Greta Garbo

The Greta Garbo celebrates Sweden, and features Flaggspunsch, lemon juice, and gin in a martini glass.

First Pandemic Happy Hour

One of Elizabeth’s closest friends of many years was coming over for happy hour. At this point in the pandemic, we were no longer under strict lockdown, but still carefully following all guidelines. After Elizabeth’s family birthday lunch went so well, we decided to expand to an outdoor, socially distanced happy hour.

I asked Elizabeth to let me make the cocktails. We had a bottle of Flaggpunsch that I was just dying to get my hands on. I wanted to honor Elizabeth and Anne’s many adventures in Sweden, together and separately, over the years. Anne was one of the very first people to meet me when Elizabeth and I started dating. And I knew that this cocktail had better be good!


Elizabeth can speak more knowledgeably and passionately about this, but from what I understand, Flaggpunsch has a special place in the pantheon of Swedish culture. I believe it’s a cornerstone of their midsommer festival, and I may (or I may not!) have heard stories about drinking it into the wee hours on a few occasions.

I had never even heard of the drink, so I needed to rely on some serious research. A cocktail called the Greta Garbo came to light right away, and since she is a consummate Swedish celebrity, I thought this would be a can’t-miss.

As it turns out, when I tried to verify my earlier research in order to write this post, the website I had previously looked at had taken down that page. The earlier page showed the Greta Garbo as being made with Flaggpunsch. That page is no longer live, but they’ve reconstituted the recipe to feature…rum, of all things. Several other websites now also feature “Greta Garbo” cocktails with rum. And one even suggests tequila (quelle horreur!). I don’t know much, but I do know that Greta Garbo doesn’t make me think of rum or tequila.

So by default, this may be the last bastion on the web that tells it like it is, and declares unreservedly that the Greta Garbo is made with Flaggpunsch, dammit.

Results: Pure Elegance

The drink itself was very summery, perfect for sipping outside in a leafy corner of the yard. I would have felt unsurprised to see a Scandinavian wood nymph, with a crown of twigs, emerge from behind a white birch tree to observe the three of us.

The Flaggpunsch is a little bit sweet, well on the sweeter side anyway. Americans might not consider it to be so very sweet after all. There’s a hint of licorice, maybe, but not very much.

In equal parts with the gin and lemon juice, it makes a cocktail that’s classy and light. It was just right on this summer evening, and opened the way for Elizabeth and Anne to reminisce a little bit about Sweden.

Perfect Happy Hour.


  • 1 oz. Flaggpunsch

  • 1 oz. Gin

  • 1 oz. Lemon Juice

  • Garnish – lemon or lime


  • Combine equal parts of alcohols and juice in a shaker with ice; shake until satisfied.
  • Pour into martini glass and enjoy!
  • The original recipe I consulted (which has since gone dark) suggested no garnish…but you know me, so I added a lime!
åtnjöt den 14 augusti


  1. Elizabeth11/21/2020 | Reply

    It was a brilliant drink and perfect for the moment. Here’s to Greta!

    • admin11/21/2020 | Reply

      It really was! To Greta!

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