Do you want to try a different kind of tipple? Rhinecliff’s own Hetta, released in November, offers a versatile new/old beverage with a modern spin on it. Either warmed, while the chill yet lingers in the air, or on ice in a creative cocktail, would be good times to sample this intriguing libation: the first such bottled glögg in the US.
Although it’s pronounced “gloog,” it’s okay to call it glogg or grog, says creator Darren Davidowich, since that brings to mind for most people a warm mulled wine to soothe the soul and evoke festivity. Although traditional for holiday time, Hetta glögg works well any time of year.
You may have noticed the distinctive apothecary-type clear bottles in the local section of your Mulberry MAX liquor store, full of a mysterious murky blood-red liquid, and wondered what it was. Hetta glögg is certified as a New York farm product because it is made from 75 percent or more New York grapes, but it’s entirely different from all other locally made wines, beers or distilled spirits.
Davidowich, a real estate developer, was inspired by an old Norwegian family recipe of his sister-in-law’s, although the name is Swedish: hetta meaning heat. “It’s an American twist on a Nordic glögg,” Davidowich says.
In a vintage Rhinecliff storefront in a brick building, he starts with a port wine from the Finger Lakes region – aptly, from Swedish Hill Winery – and adds cinnamon, orange peel, cardamom and raisins. Although the word “mulling” comes from when it traveled on boats in casks that rocked to and fro, Hetta is merely stirred now and then as it steeps for ten days, according to Davidowich.
Then a brandy from Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon goes in, to bring the concoction up to a hearty 21.9 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). “We’re searching for a source of New York brandy,” he adds. At this point Hetta is ready for bottling, which also happens in the Rhinecliff rendering place – “‘rendering,’” he says, “because we don’t crush our own grapes for it.”
Although glögg is traditionally served warmed to 170 to 180 degrees, chillier and refreshing variations are in store for warmer weather. Davidowich recommends muddling peppermint, like you might muddle spearmint for a mojito, and serving the Hetta over that – and some ice, of course.
The skilled and well known mixologist Paul Maloney of Stockade Tavern on Fair Street in Uptown Kingston is working on developing cocktails with Hetta glögg. Davidowich will also offer liquor-store tastings featuring local ice cream with Hetta drizzle.
The tradition of warm spiced wine is a universal one, but as an ancient Nordic beverage, glögg goes back to the early 17th century, when it got its start as mediocre wine jazzed up with assertive spices, then heated to warm bodies chilled in the frosty North. Over the centuries, the recipe was refined, and it became a traditional beverage for late afternoon or early evening holiday parties and gatherings. Thin, crisp ginger cookies called pepparkakor are the traditional accompaniment. Some also credit glögg with easing the discomfort of winter illnesses.
The symbol of Hetta is the Dala horse, a small painted wooden toy carved by Swedish woodcutters. It has become an iconic symbol of hospitality, friendship and good will, so appropriate to be the frontman (or horse) for Hetta.
Hetta is available at dozens of liquor stores around the area, and the number is growing. See www.hettaglogg.com for a full list, or stop by (to name just a few) the Merchant or Blue 57 in Kingston, Partition Street Wine Shop in Saugerties, Woodstock Wine and Liquors, Sipperley’s Grog Shoppe in Red Hook and RR Corks or Old Mill Wine and Spirits in Rhinebeck, among others. Agnes Devereux serves it at her Village TeaRoom Restaurant & Bakeshop in New Paltz as well.