Happy Winos: Mulling over the new year

By Terry Sweeney
Right now, it makes my head hurt to think of all the Swedish mulled wine I drank while trying to adjust the recipe with a pinch of this and another pint of that. Lawd! This was my first time making that beloved Scandinavian winter time treat — GlÖgg (pronounced glug). The Swedes use glÖgg to recover from strenuous winter tasks like shoveling snow.  Since there was no snow, I just kept shoveling down the glÖgg!!
But I must say I finally got it right and served it at my Swedish-themed holiday party in a crock pot.  The house was filled with a warm inviting spicy aroma and my guests were extremely curious about the fragrant, purplish liquid simmering before them.  Curious but cautious. I couldn’t blame them.  After all, I myself have been the victim of many a party punch.  Hadn’t I been the first one in my college dorm to throw up rivers of purple after a dorky Spanish club sangria party? Hadn’t I practically proposed marriage to a girl who was a total stranger after getting mixed up with a very innocent looking Champagne punch?  And I’m not even straight! The list of embarrassments goes on and on.
So, naturally, I did not blame them for being tentative about giving it a  try.  But I had been very conscientious about cutting down the alcohol content of a recipe I had gotten from a friend (who is now in rehab) and also had plenty of food on hand to soak up the booze. Things like Swedish meatballs, chicken and apple sausage. smoked salmon, smoked ham and Swedish farm cheese on cocktail slices of pumpernickel and rye.  Traditional Swedish ginger snaps — and of course ABBA!
I can’t encourage you enough to add a theme to the next cocktail party you are having. People were excited to come to a party so out of the ordinary.  It was actually surprising how many of the guests had Swedish ancestors or friends or even a parent or two.   Even I suddenly remembered that my ex sister-in-law was Swedish from that Swedish American ice box called Minnesota. Whether it’s Spanish or Indian or Mexican or what have you, a theme will make your next Happy Wino party that much more memorable.
So here is my alcoholic friend’s recipe for traditional Swedish glÖgg which she got from her alcoholic Swedish friend who lives in Rome. I tweaked it a bit but there are countless variations of this recipe, depending on which Swede you talk to. Of course, you may vary the amount of alcohol to suit yourself.  Hey, you’re a grown up, just remember to drink responsibly. Or better yet, drink irresponsibly and call a cab. Cheers!

Sweeney’s Swedish glÖgg

6 bottles red wine — dry
2 bottles port (mid priced)
1/3 bottle acquavit
1/4 bottle brandy (mid priced)
12 cloves
20 figs chopped
2 cups golden raisins
6 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamon seeds
whole peel of 1 orange
whole caraway seed
• Put all in a pot except acquavit and brandy.
• Simmer for 3-4 hours then add the rest, never boil. Strain before serving.

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