A table laid with two glasses of glögg and gingerbread biscuits.
Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

Schnapps and glögg

Schnapps and hot spicy wine, glögg, 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.

Admittedly, some probably use the snaps (in English known by the German name schnapps) as an excuse to sing drinking songs, an inevitable part of the schnapps drinking.

Helan går – drinking song

Helan går

Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej

Helan går

Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Och den som inte helan tar

Han heller inte halvan får

Helan går

*drink*

Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Goes well with herring

A glass of 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.

A hand holding a glass of schnapps. A blurred person's head is seen in the background.
The schnapps is traditionally served in a small long-stemmed schnapps glass. Photo: Janus Langhorn/imagebank.sweden.se

In Sweden it is customary to offer guests a glass of schnapps 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 schnapps glass may be decorated with the Swedish equivalent of Father Christmas. The most popular among the traditional drinking songs is probably ‘Helan går’.

Glögg

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.

Glögg recipe

Dry red wine*, 750 ml
Brandy*, 75 ml
Honey, 100 g
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
3 cloves
Zest of 1 orange

Warm it all in a pan. Pour through a sieve. Serve with raisins and almonds.

*Use a red cordial instead of wine and brandy for an alcohol-free version.