Hot, spiced and boosted with wine and spirits, gløgg is an elixir worthy of the vikings. Throughout the month of December, this libation is a Nordic staple, served in cafes, doled out from street carts and ladled at social gatherings. It’s the season’s response to the cold and dark and as ubiquitous as herring. Most home cooks will make their own brew, either enabled by a mix or from scratch. This recipe is my version of gløgg from scratch, and I encourage you to try this method. It avoids the cloying sweetness often found with mixes and is remarkably easy to prepare. You don’t have to splurge on a nice bottle of wine for this recipe, but be sure it has heft.
Serves 8 to 10 friends.
For the garnish:
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/2 cup whole almonds (optional)
For the gløgg:
1 1/2 cups Port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/3 cup brown sugar
Zest of 2 untreated or organic oranges, shaved in strips with a vegetable peeler
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bottles full-bodied red wine
Fresh orange slices as garnish
Prepare the garnish:
Combine the raisins and Cointreau in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (Raisins may be prepared up to one week in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use). Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove. Remove from heat and coarsely chop in large pieces.
Prepare the gløgg:
Combine all of the ingredients except the 2 bottles of red wine in a heavy large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, 12-15 minutes. Add red wine and warm over low heat with the lid on the pot. Do not let the gløgg come to a boil (lest the spirits will evaporate!)
To serve, add a spoonful each of raisins and almonds, if using, to a glass or mug. Strain gløgg into glass. Garnish with fresh orange slices. Serve with a spoon for scooping up the raisins and almonds.