Let’s talk about aquavit / akvavit! Every new year, I make a resolution to drink or learn more about a particular spirit, and this year aquavit is high on my list.
If you follow along with me on Instagram, you know I enjoy the Scandinavian liquor from time to time, but this year I want to try it in new ways and help encourage other cocktail lovers to give it a try too!
The following three aquavit cocktail recipes are a great place to start if you’re new to the spirit, even if you’re new to craft cocktails altogether. I’ve arranged the recipes from beginner (easiest-drinking) to advanced (boldest and bitterest) so you’ll know what to expect. Now let’s learn more about this wonderful Nordic liquor!
What is aquavit/akvavit?
Aquavit is a clear distilled spirit made primarily in Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. It is distilled from grains or potatoes and flavored with a blend of botanicals. This botanical blend is what lends aquavit its characteristic flavor, which is predominantly either caraway or dill seed. Other common botanicals include citrus, coriander, fennel, and star anise.
Aquavit is herbaceous and a bit savory, making it an excellent liquor to use in cocktails like martinis or Bloody Marys. But its uses don’t stop there! I particularly enjoy aquavit with bright citrus flavors like grapefruit or lime. A very quick, easy, and enjoyable way to try aquavit is in a Greyhound cocktail. Simply combine 2 ounces of aquavit with 4 ounces grapefruit juice and enjoy. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary if you’re feeling fancy.
If you enjoy the flavor of aquavit or have yet to try it, pick up a bottle and give one of these recipes a try!
What bottle of aquavit/akvavit should I start with?
Start with whatever looks good! My current fave is Ahus Akvavit from Sweden, which was kindly gifted to me last year. It has a wonderful, well-rounded herbal flavor that plays nicely with a variety of other flavors in cocktails without being over-powering. Ahus is made with a blend of botanicals that include caraway, citrus, and rosemary. The rosemary in particular is noticeable on the nose, making it a fun bottle to try as an alternative to gin in many classic drinks.
I also really enjoy the Norwegian sherry cask-aged Linie Aquavit, which is usually easy to find (even in notoriously limited control states like New Hampshire). Linie is a smooth and well-balanced bottle, making it a a great introduction to aquavit.
Other bottles I can recommend are Aalborg Danish Akvavit, which has a strong caraway flavor, and Wintersun Organic Aquavit (made in the US). Wintersun is fairly mild with bright orange citrus flavors. Krogstad American Akvavit is a bottle that has been recommended to me time and again, but I’ve yet to find it in store! Let me know if you get a chance to try it.
This cocktail is as easy-going as it gets, with aquavit, cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime, topped with tonic water. Garnish with lime and mint for a very refreshing afternoon cocktail, no matter the season. Get the recipe here.
Aquavit, Aperol, and lime juice form a cocktail trifecta in this crisp and refreshing aquavit sour. This is an incredibly simple but tasty way to get to know a new bottle of aquavit. I enjoy it best with Ahus Akvavit. Get the recipe here.
I have yet to meet a Negroni riff I didn’t like, and this herbaceous one is no exception. In this Aquavit Negroni, I like to pair aquavit with Lillet Blanc, rather than sweet vermouth, but feel free to try sweet vermouth if that’s what you have on hand! It’s also quite nice but a bit drier using a dry vermouth like Noilly Prat. You could opt for a simple expressed orange twist here, but I find that a juicy slice of pink grapefruit adds a whole new dimension of flavor. Get the recipe here.
Want even more aquavit cocktails?
Try some of these other popular recipes!
- Midnight Sunshine – a Frozen Aquavit Cocktail with Peaches and Thyme
- Elderflower & Grapefruit Aquavit Sour
- Garden Fairy (with aquavit, absinthe, cucumber)