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2 cups water

1 cinnamon stick , smashed

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon dried orange zest

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cardamom pods

2 bottles (750-milliliter) red wine

4 tablespoons superfine sugar

2½ cups aquavit or vodka (optional)

1 ¼ cups raisins

11/3 cups blanched almonds, chopped

Put the water in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick, cloves, dried orange zest and cardamom pods and bring slowly to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let stand for another 15 minutes. Strain through a strainer. Discard the spices and save the liquid. In a saucepan, combine the spiced liquid, red wine and sugar and bring slowly to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the aquavit or vodka (if using), raisins and almonds and simmer gently for 5 minutes, but do not let it boil. If you prefer a sweeter drink, add more sugar. Serve in tall glasses with spoons so that you can catch the raisins and almonds. Serves 8

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