Glögg– A Holiday Godsend

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Every %@*&-ing where I go. The store windows, the hideous wreaths on the bumpers of SUVs, the Holiday sweaters, the music (please, God, make it stop). I’m already up to my turtleneck in Holiday Crazy and we’re two weeks away from the big day.

It’s a tough, depressing time of year for a lot of people. The days are short, the nights are cold, and the pressure of putting forth good cheer is enough to drive anyone slightly mad. Alright, it’s enough to drive me mad. I promise not to speak for anyone else.

I should just count my blessings and remember all of those things I said a was grateful for over the last holiday.

One of the things for which I am currently grateful is the fact that I do not live in Sweden. It’s a gorgeous country alright, with gorgeous people and whatnots, but really. If it’s cold here, it’s colder there. And the nights? Long. Really, depressingly long.  I sometimes wonder how they get through the winter in one piece.

Apart from the medicinal use of sunlamps, one major way the Swedes cope with the winter blues is alcohol. And lots of it. Of course, this is how a lot of people cope with the Holiday season, so it’s a double-edged sword, really (do I need to mention that alcohol is a depressant?), so you may want to proceed with caution. May.

This winter, one of my several drinks of choice is a nod of solidarity with my Swedish brothers and sisters– glögg. It’s festive without trying too hard, it’s simple to make in large batches, it’s warm, it’s delicious, and, with the help of a little brandy, it really helps take the edge off the Holidays. And, of course, it’s just plain fun to say. If you’re not quite certain how to pronounce it, just sidle up to a Swede– they’re a friendly lot.


Makes about 6 servings

One of my favorite things about glögg (apart from its remarkable warming powers) is the fact that the Swedes have included bar snacks right there in the drink. By adding almonds and raisins that (usually) sink to the bottom of the glass, you’ve got one more reason to say  “bottoms up” or, if you really want to carry the Swedish thing a bit farther, “skål.”


1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine. Don’t be foolish enough to use one of your best bottles. One that is merely drinkable will do.

1 cup brandy

12 whole cloves

6 to 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

Two cinnamon sticks (you may break them into pieces, if you like)

1/2 cup sugar

4 to 6 strips of orange zest (which may be used later as garnish)

raisins and blanched almonds for garnish


1. Combine wine, brandy, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium head for about 15 minutes. Do not boil and do not over-simmer or else you will cause too much of the precious, medicinal alcohol to evaporate. Stir in sugar and orange zest.

2. Sprinkle raisins and almonds into the bottoms of however many glasses you’re using.

3. Strain glögg through a sieve, saving the orange zest for garnish, if using, pour into awaiting glasses, and serve hot.

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7 Responses to Glögg– A Holiday Godsend

  1. jodi says:

    I’m thinking about giving out “glogg kits” like other people give out those little cones of cocoa mix. Maybe some ribbon. Homemade ribbon! Stamped with pictures of meese or kiwanis. I’m feeling very Martha Stewart. 🙂

  2. Lindsay says:

    We adore glögg in my family (on the Johanson side). My uncle and his buddy whip up several gallons every December and share it with family & friends. We generally enjoy it on Christmas Eve as a fireside nightcap. God Jul!

  3. michaelprocopio says:

    Well, hey there, Lindsay! I was so very happy to see your comment.

    I think might glögg is my new favorite thing of the season. I tend to make it at the first sign of chill in the air, even though there are no Swedes to be found anywhere hanging from my family tree.

    God Jul, to you, too. And to Temple.

  4. Sean says:

    It warms my cold, cold heart to know that you detest Christmas music as much as I. There’s not enough glögg in the world to make it bearable.

  5. My best friends who moved to Kanab,Utah and who are therefore no longer my best friends although they now work for Best Friends used to make this every year in a giant cauldron. Oh, how many photos there are of them setting their kitchen on fire! And oh, how many drunk people spent the night passed out in their basement!

    They used to make cookies with the liquor-soaked fruit and stuff at the bottom of the pot.

  6. michaelprocopio says:

    Sean– No, there isn’t glögg enough. But it doesn make Andy Williams just a little more bearable.

    David– A CAULDRON? Seriously? I really, really want a cauldron for Christmas now.

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