Swe-Dishes (And Drinks): Three Generations of Glögg

Food & Drink

Swe-Dishes (And Drinks): Three Generations of Glögg

Each December in the Hagglund household, the aroma of cardamom and cloves fills the air as friends and family await a delicious and traditional holiday drink called glögg, a Swedish mulled wine.

For Mattias Hagglund, a bartender at Toast in Richmond, Va., with Danish and Swedish heritage, the holiday is incomplete without it.

“The smell of this in the house is what the coming of Christmas means to me,” Hagglund said.

Each year from Dec. 13 (St. Lucia’s Day) through the New Year, the Hagglunds serve their homemade family recipe.

“I was always taught this was the Swedish time for Glögg,” Hagglund said. “In fact, serving it outside of these dates could even be considered bad luck, unless you’re like my father who starts thinking about his batch mid-summer.”

The recipe is quick to make and easy to batch. It’s high enough in alcohol and holds well through the season. And while the recipe has been a family tradition for more than three generations, it does vary from person to person.

“It’s the family recipe that has been riffed on by every member, because each of us think our version is the best,” Hagglund said. “My father likes to make his really strong with lots of cardamom while my aunt cuts a lot of the liquor. I try to keep a healthy balance between the two.”

Here’s Mattias’ rendition of the Hagglund family recipe:

Ingredients

  • Two 750 ml bottles of red wine, one young and fruit-forward and one dry and spicy (nothing too tannic)
  • 375 ml aquavit
  • 375 ml vodka
  • The zest of four oranges and two large lemons
  • 8 cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
  • 15 pods of cardamom
  • 12-15 pieces of all spice
  • 12-15 pieces of cloves
  • Two cups of demerara sugar

Directions

Lightly toast combined spices in a pan so the aromatic comes out. Right before they start to smoke, add the wine and zest. Bring the mix up to a light simmer for ten minutes (do not boil over). Add two cups of demerara sugar, or to taste. Remove from heat and add vodka and aquavit, mix and strain. Bottle the glögg and enjoy throughout the season.

Hagglund recommends reheating it in a pan, bringing it to almost a simmer.

“When reheating it, my dad likes to take a match and light the vapor,” he said. “It’s a very dramatic ceremony.”

Glögg traditionally is served with dried figs and sometimes cinnamon sticks, but the Hagglunds like to add dried raisins and sliced almonds into each serving.

“It’s great because when you’re finished with your glögg you then have these delicious, tiny little drunken treats,” Hagglund said. “Glögg is an old Scandinavian tradition and it’s much more than just a drink. Sharing it with friends and family during the holidays has a convivial, neighborhood feel that brings us together.”

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