In 1994, the owner of Simon’s Tavern crafted his first batch of glogg; since then, the mulled wine has become a warm Andersonville tradition during the holiday season.
Up until this year, the Andersonville dive bar was packed every December, a warm place for customers to gather, safe from the ice and wind. Unfortunately, now government officials warn that such public gathering places are a risk to public health.
Simon’s Tavern has been forced to adjust to what has sadly become the new normal. That includes finally being able to take advantage of legally selling to-go cocktails. Now customers can bring home Simon’s famous glogg and ginger cookies for some holiday cheer.
The Secret Glogg Recipe
Scott Martins, Simon’s owner, keeps his glogg recipe a secret; “Every good Swede never tells their glogg secret,” he confides.
Martin is willing to reveal his glogg recipe includes fresh oranges, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, yellow raisins and roasted almonds. He begins crafting his holiday mulled wine in September, and customers cheerfully sip up 1,500 gallons each year.
Hard Times for Simon’s Tavern
Martin, also owns Svea, a nearby restaurant which serves a Scandanavian style breakfast and brunch. But due to the coronavirus restrictions, Martin only has two employees left for Simon’s Tavern. Simon’s has a small patio, but as Martin points out, “when it’s below freezing, no one is sitting outside drinking.”
The state did allow Simon’s to serve customers indoors, but that ended abruptly due to the state’s indoor dining ban on October 30. Martin has maintained a restaurant license for Simon’s, which allowed the bar to continue indoor service for a time. Until the most recent coronavirus restrictions, restaurants were able to serve customers indoors with a 20% maximum capacity. Until the latest indoor dining ban, the bar served frozen pizzas warmed in a toaster oven. But now, the survival of Simon’s seems to depend on to-go glogg sales.
Partake in the Glogg Tradition
Before taking your first sip of glogg, the reveler must hold a ginger cookie in hand, make a wish, and then gently tap the cookie with the index finger; if the cookie cracks into three pieces, the wish will come true. To help make everyone’s holiday wishes come true, Simon’s sells boxes of Anna’s ginger cookies to go with their take home bottles of glogg.
The glogg from Simon’s comes with plenty of local lore. For example, ther was the time Martin was sitting at the bar one Sunday morning20 years ago, when ATF agents raided his glogg-making set up, possibly swtted by a rival glogg maker down the street.
To-Go Cocktails a Wish Come True
Martin is thankful for legal to-go cocktails; it may just fulfill his wish to keep Simon’s alive. However, he is a little worried that the government will “come down like Thor’s hammer” if the city’s bar owners don’t follow every coronavirus edict and newly-minted regulation to the letter. Martin is doing the best he can to follow all of the directives.
To remind his customers of the old normal, Simon’s has been decorated with plenty of Christmas cheer, despite the fact that customers are not allowed inside to enjoy it. But Martin says he’s decorated the bar for his 27-year-old son, who will soon be home from military deployment in the Middle East.
Simon’s Tavern Turns 90
Simon’s Tavern turned 90 years old during this unprecedented year. Obviously, Martin isn’t the original owner, but he kept the name of the original owner, Simon Lundberg. One of Simon’s sons, Wayne Lundberg, is Martin’s landlord. While December is usually Simon’s busiest month, Lundberg has generously given Martin the holiday gift of free rent for January and February, due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
While 2020 has been challenging, Martin is confident that Simon’s will survive, and glogg will play an essential role in its survival.
“Glogg is probably the longest commitment I’ve had in my life,” Martin said concerning his love affair with glogg. “And it’s the one thing right now that’s keeping the bar alive.”
Simon’s Glogg is available in a 32-ounce bottle for $25, 64-ounce for $50, and 99-ounce for $75. And it’s cash only at Simon’s. Help make Martin’s wish come true for the New Year.