Holiday Memory: Gullan’s Glögg

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on December 23, 2013

Every year, as a tribute to my dear mother, Julia Looper Rex, I republish this blog post that first appeared on the Five More Minutes With website in 2011. It always makes me smile as I recount this beloved holiday memory of Mom. I hope you will enjoy it, too!

And if you are interested in making Glögg at home, here’s a video from New York City’s legendary Aquavit Restaurant. Looks pretty yummy!

A Holiday Memory of Mom

When I was a child, one of my mother’s dearest friends hailed from Sweden. Desperately homesick and longing for her country’s unique holiday traditions, each year around Thanksgiving Gullan would show up on our doorstep with a batch of homemade pepparkakar (pepper cookies) and a bottle of Glögg.

Our family soon learned that Glögg is a popular winter-time beverage in Sweden, made from an intriguing mix of what seemed to us (at least during the innocent days of the 1960s) some pretty exotic ingredients: red wine, Aquavit, Madeira, whole cardamom, cinnamon sticks, candied orange peel, raisins, and blanched almonds.

My mother, a dyed-in-the-wool teetotaler at the time, looked askance at the annual bottle of Glögg. But, in deference to her friend’s beloved homeland, she took a few tentative sips of the warm, sweet wine punch. And then a few more.

As I remember things, Mom always got a bit tipsy while my father enjoyed his cup of holiday cheer along with Mom’s merry mood.

Gullan’s husband was transferred back to Europe and Mom passed on seven years ago, but my mind often wanders back to those simpler, more innocent days and the warm, soothing drinks of winter like hot chocolate, hot toddies, and, of course, Gullan’s Glögg.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

  • Holiday Glögg has been a tradition in my family for years. We always have a crock-pot of our own recipe (port, vodka, brandy, spices, almonds and dried cranberries) going in our cabin where we down hill ski.

    Reading this story got me thinking of how our children might just remember some of the fine details of our family times together. Thanks for sharing this.

    Comment by Trent — December 14, 2010

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