Let’s face it: The holidays are exhausting. Granted, they can also be tremendous fun, but even that “fun” usually requires a fair bit of work: travel, shopping, cooking, cleaning…even the actual fun stuff can be super draining. Who hasn’t spent an extra few hours in the morning after nursing the after-effects of too much revelry? (I’ve even had debilitating muscle soreness from laughing too much.)
All of this is to say that we owe ourselves a bit of rejuvenation and re-energizing every once and a while, and so I created this fully-non-alcoholic and moderately caffeinated drink to keep in your holiday arsenal.
Glögg is a northern European (mostly Swedish) mulled wine made with spices infused into a spirit like aquavit or brandy, which is then mixed with red wine and served with chunks of fruit and nuts and served ubiquitously throughout the holiday season. I was hard-pressed to find a zero-proof version, so I made one myself. Rather than wine, I used Proteau Ludlow Red, which is one member of the line of zero-proof botanical drinks that I created using the overlapping culinary traditions of the Lower East Side as inspiration.
Ludlow Red comes pre-packed with botanicals like roasted dandelion root, black pepper, licorice, and chamomile, but for this recipe I turned the dial to 11. Adding in traditional glögg spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest, I also dropped in some less traditional elements like persimmon and Grade B maple syrup (now called Grade A Dark Color & Robust flavor). The real kicker is the cold brew coffee, which is something I learned from my husband, Michael, who regularly combines coffee and Ludlow Red for a late Friday afternoon pre-happy hour pick me up.
This drink might seem a little chaotic at first, but one sip and you’ll see why this is a perfect match for the holiday season. —John deBary
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Serves 4 to 5
(750 milliliter) bottle Proteau Ludlow Red (see Author Notes)
cold brew coffee (store-bought or homemade)
small oranges, zested
hachiya or fuyu persimmon, chopped into small chunks
(4-inch) piece of Ceylon cinnamon, crushed
whole nutmeg seed, finely grated
non-alcoholic vanilla flavoring
Grade B maple syrup
Raisins and whole almonds, for garnish
- In a medium pan on the lowest possible heat, combine all ingredients except for raisins and almonds. Heat mixture until steaming, stirring frequently to prevent it from boiling. Cover and turn off heat. Let steep for 60 to 90 minutes. Once cool, strain through a gold coffee filter and discard solids.
- To serve, add to a clean pan and bring back up to steaming, careful to not let it boil. Once warm, ladle into a heatproof mug with a handful of raisins and almonds to top off.
- Make-ahead notes: You can make this drink up to two days in advance. After straining, transfer to a container and keep in the refrigerator, and re-heat as needed.