Glögi – Spiced Drink for December

Glögi is the Finnish equivalent of mulled wine, and before Christmas its readymade incarnations start to appear in the stores – some with alcohol, but most without. I find them usually way too sugary, and that’s why I always thought that I just don’t care for the drink that much. It wasn’t until this weekend that I tried making my own and realized how delicious glögi can be. My mind is now buzzing with possible additions, which means glögi will be abundant around our little home this December!


Finnish glögi rarely has citrus peel as a flavor component like its Central European cousins, but cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are essential. I added a few spices that aren’t all that traditional – dried mint, pink peppercorns, and star aniseed – just because I personally love them, and they did add a certain freshness to the flavor. I also cut down on the amount of cloves, since often there’s a whole tablespoonful of them in a similar recipe, and I think their taste can get wildly overpowering. I would use the recipe below as a starting point and tweak it to your own tastes.

The kind of juice that is used as a base also has an important role – we use a red currant juice concentrate that Heikki’s mother has made from her own berries, and it lends quite an authentic color and flavor to the drink. Grape juice or even lingonberry or cranberry would surely be worth trying out. This spice infusion would probably be lovely added to some warmed up apple juice, or black currant juice for the sneezy days, and I can see it spicing up my cup of tea even. Finns often add some almonds and raisins in their glögi mug, but I prefer mine without.

This is what I used:

  • 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or 1 stick)
  • 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 star aniseed
  • a pinch of allspice
  • 3 dl water

I placed all the above in a small cooking pot, brought to a brisk boil, and lowered the heat so that the mixture was barely bubbling. Now I covered the pan and let the spice mixture simmer for half an hour, and then sieved it through a cheese cloth into a small jug.

To make a cup of glögi, I use about 3 tablespoons of the spice infusion, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of red currant juice Heikki’s mom has made, and 1 and 1/2 dl of hot water. It all depends on how sugary the juice is. This recipe yields about 2 dl of the spicy mixture, which I would say is enough for about five glögi portions. I store what’s left over in a small bottle in the fridge. An alcoholic version could be made with half red wine and half fruit juice, or by adding a little bit of vodka (or another spirit of choice) in the glögi mug.