The history of alcoholic drinks under the general name Aquavit dates back to the invention of the Kiemel (caraway vodka) in the middle of the 19th century in Norway. This unusual beverage became very popular in Scandinavia in a very short period of time, and right after that, Aquavit conquered the whole world. Almost two centuries later there are 20 types of Aquavit being produced. In 2002 Aquavit was recognized as the best drink of its niche at the most prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC).
Aquavit is a strong (38-50 degrees) spicy Scandinavian vodka with a yellowish shade (it can vary from crystal clear to light brown). It is produced from grains and potatoes and additionally infused with fennel, caraway, ginger, anise, and other spices and herbs. Its name comes from the Latin “Aqua vitae,” which means “water of life.”
The ancient recipe for Aquavit is kept in closely guarded secret by its producers. But there is one known rule that has to be followed for vodka to be called Aquavit. After cooking, distilling, and oak barrel infusion, the drink has to roam the sea. This is not a myth or its creator’s whim, as shaking on the waves lets vodka infuse with the herbs and take in the woody notes of the oak much faster. Thanks to this Aquavit obtains all of its characteristic features and starts resembling world’s finest Cognacs.
The characteristic color of Norwegian Aquavit
Types of Aquavit. There are 2 most popular types of Scandinavian vodka: Danish and Norwegian. Denmark is predominantly known for its clear alcoholic drinks with a caraway flavor, which is used to produce strong bitter tinctures with fruits and spices.
The amber-shaded “sea” Aquavit is made in Norway. Sweden is the third worldwide producer of Scandinavian vodka. They modified the Danish recipe by adding certain roots and herb repertories.
Health benefits. Aquavit has been regarded as a healing water of life because initially it was used as a medicine. Interestingly, this drink was designed to cure alcoholism. There was a time when Danish seniors received 400 ml of Aquavit per week medicinally. But this practice had to be stopped when young generation started buying it from seniors for parties.
It’s thought that Scandinavian vodka promotes digestions, especially if there are a lot of fatty foods on the table. It has a very favorable effect on the organism in case of intestinal disorders, cold-related diseases and loss of appetite, and even fortifies the immune system.
Homemade Aquavit Recipe (Imitation)
Each producer has its own signature drink recipe. This homemade Aquavit resembles its traditional Norwegian counterpart as close as possible, but potato vodka replaced with common vodka.
- Vodka (40-45% alcohol) – 0.7 liters
- Dried orange peel from 1 fruit
- Dried lemon peel from 1 fruit
- Cinnamon – 1 stick
- Cardamom – 2 pods
- Anise, fennel, caraway seeds – 2 teaspoons each
- Sugar – 1 tablespoon
- Crush the cinnamon and cardamom.
- Mix all spices and peels in a dry frying pan and fry over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, constantly stirring. Once you start noticing a strong spice smell take the pan off the stove. The important thing here is not to over fry them.
- Pour out the contents of the frying pan into a jar, then pour them over with vodka, and add sugar. Mix and seal with a lid.
- Leave the jar for 12-14 days in a dark place at room temperature. Shake the mixture 2-3 times a day.
- Strain the homemade Aquavit through cheesecloth.
- Bottle the drink for storing and seal.
Homemade Aquavit’s shelf-life is up to 5 years, and it has 38-39% ABV.
How to Drink Aquavit
Scandinavians are as fond of Aquavit, as Russians are fond of vodka. But they treat it completely different. Aquavit is drunk in small amounts out of special glasses and not straight out of bottles. Usually, it’s enjoyed on Independence Day and Christmas. Smoked oily fish or canapés with herring are the best chasers. Just put some butter, green onions, and oily fish on a slice of bread, and you got yourself a perfect Aquavit chaser.
Сanapé with herring — favorite Scandinavian chaser
The best chasers for Norwegian vodka are mixed cheese, seafood salad, hotplate or fish dished. If you want to throw a unique party, serve Aquavit just like they do in its homeland—freeze it to -18°C.
Scandinavian vodka can be drunk in various ways. It can be served very cold or slightly warm. Some enjoy it in small sips, and some traditionally gulp a full shot glass. Sometimes it’s chased with a beer or drunk as part of cocktails with tonic and fruit or berry syrup. Ladies enjoy strawberry infused vodka, and men—garlic and onion or lemon peel infused drinks. Other original flavors include black currant, horseradish, pepper, and dill.
Special Aquavit glass
If you like hard liquors and you’re tired of gin, whiskey or cognac. Different types of Aquavit will definitely enliven your liquor cabinet and become a great present for connoisseurs of rare alcoholic drinks and new exotic flavors.