While many people will adopt the concept of hygiene – the cosy Danish comfort – in their homes during the holiday season, the Swedish gap may be a bit wider at the moment. It can also be the key to making a better drink.

Although there is no exact translation of lagom (pronounced log-om), it is generally interpreted as not too little, not too much – a state of mind in which everything you have is a perfect amount.

It’s about being happy with what you have and not wanting it to be something else, says Selma Slabyak, owner of Selma Bar in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, New York, and author of Spirit of the North, a book about northern drinking traditions. Although Mrs Slabyak does not come from Sweden, but from Denmark, she understands the Lag phenomenon well, especially when it comes to the preparation of drinks.




You may not have a big liquor store, but it’s behind you. You’ve got everything you need, she says. Alcohol can also be a lagoon. When I was a young bartender, I thought you always had to add new things to make your cocktail stand out and be special, Mrs Slabiak remembers. But Negroni is the camp. It has three ingredients. It’s perfect.

In his book of 2017, Living Lagom: Balanced life, the Swedish way, author and Swedish-American.

Anna Browns.

describes the popular etymology of the word. It is a romanticized version of Lagomian roots, a Viking story passed on around a fellow horn, writes Browns. Lowering around, or around the crew, meant that the mead had to get to everyone’s lips, so each Viking had to take a reasonable sip so that there was enough for everyone.

Lagom is also about environmental sustainability – getting what’s needed from the land, not minimizing waste, and taking food in season. And it’s about being moderate and attentive in everyday life, Browns writes, taking what you need, but leaving enough behind to make others happy.


What recipes have kept you warm at home this holiday season? Take part in the discussion below.

Is it possible to find such a balance in today’s ubiquitous home of pandemic life? Yes, Miss Slabiak insisted, if you say so. You’re in a situation and you say: We can’t do better. It’s perfect, she says.

If it sounds like a big job, Sling Svalbard will certainly help Miss Slabyak. The ultimate lagom is an easy drinking highball with just an ounce of aquavit (gin or vodka also works), flavored with a citrus heart that has no biscuits and uses all the fruits, including the peel. It is not too strong, not too weak, equal parts sweet and sour. That’s enough.

To discover and find all our recipes, visit our new WSJ recipes page.


  • ½ cup of fresh lemon juice, plus the skin of the juicy fruit (about 4 lemons).
  • ½ cup of fresh orange juice plus juice peels (about 2 medium oranges).
  • ½ cup of superfine sugar


  1. Stir in a glass or bowl the juices and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add a bowl. Container with lid. Cool at night or for up to 2 days.
  2. Deformation before use. Can be kept in the fridge for up to a week. To extend the shelf life by at least one week, you should once enrich a ½ with an excess of pure alcohol.

-Adapted to the Spirit of the North by Selma Slabyak. -Adapted to the Spirit of the North by Selma Slabyak.

I wanted to make a winter drink that was still refreshing, and I thought of the Arctic beauty of Spitsbergen, near the North Pole, said Mrs Slabyak of the archipelago of the same name. Hearty uses both the juice and peel of citrus fruits in its seasonal tips. By resting the juice with the peel the taste increases exponentially. If aquavit is not available, use gin. Or give up alcohol and take a sparkling lemonade instead.


  • 3 ounces of seltzer water
  • ¾ ounce of citrus syrup
  • 1 oz. Aquavit line
  • 1 whole star anise, for garnish


  1. In a large glass, filled with ice, pour the seltzer water, hearty, then the aquavit.
  2. Garnish with star anise.

-Adapted to the Spirit of the North by Selma Slabyak. -Adapted to the Spirit of the North by Selma Slabyak.

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