A Norwegian Holiday Favorite: Christmas Glogg

A Norwegian Holiday Favorite: Christmas Glogg

...as in glug, glug, glug.

In the winter months we crave comfort; those objects, drinks, foods, and people that most soothe away the bitter cold and winter winds. My family is no different, and being of Norwegian stock and inhabiting the rocky coasts of Maine, they seem to know how to do winter-time comfort better than most. At Christmas time I could always count on a thick woven blanket of wool socks from grandmother (Grammy), and the spicy alcohol-tinged sweetness of glogg. A recent episode of All Things Considered brought these great holiday memories back to life.

Pronounced “Glug”, glogg is a traditional Norwegian drink that my grandmother would make around the holidays. I remember her in her high-ceilinged kitchen, leaning over the big battered metal pot, stirring the spiced smelling stuff with a big wooden spoon. She’d spoon up a steamy mouthful, blow it warm, and let me taste it. As a child I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever had. Of course, older and with a more tempered pallet, the smell and of glogg has become indistinguishable from pine needles, cinammon, and cocoa for reminding me of Christmas.

Traditionally, glogg requires a type of traditional Norwegian potato alcohol called aquavit. However, my grandmother always used a good brandy. Here’s an easy recipe for making Christmas glogg.

First, soak ½ a cup of raisins in brandy for several hours at room temperature. While those are soaking put a large pot on the stove and dissolve ½ cup of sugar into one cup of water over high heat.

Next, lower the heat and dump the raisins and brandy into the sugar water. Use a wooden spoon to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Add four whole cloves, six crushed cardamom seeds, an orange peel, and two sticks of cinnamon broken in half. Some add ginger and blanched almonds. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon on medium heat.

Finally, add two cups of brandy and two cups of pinot noir or burgundy wine on low heat. You may also add some brown sugar to sweeten, and more of the other spices to your taste. When it’s just right, strain the mixture and pour it back into the pot. Serve it to guests warm from the stove.

Glogg is a fantastic holiday drink that warms you inside and (should you drink enough) on the outside too. It does go down pretty easily, so you’ll want to enjoy it responsibly. Glogg also goes great with another Norwegian treat, bakkelse (pronounced “buckles”), or friend cookies dusted in powdered sugar.