A favorite wintertime beverage of mine is homemade Swedish mulled wine known as Glögg. Made with red wine, varying spirits -- such vodka, brandy, or my favorite, aquavit -- sugar (though I personally tend to go very light on this ingredient!), and a wide variety of spices like cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon, with one sip, this heated beverage embodies the taste of holiday festivities for me! Its rich, blood-red color reminds me, of course, of the quartet of vampires in The Nightmare Before Christmas, and it seems a fitting tribute to them this holiday season!
2 1/4-inch thick slices peeled fresh ginger
1 T. cardamom pods, lightly smashed
3 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 T. whole allspice
2 wide strips fresh orange peel (zest only)
6 juniper berries
4 black peppercorns
1 c. aquavit or vodka (sometimes I even use Absolut Pear)
1 c. ruby port
2 750 ml. bottles dry/medium bodied red wine
sugar cubes, as needed
raisins and blanched almonds (as garnish)
Tie the spices in cheesecloth and place in a glass container with the aquavit (or vodka) and cover; let steep 12-24 hours.
Remove spices and strain vodka, if necessary. Add port and wine to vodka mixture in large saucepan and place over moderate heat until just steaming (do not boil). Though some recipes add as much as 1 cup or even 1-1/2 cups of sugar, I don't like mine so syrupy sweet. I ladle the warm glögg into cups and add several almonds and a spoonful of raisins to each serving. I then serve with a bowl of sugar cubes and let each guest add 1-3 cubes, as desired. (Makes about 10 cups.)