Elderflower & Grapefruit Aquavit Sour

pink cocktail on a black background with a lemon twist and flower

This citrusy aquavit cocktail features pink grapefruit and elderflower for a spring-inspired sipper that’s light and floral with a subtle herbal complexity. Aquavit lends this cocktail a slight savory undertone that beautifully balances the intensity of elderflower liqueur. Try this recipe with Ahus Akvavit for its bright rosemary and orange aromas!

A light and floral aquavit cocktail

With its potent herbal flavors, aquavit seems to be most often featured (in the US, that is) in either spirit-forward wintery cocktails or vegetal drinks that draw on the liquor’s prominent caraway and/or dill seed flavor. However, I find that this Scandanavian spirit is more versatile than it might seem, and it works well in light, even fruity, spring and summer style cocktails too! 

If you’d like to try another (even easier!) aquavit cocktail, check out my very popular Nordic Summer, featured in my new book, Essential 3-Ingredient Cocktails.

What is aquavit?

Aquavit is a distilled spirit made from either grains or potatoes and flavored with a variety of botanicals, the most prominent of which must be either caraway or dill seed. Think of aquavit as kind of like a Nordic gin, but rather than featuring crisp juniper, it draws on the herb-y spice of caraway and/or dill. Caraway lends a peppery, earthy flavor, sometimes also coming through as anise-like. It’s a bit complex, robust, and savory, and is great in very simple cocktails like an Aquavit & Tonic or in place of vodka in a Moscow Mule.

Aquavit is made in Scandavian countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, where it is commonly served and sipped from small shot-sized glasses, often with food. If you’ve never had it before, pick up a bottle and try it neat. Try it straight from the freezer. Try it in an ice-cold Martini (2oz aquavit, ½ oz dry vermouth, lemon twist for garnish). Try it with ginger beer and a squeeze of lime. Just try it! Aquavit is a wonderful spirit that deserves more widespread popularity, and it fits perfectly into the ongoing craft cocktail trends showcasing fresh and interesting botanical flavor pairings.

a rosy pink cocktail on a black background with a lemon twist garnish and three small lilac blooms

Elderflower & Grapefruit Aquavit Sour ingredients:

This simple cocktail is made with:

  • 1.5 oz aquavit / akvavit (I used Ahus Akvavit, which is one of my favorites)
  • 1 oz fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
  • .5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .25 oz simple syrup

How to make this cocktail:

  • Simply gather all of your ingredients and add them to a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill the shaker about ¾ with ice, and shake until well chilled.
  • Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass (preferably chilled), and garnish with a lemon twist.
  • Add a seasonal edible flower such as a (pesticide-free) lilac bloom, if you want! Edible flowers are a lovely addition to spring cocktails. If you want to know more about edible flowers, head over to my Cocktailian’s Guide to Edible Flowers.

This recipe calls for ¼ oz (about 1 teaspoon) of simple syrup to balance the strong and sour flavors. If you haven’t made simple syrup before, it’s very, very simple! Just combine equal parts sugar and water and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. That’s it. Store any leftover syrup in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. For more about simple syrup and just about every other syrup under the sun, check out my Ultimate Guide to Cocktail Syrups.

pink cocktail top down view with shallow focus on lilac blossom garnish

Recipe substitutions

Aquavit: Although I recommend trying it with Ahus, you can make this cocktail with any aquavit you like. Some great choices are Linie, Aalborg, or Krogstad.

Elderflower liqueur: Use any elderflower liqueur brand you happen to have, just keep in mind that some brands are sweeter than others, and some have a higher alcohol content. If using a more mild elderflower liqueur, such as Fiorente, you may want to up the measure to ¾ ounce. You could also replace the liqueur with an elderflower syrup, if you have that instead.

Freshly squeezed juices: This one isn’t really negotiable. It’s ok to use bottled pink grapefruit juice in a pinch, but please don’t use bottled lemon juice. Unlike grapefruit juice, it doesn’t taste the same at all once it’s been bottled. Fresh is best and will make a big difference in your final cocktail.

Simple syrup: Like I mentioned above, simple syrup couldn’t be easier to make. Find full recipe details below. If you’re an adventurous cocktail maker, and experienced with whipping up cocktail syrups, try using a flavored simple syrup here instead of plain! I’m making a lilac syrup this week now that the blossoms have all finally emerged, and I can’t think of a better spring flavor to add to this mix. Be creative and make each drink your own. There’s nothing more enjoyable, in my opinion!

pale pink cocktail on a black background with small purple lilac flower garnish and a lemon twist

Did you make this recipe? Share it on Instagram or Pinterest and be sure to tag me @moodymixologist! I love seeing your beautiful cocktail photos and your creative recipe variations!

More aquavit to love:

3 Aquavit Cocktails You Need to Try

Garden Fairy – an absinthe, aquavit, and cucumber cocktail

pink cocktail on a black background with a lemon twist and flower

Elderflower & Grapefruit Aquavit Sour

Amy Traynor
This light spring cocktail features the Scandanavian herbal spirit aquavit alongside elderflower liqueur and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit and lemon juices.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 oz aquavit (I used Ahus Akvavit)
  • 1 oz fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
  • .5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .25 oz simple syrup

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it ¾ with ice.
  • Shake until chilled (about 12 seconds) and strain into a coupe glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist and an edible spring bloom, if desired.

Notes

Simple Syrup
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions:
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a jar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, about two minutes. For an even quicker syrup, use hot (but not boiling) water. 
  2. Store leftover syrup in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
For more on simple syrup and every other kind of syrup, check out my Ultimate Guide to Cocktail Syrups.
Keyword aquavit, elderflower, grapefruit, simple syrup, spring cocktails
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2 thoughts on “Elderflower & Grapefruit Aquavit Sour”

  • Hi, I was wondering if there is anything else I could use instead of the aquavit as I’m not sure I can get it in Australia ?

    • Hi Christine! It won’t be exactly the same, but this recipe is also great with gin or even vodka!

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