Growing up in a Swedish-American household, nothing was as soothing on a cold winter’s eve than a hot cup of mulled wine. Each year my family would pull out our little copper glögg pot, fill it with wine and spices, and light the tiny tealight underneath to warm the cinnamon, orange, and cardamom-spiced beverage. There’s something about savory, spiked drinks — apple cider with mulling spices and brandy, eggnog, Tom and Jerrys, and mulled wine — that instantly conjures holiday memories, and, even if you’ve never tried it before, you’ll find glögg is no exception.
This recipe, from Swedish-Ethiopian former Aquavit chef Marcus Samuelsson, is the best of the best. Since it takes a bit of overnight prep time, you may find it simplest to spice a considerably larger amount of vodka all at once — this gives you the option of whipping up a batch of glögg whenever it strikes your fancy. White cardamom pods are traditional in Scandinavian food; these may be purchased at Penzeys Ltd. or swapped for the easier-to-find (and cheaper) green variety. If you don’t have vanilla sugar, try burying an empty vanilla bean pod in granulated sugar for a few days… or, in a pinch, substitute powdered sugar plus a drop or two of vanilla extract.
Original recipe from Aquavit by Marcus Samuelsson, 2003
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cardamom pods
1 small piece of ginger, peeled
6 whole cloves
zest of half an orange
½ c vodka
1 750-ml bottle of red wine
1 c port
1 c sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
½ c blanched whole almonds
½ c dark raisins
- Crush the cinnamon and cardamom with a mortar and pestle. Transfer them to a small glass jar and add the ginger, cloves, orange zest, and vodka. Let stand for 24 hours.
- Strain the vodka into a saucepan; discard the soaked spices. Add the wine, port, sugar, vanilla sugar, almonds, and raisins. Heat the mixture over medium heat until bubbles form around the sides of the pan (or the glögg reaches your desired temperature).
- Serve the glögg hot in mugs with a few raisins and almonds in each cup. If you feel the need to toast your inner Swede, look each of your companions in the eyes, raise your mug, and say “SKÅL!”