Fearful Symmetries

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23 December, 2006

Hot Toddies

I've recently started writing a couple columns up at Dane101.com: Memo From the (Other) Beer Desk and Liquor Locker Letters. Neither of the names is mine, for the record. I want to reprint my first LLL entry as it's quite appropriate for the season.

At some point this balmy weather shall turn to winter and it will actually be cold & snowy outside. It can't be long before the streets are bathed in snow. And when that happens, you will want to be prepared with a heady drink to fend off the chill. To that end, I am going to present a couple hot drinks to shelter you through this season and perhaps also make strained family gatherings a bit more palatable.

Glögg (pronounced "gloog") is mulled wine or wine heated with spices. The drink is native to Scandinavia and to their neighbors across the North Sea, the Danes, as well as to the folks a bit west across the Atlantic Ocean in Iceland. Recipes vary but here is a basic one that is leftover from my New Year's party of 2005:

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups red wine
1 3/4 cups port
1 cup sugar
Peel from 2 oranges
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cardamom pods
10 cloves
1 cup aquavit
8 tablespoons raisins
8 tablespoons chopped almonds

Warm wine and port with sugar in a pot over medium heat. Put orange peel and spices in a cheesecloth bag and tie off. Add to wine. Simmer 20 minutes. Add aquavit and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove spices. Place 1 tablespoon each of raisins and almonds in mugs and add hot wine.

Aquavit or akavit ("water of life") is a clear distilled liquor that's flavored. In the case of the Aalborg akavit from last year's party, it was flavored with caraway, although you can also find varieties with anise, citrus, etc. Vodka is a frequent substitute and, with this being Wisconsin, brandy is also used commonly.

In Finland the drink is known as Glögi and I approached a friend of mine whose parents are from there for a Finnish take on the elixir. His father said that Finns often add juniper berries to the steeping process and I would imagine that 10-12 of them would do the trick for the above recipe. He also said that the addition of cranberries or cloudberries adds a regional touch. Methinks a trip to Douglas County (the heart of Finnish Wisconsin) is in order for further Glögi research.

Glögg or Glögi or Gløgg or however you want to spell it is a tasty way to keep warm and, with all that red wine, is surely an excellent source of flavonoids.

The next drink to aid you in keeping warm this winter comes from Hungary. Not only is the drink native to that country, but the recipe comes from another friend's cousin who lives there.

The drink is called Mézes Ágyas Pálinka which translates to "Concubine palinka with honey". Palinka is Hungarian brandy that is made from plums, apples, pears, apricots, or cherries. The recipe I was given contains a metric measurement which I've (roughly) converted as well as a couple ingredients that lack any indication of just how much to use. I've not yet made this drink so some experimentation is in order.

Ingredients:
1 liter fruit brandy (palinka)
20-30 dkg honey
dried fruit (raisin, peach, prune, etc.)
clove
cinnamon

The honey is in dekagrams above. 20-30 dkg comes out to a range of roughly 7-9 ounces. (N.B. - these are ounces of weight, not fluid ounces.)

To prepare:
Put the honey in a large bottle and then place bottle in a water-filled pot. Heat the water until it's boiling, and the honey becomes fluid. Stop heating!

Pour the palinka slowly into the bottle. Then add the dried fruit, clove, and cinnamon.

Let it grow cold, and then let it relax for 3-7 days. During this period you can shake it sometimes.

Stir well while heating and serve.

When summer comes back around, you can also drink it cold, but, I am told, not ice-cold! Shake well before serving.

In addition to keeping up with area brew news and tasting & reviewing beer, I've also got a couple other ideas in mind for articles and one involves bracket. The problem is that I can't fucking find any in this town! I went into Steve's Liquor on University yesterday after work and, after not seeing any, asked if there was some to be had. I got a blank look and was asked, "What's that?" I was hoping to find some from White Winter Winery up north but would have settled for any brand. So I was really shit out of luck. This only exacerbated the situation as I was told by the folks at Star Liquor on Willy Street that they had no plans to carry any of the brackets from the Viking Brewing Company, again up north. I've never had the Viking stuff but am keen on trying it. And White Winter's traditional oak bracket is da bomb! I really don't want to have to drive up to Iron River but needs must when the devil drives.
|| Palmer, 9:31 AM

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