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The Old Man cocktail
Photograph: Courtesy The Old Man

Christmas cocktail recipe: The Glögg by The Old Man's Lucas Fialin

The Old Man's head bartender shares his own twist to this classic winter drink

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Written by
Tatum Ancheta
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Hot drinks are easily one of the best things about the arrival of winter, and a spiked hot drink goes down quickly during cold holidays. Lucas Fialin, head bartender at award-winning The Old Man, shares his twist to the classic Nordic winter drink, Glögg. Glögg is a spiced mulled wine or spirit usually made of fortified wine, jazzed up with citrus, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and other spices. Lucas' rendition is inspired by his non-existent relationship with Santa Claus from his childhood, and his recipe may be prepared with or without alcohol so kids or teetotalers can enjoy a cup.   

"As a child, I have sent many letters to Santa Claus," shares Lucas. "I would tell him how nice I have been during the year. That I behaved as a good and cooperative kid and therefore, I deserve, I claim the right to have nice gifts," he enthuses. "Unfortunately, after countless letters sent to his address and many expensive phone calls to his direct line throughout many years, I gave up! This fat bastard never answered me," he jokes. 

When he was around 10 years old, together with his family, they visited Lapland; the region is said to be the home of Santa Claus. "In Lapland, the weather is around -15 degrees Celsius in the wintertime. They even have 'seasonal' hotels built and sculpted out of ice! You get it. It's quite cold," he shares. "During our visit, we drank a lot of warm lingonberry juice to keep me warm while the parents would drink Glögg. A kind of mulled wine based on berry juice instead of wine," he explains. "I travelled a good part of Lapland for over a month, but I found no trace of the legendary bearded guy. Yet, even though I never found Father Christmas, I grew up realising he's a good guy. I know it because I've been lucky enough to find gifts every year under the family tree," he enthuses. "Now I made peace with him and ever since when I drink mulled wine, it reminds me of the cold wind and the frostbite of the lowlands."

"This recipe is made non-alcoholic. It doesn't need alcohol to bring taste, depth, and body. What's good about this drink is that it pretty much works with all kinds of spirits – neutral, white, matured, no distinction. Any liquor already existing on your dusty shelf for years can finally be used, well, preferable not all together though," says Lucas. He says this drink is great enjoyed with a group of people – preferable the one you like – so gather your loved ones and make this recipe at home for the holiday season.

MAKE IT YOURSELF
The Old Man's Mandeep Guale, Lucas Fialin, Nikita Matveev, and John Aexel III • Courtesy The Old Man Hong Kong

MAKE IT YOURSELF

Ingredients:
Makes two servings

1L Berry Juice (traditionally lingonberry, but you can use blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberry, pomegranate, or a mix of everything)
0.2L Apple juice (red variety apple)
5 cinnamon sticks
1 whole squeezed orange plus the skin and pulp
The skin of 1/2 Grapefruit
10 cloves
15g crushed juniper berries and pink peppercorn
3 pinches cardamom powder
50g almonds
100g dry raisins
10 pieces star anise
50g maple or honey
Optional: 0.2L of liquor (white or dark spirits)

How to make the drink:
1) Put everything in a pan and slow cook at around 30-degree Celsius for 30 minutes. Stir and try the mixture once in a while to make sure it is at your preferred taste.
2) To spike the drink, you can add the liquor. Use 0.2L of liquor for every 1L of Glögg and taste based on your preference. (You can skip this step if you want to keep it non-alcoholic.)
3) After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and strain the mixture in a container. (You can use the strained mash later on as a sweetener for plain yoghurt or any dessert.)
4) Garnish with faith, love, and hope. ("Don't ask me where you can get some of those, as I have no clue," jokes Lucas.)
3) Gather a bunch of good friends and family, put on a good playlist, and enjoy the drink while it is still hot. Cheers!

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