are missing an element, you can always substitute whatchagot. In fact, some of my favorite Gløgg’s have been made just this way!
2 large bottles of cheap red wine
1 bottle of port
1 bottle of brandy
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod (optional)
1 orange or 2 tangerines (use both the juice and the peel). Some people even throw in a lemon!
1/4 cup cardamom pods or seeds
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds
I have substituted orange juice for the oranges, figs for the raisins, peach brandy for the brandy, and added Vodka or Aquavit for shits and giggles. This year I threw in some chopped candied ginger and a handful of mulling spices from WIlliams Sonoma. I’ve even seen cranberries thrown into the mix and a star anise used as a garnish. Like I said, it’s whatchagot!
VERY IMPORTANT: DON’T BOIL THE GLOGG! It will burn off all the alcohol and leave you with hot juice. Where’s the fun in that?
Directions: pour both bottles of wine and the port into a large pot. Put heat on low. Throw in raisins, cardamom, almonds, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla pod.
Cut up and peel oranges or tangerine and lemon. Squeeze in the juice, and drop it all, peels, orange pulp, and everything, into the pot.
Put Brandy in a smaller pot and add the sugar. Heat on very low until the sugar had dissolved, and it has taken on a nice carmel color. Again, do not boil! Add to the wine and port mixture.
Let sit on the stove for at least three hours for it all to take on the flavors. (I have been known to let it sit out overnight, so that it really gets the flavor in there deep, and then reheat it in the morning, straining and bottling in the afternoon, but three hours will do the trick.)
Using a sieve, take out the bigger ingredients and pour the Glogg into the now empty bottles. Save the raisins and almonds and use them to put in the bottom of the cup when you serve.
To serve you can either heat up just what you are going to be drinking on the stove, or just pour into a mug and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add some raisins and almonds. If you want to be all elegant about it, serve in a tea cup or a clear glass with a slice of orange and/or a cinnamon stick as a garnish.
My favorite way to drink this is out of a thermos at the end of a hard day of work! Awesome served with christmas cookies like gingersnaps, raisin cookies, or Pfeffernusse (German Spice Cookies).