Invite a cozy feeling with warm gløgg

Red wine, akevitt, and a medley of spices create a festive holiday beverage

Photo: Daytona Strong Nothing says “koselig” like a warm cup of gløgg.

Photo: Daytona Strong
Nothing says “koselig” like a warm cup of gløgg.

Daytona Strong
Norwegian American Weekly

This time of year nothing says koselig more than flickering candles, tins of buttery cookies to tuck into, and the aromas of warm spices wafting from the kitchen, where a pot of gløgg sits on the stove.

Essentially a mulled wine, Scandinavian gløgg is less sweet than its relatives from other parts of the world. It is deeply spiced and bolstered by a generous pour of akevitt. Typically served with raisins and almonds in each cup, I have added dried figs, a tip I learned from Anna Brones, coauthor of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. The figs add a lovely, subtle flavor along with the satisfying bite of akevitt-soaked fruit at the bottom of each cup.

I’m keeping my Christmas decorations minimal this year, bringing out some well-chosen favorites and focusing primarily on the senses of the season and the feelings they evoke. Strings of lights draping throughout the house, candles set up on mantles, stockings, and a scattering of Scandinavian red create a cozy ambiance, one that makes me want to slow down and linger, to savor this fleeting time that comes but once a year. The pot of gløgg awaits the friends we welcome through our doors with its aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and wine. Its warm spices must beckon, an invitation to come in from the cold and to warm bodies and hearts with good food and beverages and the company of friends. And that, to me, is the definition of hospitality.

Photo: Daytona Strong

Photo: Daytona Strong

1 1/2 cups akevitt
1/4 cup raisins
8 dried figs, quartered
3 cinnamon sticks
10 green cardamom pods
2 tsps. whole cloves
2-inch piece of orange peel
1 (750 ml) bottle red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
2 tbsps. sugar
1/4 cup blanched or slivered almonds

Pour akevitt into a jar along with raisins, figs, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, and orange peel. Cover and let steep overnight, giving a good swirl now and then. After about 12 hours, strain the mixture, reserving the spices and fruit. You can make it ahead up to this point or proceed immediately to the next steps (in which case you need not strain the akevitt).

When ready to heat the gløgg, combine akevitt, wine, sugar, and the reserved spices and fruit in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cover and let it slowly warm up for about half an hour, checking on it and giving it a stir and a taste now and then to see how the flavors are developing. Be patient and keep a gentle heat—you don’t want it to boil, or even really simmer for that matter. When the gløgg is hot and the flavors have developed and mingled, add the almonds. To serve, ladle into mugs, adding raisins, figs, and almonds to each. Serves six.

Note: If you’re going to keep the gløgg on the stove for an extended period of time, perhaps serving it throughout the evening, you might want to remove the cloves, and maybe the cardamom and orange peel too, so that the spices don’t get too strong. If you happen to have leftovers, strain into a bottle or jar. Reheat on the stove when ready to serve again.

Daytona Strong is a Seattle-based food writer and recipe developer. She writes about her family’s Scandinavian heritage through the lens of food at Find her on Facebook; Twitter @daytonastrong; Pinterest @daytonastrong; and Instagram @daytonastrong.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 25, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.