It is our firm belief at Travel Freak that one of the best ways to explore a new place is with a stiff drink in your hand. Bonus points if the drink is a local concoction not readily available anywhere else. Join us for Thirsty Thursday, when we wet your virtual whistle with tasty, tantalizing, and sometimes terrifying inebriants from around the world.
Leave it to the folks closest to the Arctic Circle to perfect an ancient form of hot alcohol.
Called glögg in Sweden, gløgg in Norway and Denmark, or glögi in Finland — and so we don’t have to keep typing those weird O’s, just plain glogg here at Travel Freak — this mulled wine with an added kick is a Scandinavian mainstay, consumed by the truckload around Christmas and during the frigid winter months.
People have been tossing back mugs of mulled wine since the Ancient Romans added herbs and spices to their drink of choice for medicinal purposes. Over the course of several centuries, this zesty brew spread throughout Europe and became so popular that by the 1890s it was a Christmas tradition around most of the continent. Today there are innumerable regional recipes for mulled wine, but it’s the Scandinavian version that will wrap you in the warmest booze blanket when you come in from the cold.
That’s because glogg is punched up a notch by adding port wine and spirits to the mix. The type of liquor used varies — Swedish glogg is typically spiked with akvavit (a Scandinavian spirit flavored with caraway or dill) and the Finns tend to pour vodka into their glogg pots, but brandy is the most common additive. Together with spices like orange peel, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon, the supplemental spirits give glogg its fiery warmth, and floating garnishes like bitter almonds and raisins set it even further apart from other mulled wines.
The best part about glogg is that you don’t need to reach for the top shelf when selecting the alcoholic ingredients. Because of the spices and the long brewing process (at least an hour and a half on the stove), inexpensive wine, port, and spirits will taste pretty much the same as the pricey stuff.
Choose a glogg recipe (this one looks delicious to us) and prepare it in mass quantities, because whatever you don’t drink right away you can save for another chilly day. In fact, the longer it ages the better it tastes, so make some now and bottle it up so that next Christmas you can get wasted like a Swede off of some quality glogg.
Photo courtesy of A . via Flickr (CC BY-SA 3.0)