On Christmas Eve we will be sipping this Swedish drink under the tree, toasting to the year wrapping up and the year to come. In Nordic countries, Glӧgg (with slight spelling variations depending on the country) widely refers to a warm, mulled wine, served with a spoonful of raisins and blanched almonds at the bottom of the glass.
Many countries have a variation on mulled wine, including but not limited to: Glϋhwein (Germany, Austria, Netherlands), Vin Chaud (France), Sıcak Şarap (Turkey), Caribou (Canada), Kan Zake (Japan), Wassail (England and USA). But if you are not familiar with the culture and don't speak the language the name won't mean anything to you. That is why I love discovering cross-cultural commonalities through food and drink; they are visual representations of a culture that surpass language and communication barriers allowing one to get a glimpse of the preferences, influences, and traditions of a country, possibly even finding a familiar and common ground with his/her own culture.
There is a Swedish-inspired coffee shop in St. Gallen called Oya Bar that I enjoy visiting with girlfriends. Unlike many charming Swiss buildings in the historic center, Oya Bar has an open, airy floor space and a clean design. The staff are friendly and the shop attracts other like-minded customers looking for a cozy, informal setting to enjoy a chat with friends and a warm beverage or soup of the day.
courtesy of atebo.ch
courtesy of annabelle.ch
This is where I was introduced to Glӧgg and specifically Apple Glӧgg. I would not have ordered it by seeing the name alone. It was being prepared for a woman ahead of me, and once I saw the cinnamon stick go into the glass and nuts and dried fruit added to a bowl and placed on the serving tray, that was it for me! Apple cider was the base instead of wine, and the flavor was similar to a barely-spiced Wassail, or mulled cider, something my family made during the holidays when I was growing up. But the raisins and blanched almonds were a fun addition I had not tried before. I decided it was a festive idea for the season and snapped some photos with a plan to make it at home.
I am waiting for Christmas Eve though, so my intention here is to share a few ideas for your own interpretation instead of a recipe. Anyways, I feel much more liberated and empowered when I creatively piece together a recipe rather than rigidly follow one step by step! And I want you to feel that way too.
Here is my loose plan:
Simmer apple cider (or cloudy, unfiltered apple juice) with spices and orange or cranberry juice for about an hour over low heat, covered. Once it is heated stir in a few splashes (or to taste!) of desired liqueur. Of course the alcohol could be left out if you need an alcohol-free version.
Ladle into a mug with a cinnamon stick and a spoon. Serve in a bowl on the side blanched almonds and raisins (or swap out raisins for dried cranberries if you like) so people can spoon as much as they like into their mugs.
Spices & Flavors (add any combination that sounds good to you):
- Cinnamon stick
- Ground cardamom or smashed cardamom pod
- Thin orange slices or orange peel (be careful not to take the bitter white part)
- Few splashes of orange juice or cranberry juice
- If you absolutely must, you can add some maple syrup, honey, or sugar but keep in mind you want the flavor of the spices to come through and not be overwhelmed by sweetness
- Calvados (apple brandy)
- Orange liqueur
Here's to embracing variations on a familiar tradition through the eye's of another culture and finding common ground with others around the world!