Gløgg! Raise a Glass to the New Year!
Gløgg may be a way to cope with the long, cold, dark winter months in Scandinavia. It might be a way to do just the same in frigid western North Dakota, when daylight hours are less than dark hours in mid winter. Whether made in its alcoholic version with wine or port or aquavit, or with no alcohol at all, the aroma of Glogg, a hot spiced drink, a sort of mulled wine, satiates even the coldest appetites in winter.
Gløgg! A sort of Mulled, Spiced Wine. Or not.
Gløgg is usually made up of hot red wine and/or aquavit, sugar, and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange. The drink is served with almonds and raisins. Children get a non-alcoholic version made with fruit juice instead of wine.
Gløgg Just Might Be Celebratory, but so it Aquavit!
Some folks joke about Aquavit, the quintessential traditional Norwegian alcoholic beverage. It’s a spiced spirit which must by definition include dill and/or caraway. Experience taught me that it should be consumed in very small quantities at a time!
And There’s a Special Glass!
Indeed, glassware designed for Aquavit accommodates servings of .5 to 1.5 ounces, and should be stemmed, for reasons listed here by the Aquavit Academy (did you know there was such a thing?!) : Small, on a tall Stem, Please!
This video gives you a glimpse of the tradition of Aquavit in Scandinavia during the Christmas and New Years holidays. Even Will Ferrel Drinks This Stuff!
Gløgg at Sons of Norway
Norwegians were among the many pioneer settlers in western North Dakota. With them they brought traditions, and Sons of Norway chapters throughout the area serve to preserve and pass on those traditions. Frode Tilden, who is from Norway, lives in North Dakota and is an active Sons of Norway member. His passion is sharing his family traditions. His annual Christmas party at the Kringen Lodge (eastern North Dakota) is a prime example of how all members promote Scandinavian culture. Frode is well known for his Holiday Gløgg, which is perfect for any cold winter’s night, and especially appropriate at New Years celebrations when the temperatures often dip below -20 degrees Fahrenheit!
The Spices and the Heat Make Gløgg!
No, alcohol is not necessary for good Gløgg In fact, some of us would prefer no alcohol at all, unless it’s included for medicinal purposes, of course! So make Gløgg for the entire family to drink! Assorted Gløgg recipes follow.
Here’s a family friendly recipe for Gløgg from Norway All Things Considered:
5 cups orange juice
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1-1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped
12 dried apricots, chopped
15 whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks (break into smaller pieces)
2 pieces fresh ginger, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bottles (750 ml) red wine or
red grape juice)
Pour orange juice into a large pan. Place cloves and ginger in cheese cloth bags* and
add to pan. Add raisins, prunes, cinnamon sticks and almonds. Bring mixture to a boil and let steep for 45 minutes. Add wine and heat. A crock pot is perfect to keep this Viking drink nice and hot. Ladle into mugs and serve. Make the bags by cutting food grade cheese cloth into squares; fill them with the spice mix and tie each bag at the top with food grade string or plain dental floss.
Check out this Gløgg recipe from the National Public Radio website: Get Into the Spirit with Scandinavian Glogg.
Recipe: A Simple Gløgg:
Aquavit (or brandy or vodka)
Burgundy or pinot noir wine
One piece of ginger
Step 1: Soak 1/2 cup of raisins in one cup of aquavit (a Norwegian spirit made with potatoes); Brandy or vodka can be used instead. Soak for 30 minutes before Step 2.
Step 2: Put a large pot on the stove, over high heat. Add one cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar to the pot, and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Step 3: Lower the heat to medium and add your spices – two sticks of cinnamon (each broken in half); four whole cloves; six whole cardamom seeds, crushed by hand; a thinly shaved orange peel; and one small piece of ginger, peeled and cut in half. Stir again with wooden spoon. Do not allow the mix to come to a boil from this point on.
How to Make Authentic Norwegian Gløgg, a Mulled Wine Treat
Though the first culture to heat up sweetened wine before spiking it with spirits and spices were the Romans in the 2nd century, it’s hard to argue that the Nordic countries have become known for perfecting it. Mulled wine in Norway, locally known as gløgg, is a matter of particular regional of pride. What sets apart authentic Norwegian gløgg is the use of the country’s national spirit, aquavit, to spike the base.
Harald Hansen, public information manager at Visit Norway, says of aquavit, “It’s a potato-based spirit commonly flavored with savory herbs like dill, fennel or coriander.” He lends us his recipe for Norwegian gløgg, telling us, “This is the way my family in Norway serves it, and most of my friends.”
Make sure to take a look at our guide to aquavit for more information about this regional favorite and recommended bottles you can pick up stateside. Already familiar? Try tracking down one of these special-edition Christmas aquavits for a bold new taste.
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 large sliced cinnamon stick
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
- 12 ounces white sugar
- ½ 750-ml bottle of aquavit (or substitute vodka or Cognac)
- 3½ ounces raisins
- 3½ ounces sliced almonds
Heat the red wine slowly in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Put the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a spice bag and add to the pot. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves.
Remove the pan from heat and let cool, approximately 2 hours. Add the aquavit to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Heat until just before mixture reaches a boil. Add raisins and almonds. Transfer mixture to a punchbowl, remove the spice bag and ladle into large glass cups with little spoons, scooping up raisins and almonds. Serves 8.
Do you have a traditional holiday drink at Christmas and New Year’s? Care to share the recipe? We’d love to find out more!
Christmas in North Dakota without Lefse? Or is that Lefsa? Uff Da! Read about that here : Let’s Eat Lefse!
And then, there is the classic Ukrainian 12 Course Christmas meal! Discover that tradition among many western North Dakotans here: Ukrainian Christmas in the North Dakota Badlands
Ideas where we’ll find great food in western North Dakota and eastern Montana? Let Us Know!
Happy New Year, from Mary and Mike!