A culinary reenactment of traditional Swedish meals isn't complete without at least one of the country's beloved beverages. Whether you're in the mood for a warm holiday mug of good cheer or a midsummer drink redolent of Nordic plants, you can find a beverage that helps you say "skoal!" in an authentic Swedish manner.
Go With Glogg
While many cultures serve some version of mulled wine or cider over the Christmas holiday season, Sweden ramps up the potency by adding vodka and port, a fortified wine, to the standard red wine. To these three spirits, which are poured into a stock pot in equal amounts, add flavoring agents such as orange peel, cinnamon sticks and cardamon seeds. After you gently warm it on low heat, the glogg is ready to serve in clear mugs, perhaps with some almonds and raisins floated on top.
Welcomed at both summer picnics and winter smorgasbords, aquavit is essentially a spirit that has been flavored with aromatics, such as dill and caraway seed. You can buy aquavit, but many Swedish home cooks make their own version of the amber liquid from equal parts vodka or a similar clean-tasting spirit and aromatics. The flavoring agents are left to infuse the spirit for several days in the refrigerator, and then the aquavit is strained and bottled.
Pack a Punsch
Made with a base of arrack, an Indian red rice liquor, the liqueur known as Swedish punsch became popular after arrack began to be imported to Sweden. Traditionally, warmed Swedish punsch pairs with pea soup, but the drink can also be served chilled. The flavoring agents typically added to the arrack include cardamon, cinnamon and cloves, as well as green and black teas. Specialty liquor stores in the U.S. carry bottled Swedish punsch.
Fill Up With Filmjolk
For the morning after a night of downing aquavit or glogg, the cultured milk product known as filmjolk may help. Filmjolk resembles kefir in that it is a pourable fermented milk with a distinctive sour taste. Swedes prefer to eat their muesli with either spoonable yogurt or drinkable filmjolk. Authentic filmjolk starts with a spoonful of a previous filmjolk batch and therefore may be difficult to buy or make in the U.S. A similar home version, however, can be made by adding a spoonful of vinegar or lemon juice to a glass of whole milk.
Stock a Swedish Cupboard
Whether you buy imported Swedish drinks or make your own home versions, consider expanding your Nordic horizons by adding a few other national drinks. Swedish vodka is easily accessible in the states. As in the U.S., "hard" cider is popular as either a warmed or a chilled drink in Sweden. Finally, look for brannvin, a potent brandy-like spirit infused with plants such as elderberry, wild rose and ginger.