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How The Scandinavian Glögg Became A Christmas Staple

How The Scandinavian Glögg Became A Christmas Staple

The Christmas spirit is about sipping on warm drinks, huddled together on a sofa or a comfy rug, watching a good movie, opening presents or just talking and making merry. This is the time to cosily wrap up against wintry weather and cooling climes while gulping drinks that radiate warmth through the body, taking away a bit of the harsh chill. In the festive season, many classic cocktails and drinks make an appearance at dinner parties and gatherings to celebrate the joy of the season and to warm oneself against the sharp chill. 

Glögg is a favourite and traditional choice during this season, a Scandinavian mulled wine that can be served warm or by blending it with some delicious aromatics and spices to turn it into a classic Christmas cocktail.

Heated Wine: A History of Glögg

This Scandinavian drink can be traced back to the Middle Ages when the method of spicing and heating wine to make a mulled concoction was widely practiced across Europe. The word glögg is in fact derived from the Old Norse word ‘glödga’ which means ‘to heat’ or ‘to burn.'

It is said that in the 16th century, glögg was a popular drink among messengers who would ski or travel on horseback during cool climes. However, over time, the drink, popular in Sweden became intertwined with Scandinavian winter celebrations characterised by additions of spices like cloves and cardamom to the original recipe.

Often served with raisins and almonds, Swedish glögg is accompanied by other seasonal treats like ginger snaps, chewy gingerbread or Christmas cookies. The tradition of drinking mulled wine in Sweden carries German and Dutch influences, although it is now a drink enjoyed across many countries. 

The mulled wine had all but disappeared during the prohibition of late 19th century, however by the mid 1900s, it was widely advertised in Fenno-Swedish magazines, becoming a popular drink in both Finland and Sweden.

Making a glögg cocktail at home is a very simple process and requires only the best quality of wine and spices to extract maximum flavour and aroma from the warm drink. While glögg would require you to just heat wine and spices, a cocktail includes other ingredients like a spot of brandy or even orange liqueur.

Read on below for a classic recipe to make a glögg cocktail at home as a warm drink on Christmas evenings enjoyed with intimate friends and family:


1 bottle (750 ml) red wine

1 cup brandy

1 cup vodka (optional)

1 cup light brown sugar

8-10 crushed cardamom pods 

6-7 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise pods

Peel of one orange

Peel of one lemon

For the garnish:

Raisins and sliced blanched almonds


In a large saucepan, add the wine and vodka.

As the mixture heats, add cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange and lemon peels and light brown sugar.

Keep the saucepan on the stove until the mixture starts to simmer. Stir occasionally.

Turn off the heat and stir in the brandy.

Let the spices soak in the alcohol concoction for two to three hours.

Strain the liquid to separate the spices and peels from the mixture.

Garnish with raisins and blanched almonds. Glögg is now ready to be enjoyed.

Make a glögg cocktail at home for your next house party using some quality wine. Go for a bottle of Ketel One Premium Distilled Vodka and some quality brandy if you plan to add these to your cocktail for an elevated layer of flavour.

Concluding Notes…

Glögg is a classic Scandinavian drink which was sipped by messengers as they rode through treacherous snow on horseback or on skis. Today, the cocktail is a delicious Christmas treat and can be easily brewed at home. Get your saucepans out and make a trip to the wine cellar to heat up glögg!

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