Glogg was a staple of my childhood Christmases. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’d been looking for a long ago recipe card used by my parents titled “Britta’s Glogg” to do a post about it (and because I hadn’t made it in years). Then all of a sudden I start seeing recipes for mulled wine all over the place. I don’t remember seeing any in years and then, two different ones from just in the NYTimes alone, one in the Sunday Magazine, another by writer Melissa Clark.

It was not the drinking of the glogg that stays in the memory—it wasn’t till later that I would actually have been drinking it—it was the aroma of it. I’ve recently become aware of how powerful the smells of food cooking in house are. They are a natural stress reliever. When I made a batch of glogg this year, the first thing Donna said upon entering the kitchen was “What smells so good in here.” So I recommend making this for the aroma alone.

Back in the seventies, my mom used a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi “burgundy.” The adults also often liked it spiked with vodka. Some how, port made it into the recipe, perhaps to make up for the crappy wine. The following was given to us by a talented textile designer from Sweden, Britta Engstrom, who taught at The Cleveland Institute of Art and had become friends of my parents. It’s very similar to the recipe in the NYTimes magazine by Annika Sundvik, New York City chef and Stockholm native, dominated by cardamom and clove. I like the idea of orange peel and ginger in hers.

Britta’s glogg couldn’t be simpler. Her family served it garnished with toasted almonds and raisins (as does this glogg recipe, which uses port, bourbon, and rum). Now that we have decent wine available, Britta’s Glogg is much better than when I was a kid.

Britta’s Glogg

  • 2 bottles decent red wine (pinot noir, shiraz)
  • 1-1/2 cups port
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 caradamom seeds
  • 1-1/2 cups of vodka (optional)
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the vodka, if using, in pan over low heat for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. Strain the mixture into a clean pan. Bring it up to heat whenever you have visitors so that the kitchen is redolent of the spices.
  3. Add the vodka, if using, make sure the glogg is hot, and serve.

Makes about 1 liter/quart.

Other recipes for hot holiday libations

Wassil

Buttered Beer

Buttered Rum (as has been noted before, this is one of those drinks that sounds a helluva lot better than it is)

The German Gluhwein

Hippocras- Medieval Mulled wine

If you liked this post on Glogg, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

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9 Wonderful responses to “Britta’s Glogg”

  • Christine Wolfe

    Michael, I couldn’t agree more about the power of smells to trigger memories. My dad made glögg every Christmas Eve, with the raisins and almonds simmering in the spicy concoction of gallon jugs of “wine”. Incredible aroma. I couldn’t wait till I was old enough to partake. If I was home right now, I would post his recipe, which included several spirits, including port, but no vodka or rum.

    I don’t drink anymore, but since I lost my father earlier this year, I have considered making his glögg just for the memories. I still haven’t decided. But his Swedish meatballs and pecan crescent cookies will have a prominent place on my buffet table.

    Merry Christmas, Michael. Blessings to you and yours in 2012.

  • Richard Scholtz

    My wife’s family is Swedish, and the making of glogg has been passed to the German-Czech guy (me) for some reason. The recipe we use has a gallon of cheap port, a fifth of brandy, and a cup of everclear, along with the mulling spices, raisins, and almonds. Once it’s done, you light it on fire to “burn off the harshness.” Based on how I calculated it, I think it’s close to 27% alcohol. If it’s really cold and nasty outside, people with consume a lot of it, and it 2-3 hours, it looks like Jonestown, the morning after, in the living room. It sure is good though.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family Michael.

  • Vickie McCorkendale

    Glogg or Mulled wine, same thing… and each family and country has their own twist. I smelled the aromas as a child when it was called Mulled Wine and served at Halloween off our front porch. Didn’t drink any until I was adult and Glogg was served each year at a the the company party. In Sweden at Christmas time 10 years ago… had the pleasure of sipping it the traditional way – while strolling through the cold streets and shopping for gifts in a winter wonderland.

    Great minds think alike:
    http://cvixen.blogspot.com/2011/10/mulled-wine-our-familys-holloween-treat.html

  • Ron Sober

    We make a Holiday drink that we love. You soak steel cut oats in water overnight. Then in the morning you drain the water into a crock pot and mix with heavy cream and honey. After that warms for an hour or so, you mix it 50/50 with scotch.

  • Tags

    Mark Kurlansky, who wrote some great books about cod, salt, oysters, and many more subjects (and also translated Emile Zola’s “Belly of the Beast”) wrote a book in 2009 called “The Food of a Younger Land” including and commenting on government-subsidized essays on regional foods that were gathered under the auspices of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration.

    One that caught my eye was under the heading “The Mint Julep Controversy,” even though it had nothing to do with either Kentucky or Mint Juleps. Rather, it told of how Arkansas slaves waited until their masters were oblivious to their half-full bottles of whiskey and filled up the remainder of the bottles with just-picked cherries, letting the whole thing steep until Christmas. I’d heard the term “cherry bounce” before, but didn’t really know exactly what it was.

  • Deanna B.

    I have a pot of water going with cinnamon and cloves, but later today that will be replaced by glogg. It will be perfect while looking at Christmas light.

  • Russell

    Bah, weak-sauce. :) How I make glogg:

    - 2 bottles (750 ml) cheap red
    - 2 bottles cheap port
    - 1 pint cheap brandy
    - three cinnamon sticks
    - peel of an orange
    - cup of slivered almonds
    - good handful of raisins
    - dozen or so cloves
    - dozen or so cardamom pods (smacked with a pan)
    - 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar. Two cups is sweet, a little less tastes more acidic but I think it’s more grown up. Not that this is a kid’s drink. Unless you want them to sleep through Christmas night of course. I figure it clocks in around 18% ABV.

    Steep the raisins, almonds, and spices in the wine and port at around 130 for an hour. Strain. (I use a huge, like softball-sized, spice ball.) In a separate pan caramelize the sugar with a splash of the brandy. Boil a few minutes till it’s a simple syrup, then combine it and the rest of the brandy with the wine. Done!

    Pour a glass and nuke it for 30 seconds in the microwave, or serve warm out of a thermos. I can vouch for it as an awesome pick-me-up after a chilly round of razor clamming out on the WA coast yesterday evening!

    You can re-bottle it and save it for later. We’re opening a bottle of last year’s on Sunday.

  • Steve-Anna

    Hi Michael and Donna~Happy Holidays!

    You’re right, these recipes are everywhere. There was a show on NPR’s “All Things Considered” with a very similar recipe to Russell’s ( http://tinyurl.com/7hbprqn ). That recipe also calls for ginger.

    Just listening to the story on the radio evoked the aromatics! The woman interviewed was from Norway, and listening to her really makes you inhale the spices and feel warmer from the cold (even if you’re not cold!).

    Sending warm wishes from sunny Tucson~SAS

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