Legend has it that a Spanish alchemist believed he’d created a healing liquid – in the 14th Century, it was easy to believe such things. Folks believed this potion helped stave off age and disease, in other words, it gave spirit to people. This rugged and unrefined distillate has since been manipulated by people for the last roughly seven hundred years, resulting in a wide variety of spirits.
What is Aquavit?
Aquavit, like several other spirits out there, literally translates to “Water of Life.” It is a spirit typically distilled in Scandinavia, where it has been produced for nearly five centuries. Aquavit, a neutral spirit distilled from grain and flavored with botanicals, is not so different from gin. Whereas gin is flavored with juniper berries, the star in aquavit is caraway. Complementing caraway, distillers use a myriad of botanicals and spices such as dill, fennel, coriander, and citrus.
Like many other spirits, aquavits vary in their ages. While most aquavit sold in the United States is sold unaged, there are a few out there that age in barrels for upwards of 20 years. Think about an aged gin, the rounder and softer qualities that the oak imparts – a similar development happens with aquavit. After all, gin and aquavit are very similar spirits.
The traditional way to enjoy aquavit is socially with food and friends, poured into shot glasses and taken in one swig with a toast of “skoal!” These days, we see increased uses of the spirit. It makes a lovely alternative to gin or vodka in many cocktails. Especially a classic Martini. ~ Georgann, Assistant Manager
Aquavit Cocktail Recipes
1 part Aquavit (I recommend Tattersall Distilling)
1 part Campari
1 part Lillet (The Lillet lends a softer orange presence and lightens up the bitter Campari.)
Stir with a ton of ice, and strain into a martini glass (I use a rocks glass, but still served up). Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
2 oz. Aquavit (I like James River Ostervit for this one…)
1 oz. Crème de Pamplemousse
Pour over ice, and top with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig
2 oz. Aquavit
4 oz. Grapefruit juice
Pour over ice, and splash with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig
Cranberry Aquavit Tonic
2 oz. Aquavit (Again, going with Tattersall)
1 oz. Cranberry juice (or ½ oz. Clear Creek Cranberry Liqueur!)
Pour over ice, and top with tonic water. Garnish with lemon wedge