Glögg: Warm and Wonderful

Growing up, Pat Palmer of Baileys Harbor watched his father make and bottle glögg and give it to his friends at Christmas. “I just picked up on it,” says Palmer, who has been making his own glögg for more than 30 years.

The traditional Scandinavian mulled wine is a perfect warmer-upper, and Palmer claims it has medicinal qualities, too. “If you feel a cold coming on, or have sinus trouble, glögg will clear you right up.” He also recommends it as insurance against the cold while engaging in outdoor activities that don’t require driving. “Blowing snow, cross-country skiing – a little glögg is just so warm and wonderful.”

Illustration by Ryan Miller
Illustration by Ryan Miller

Palmer makes large batches of glögg, bottles it and keeps it on hand during the holidays for when friends stop in. Like his dad, he also gives it away as gifts. “In November, all my friends start dropping off their empty bottles. It’s a reminder that they’re ready for more.”

Glögg is also a festive party offering. “It’s a great moment when you’ve been cooking the glögg for an hour or two, and everybody gathers around the pot while you light it,” says Palmer, who says lighting the mixture briefly adds depth and smokiness to the flavor. After a brief burn-off, out come the ladle and the mugs, and everybody gets their glögg on.

Although too much glögg could certainly impair one’s memory, it is a memorable drink. Recently, Palmer ran into a former colleague whom he hadn’t seen for more than 10 years. The first thing his friend said to him was, “Hey man, are you still making that glögg?”

Recipes for glögg vary, but they all include wine, alcohol and fruit. Palmer’s version kicks it up a notch with the addition of grain alcohol. “My dad was Irish,” Palmer explains. Whatever version you try, be warned:  Glögg goes down mighty easy.

Patrick Palmer’s Double Recipe for Glögg

  • 1 gallon port wine (can substitute red wine)
  • 1 orange peel, 2 cinnamon sticks, cloves (in cheesecloth bag)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart brandy
  • 750 ml Everclear (or other grain alcohol)
  • almonds
  • prunes, raisins and dried apricots – a handful of each
  • Simmer the wine, spices and sugar for 1½ hours. Do not boil.
  • Pour in brandy; bring the mixture just to the boiling point.
  • Remove the pan from heat.
  • Pour in grain alcohol. Carefully light the glögg and let it burn for about 10 seconds.
  • Remove spices.
  • Pour cooled glögg into bottles, including several almonds and pieces of dried fruit in each bottle.
  • Reheat glögg carefully, do not boil.