In December, the heady aroma of red wine and cinnamon swirls through Beverly Elander’s home in the historic Stockade District.
Following the holiday tradition of her Norwegian ancestors, for many years, Elander has stirred up a big pot of glögg, a warm and spicy alcoholic drink, and served it to her friends.
Her grandmother’s handwritten recipe for the Scandinavian beverage, tattered with age, hangs in a glass frame next to the stove on the kitchen wall.
“Mom used to make it a few weeks before Christmas,” says Elander. “Mom said one sip and her eyes would cross, and she would write 150 Christmas cards.”
On a recent rainy evening, Elander, a restaurant critic for The Daily Gazette, invited me over to sample some vintage glögg that she had saved from 2014.
Like Elander, I am Norwegian-American, so I brought along some Jarlsberg and gjetost, another Norwegian cheese that is dark brown and buttery with a carmel-y flavor.
Vintage glögg is a bit different than the fresh version.
“This is mellow and too sweet,” she says.
Of course, that didn’t stop us from sipping and probably enhanced the stories we exchanged about our ancestors.
Elander had her first taste of glögg when she was a girl.
“My mom and dad would host a little Christmas party.
Dad would serve the glögg.”
As Elander and her sister helped clean up after the party, they would gobble up the almonds and raisins that were left in the bottom of the guests’ punch cups.
“We slept very well that night,” Elander says.
The nuts and fruit that collected on the bottom of the glögg pot would be saved, too.
“Mom always made my birthday applesauce cake with chopped glögg raisins and almonds.”
Elander and her sister having been making their own glögg for decades.
In recent years, her nephew Alexander, who works at a ski resort in Wyoming, has started making it for guests.
“Now we have the fourth generation of glögg makers,” says Elander.
Half gallon of port wine
2 quarts of vodka
2 cups of sugar
7 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
7 cardamon pods
2 cups of raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
Cheesecloth or fine white handkerchief
Pour wine and vodka into a large pot.
Add almonds and raisins.
Put the spices in the cheesecloth or handkerchief, enclose and tie in a small bag.
Add the spice bag to the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to barely a simmer.
Serve the glögg warm in punch cups.