Each year for the holidays, we select a different country and explore their traditions and perhaps, most importantly their cuisine. This past season we spent some time with Sweden and made a full on Smorgasbord. It was hit or miss, but a lot of fun none-the-less. I actually have started considering a rematch. Since I now have the framework of tradition under my belt (figuratively and literally), I’ve brainstormed some tweaks and revisions here and there that could really make the various dishes shine. But that’s another blog altogether.
However, one of the best elements of the dinner was the glögg! It really hit the spot and went down pretty easy…maybe a bit too easily. The warm depth of baking spices blended wonderfully with the raisiny and nutty density of the port wine. The rum and bourbon took the warming quality to the next level. As the spice aromas filled the house and the light boozy burn warmed us from the inside, we decided that glögg was the perfect foil to the cold snowy night outside our door and would definitely be a tradition that we carry over from year to year.
So when Jordan Devereaux of Chemistry of the Cocktail, this month’s host of Mixology Monday, announced that his theme would be fortified wine, I knew exactly what I would be making. It was the perfect excuse to make this again. Here is Jordan”s description of this month’s theme,
Fortified wines began, in large part, as a way to deal with the difficulties of shipping wine long distances in the holds of sailing ships. Without the rigorous sterilization that is possible today, wines would often spoil en route. However, increasing the alcohol concentration to around 20% ABV was enough to keep them from going off. Coincidentally, this also made it possible to age those wines for very long periods, increasing their richness and depth.
These wines held an important place in the ur-cocktails of punch and have continued on in cocktails proper, the personal punches of the past several hundred years. Though less common nowadays, sherry, port, and, to a lesser extent, madeira and marsala, all find their way into various mixed drinks.
For this month’s Mixology Monday, I’d like to see what you all can do with these versatile wines. They can play many different roles – from taking the place of vermouths in classic drinks, to providing richness and sweetness in winter tipples, to serving as a base for lighter aperitifs. Whether forgotten classics or new creations, let’s see what you can put together.
Click here to read the MxMo round up.
Granted glögg is one of those things were you can find seemingly infinite variations. Everyone of them claiming to be the most authentic recipe that so and so’s Swedish/Norweigen/Danish/Finnish/etc. grandmother/grandfather made and passed down as had been done for generations. I make no such claim. I found a couple of recipes that looked decent and co-mingled them to come up with this version. So here is our recipe: …At least I think this is what I did last time…
1 (750 ml) bottle Port, Ruby or Tawny (I used the tawny last time and I think I prefer that)
6 oz Bourbon or Rye
6 oz Rum
2-3 Cardamom Pods, cracked
1 Cinnamon Stick, cracked in half (or about 2 tsp. Cinnamon Chips)
3-4 Whole Cloves
3 points of a Star Anise
1 small sliver of Ginger
Peel of half a large Orange
1-1/2 oz Raisins, plus some for garnish
1/2 oz Almonds, blanched and slivered, plus some for garnish
2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar
Combine everything in a medium saucepan except for the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the temperature so that only a few bubbles surface at a time. Let it slow simmer, or just under simmer, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then light the pot on fire with a match and let it burn for about 30 seconds. Pour the sugar into the flames. Woohoo! Now cover the pot with a lid to put out the fire. Give it a few good stirs to dissolve the sugar and then return to lid to the pot and let it rest for an hour.
Strain out the solids and your ready to go. Serve warm and garnish, if you like, with some raisins and almonds in the bottom of the glass. Optionally, you can also add an orange peel garnish.
I think it actually gets better if you allow the glögg to cool completely and then reheat to serve. It gives the flavors more time to mellow and blend together.
Enjoy the pleasant burn and keep warm. Skål!