Snaps and glögg means aquavit, a traditional flavoured spirit, and hot mulled wine. They are a part of the Swedish culinary tradition.
Both those who prefer to skip the aquavit and those who carefully select their favourite one know that this form of vodka is among the pleasures of the Swedish table. It is traditionally served in a small long-stemmed ‘snaps glass’ of a type which, of course, is made by several of Sweden’s famous crystal glassworks.
A glass of snaps (sometimes known by the German name schnapps) may be large or small, but it is distilled from grain or potatoes and may be spiced in an endless variety of flavours, always taken from nature. Wormwood, caraway, St. John’s wort, bog-myrtle and blackcurrant are typical examples.
In Sweden it is customary to offer guests a snaps when herring is served. Aquavit is also among the usual accompaniments during those late summer parties featuring whole crayfish boiled with dill, as well as at Christmas, when a snaps glass may be decorated with the Swedish equivalent of Santa Claus. The Swedes often sing traditional drinking songs with their snaps. The most popular one is called ‘Helan går’.
Glögg is a spiced, sugared and simmered (or ‘mulled’) red wine. In Sweden this is a beverage consumed almost exclusively during the Christmas season, usually with raisins and blanched almonds added. Glögg is preferably served in a special little mug with a handle.