This recipe, from chef Marcus Samuelsson’s “Aquavit” cookbook, is what David Carlson serves in his Belfast bar, Three Tides. It calls for vodka, but you can substitute Brennivín aquavit, a recent import to Maine. This glögg contains less alcohol than Carlson’s family recipe, has a stronger orange flavor, and it doesn’t involve lighting anything on fire. Start it at least 24 hours ahead so the vodka can infuse.

Serves 8 to 10

2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces

1 teaspoon (about 4) cardamom pods

1 small piece of ginger root, peeled

Grated zest of 1/2 orange

6 whole cloves

1/2 cup vodka

1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine

1 cup ruby port or Madeira

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup dark raisins

Crush the cinnamon and cardamom using a mortar and pestle. Put them in a small glass jar and add the ginger root, zest, cloves and vodka. Let the mixture steep for 24 hours.

Strain the flavored vodka through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan. Discard the spices. Add the red wine, port or Madeira, sugar, almonds and raisins.

Heat over medium heat until bubbles just start to form around edges and the sugar is dissolved.

Serve the hot glögg in mugs with a few almonds and raisins in each mug.


This is the recipe used by David Carlson’s family at holiday parties and family gatherings. The glögg is set on fire, so Carlson urges home cooks to keep a lid by the stove to extinguish the flames, if need be. He also suggests avoiding sieves that have plastic handles that can melt.

“The biggest thing you don’t want to do is use powdered clove,” Carlson says. Once, he explains, his brother wanted to make the recipe for college friends. All he had in the kitchen was powdered (or ground) cloves, so that’s what he used.

“After about two glasses,” Carlson said, “people’s mouths started going numb.”

Serves 8-10

1 bottle Brennivín aquavit

1 bottle dry red wine

10 cardamom pods, crushed

5 whole cloves

3 pieces dried orange peel, chopped

4 dried figs

1 cup blanched almonds

1 cup raisins

11/2 inch cinnamon stick

1/2 pound sugar cubes

Pour the aquavit into a pot on the stove that is wide enough to accommodate a metal mesh sieve with a long handle. Add the remaining ingredients except the sugar cubes and heat the mixture slowly to the boiling point. Remove from heat.

Put the sugar cubes in the sieve. Dip them into the hot mulled wine to moisten. Light the cubes on fire with a match and allow to burn.

Continue dipping the sieve into the glögg until the sugar has melted. Cover the pot to put out the flame. (Make-ahead: You can cool and strain the glögg at this point and keep it in closed bottles. Re-heat the glögg to serve, but do not let it boil.)

Serve hot in small glasses with a few figs, almonds and raisins in each glass.

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