Glögg is a velvet hammer. Who would think that combining wine, port, and hard liquor together would make for a easy to drink but strong libation? OK, pretty much everybody who has ever paid attention in Health class, but it took me by surprise.
Mulled wine and hot wine drinks of all sorts are a staple of the holiday party circuit. Take some adequate wine, some spices, heat it up, and add a cold day and you've got a drink that takes the edge off while warming you from head to toe.
I started with this recipe from 1979 from Craig Goldwyn. I didn't want to make a gallon of glögg, so I halved many of the ingredients and added some extra spices to give it more kick.
Ideally you should use an inexpensive American port and a slightly harsh red wine. An inexpensive rioja or beaujolais is ideal. The key ingedient is the aquavit. Port and aquavit are similar in many ways. Both port and aquavit are aged and concentrated traditionally by setting them in casks on a ship that travels great distances.
Aquavit, like vodka, is a potato based spirit. It is found in standard and "line" versions. In the case of "line" aquavit, the ship must travel across the equator and back. This smooths the harshness of the caraway and herb-infused white liquor. You can find aquvit at most good liquor and wine stores, and it should set you back only about $20-25/bottle.
Of course you can experiment with herbs and spices in your glögg. Some people don't like the almonds and raisins in their drink and some will complain about the grit from any undissolved spices. You can filter the drink, but I find the extra bits and pieces very nice.
This recipe serves about 8-10 glasses, so adjust for the size of your party.
Glögg from a recipe by Craig Goldwyn
1 750ml (standard) bottle red wine, preferably young and harsh
1 750ml (standard) bottle port wine, nothing too expensive
1/2 750ml bottle of a "line" Aquavit (I use Linie brand)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground cloves or 8 whole cloves (whole is preferred)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
peel of one orange or two clementines, plus some for garnish
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (not pods, not ground cardamom - seeds. Break the seeds out of the pods if necessary
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup blanched almonds - no skins
2 cups granulated suar
3 allspice berries, whole
1 star anise
First, be careful. You're working with flammable spirits near fire, which can be a very bad mix indeed.
Away from the stove, and nowhere near a flame, combine all the ingredients together in a big pot. Transfer the pot to the stove and turn the heat on medium-low. You want this drink hot, but you don't want to boil off the alcohol. Under NO circumstance should you let this mix boil. If it should start to bubble or roll, reduce the heat immediately.
Mull (that is, cook over the low heat) for 20-30 minutes before serving. Serve with a little of the rasins and almonds in each glass, and garnish with a little extra orange peel The longer you let it go, the more the spices will influence the flavor. You should taste a tart and sweet spice in each glass with just a hint of caraway from the aquavit in the afterbreath of each sip.