Aquavit is not known for playing well with others. The Scandinavian liquor is flavored with caraway, anise, and fennel, among other herbs, and tastes a tad medicinal by itself. So Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common had his work cut out for him when he was asked to create a drink using the spirit, but as always, he rose to the challenge.
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My liquor cabinet is starting to resemble a liquid United Nations, with almost every region and culture accounted for. Until recently, however, Scandinavia was sorely missing from the General Assembly. Then a bartender in L.A. served me a spritzer that had a savory rye-bread kind of flavor to it that I couldn't quite place. I figured she had gotten creative with a syrup. But when I asked how she got that flavor, she whipped out a bottle of aquavit. I quickly got to work experimenting with making my own.
Winter has arrived, and Christmas is nipping at its nose. This week, I'm going to take a brief look at a few wintery drinking rituals that I hope will help to warm you and yours this holiday season.
I am standing in House Spirits Distillery, and Executive Distiller Matt Mounts is waxing poetic and dropping science about the nuances between Turkish raki, Middle Eastern arak and Greek ouzo.
Derived from the Latin aqua vitae, or water of life, aquavit has been made throughout northern Europe for centuries. Typically made from grain or potato spirits, aquavit may be flavored with a number of different botanicals, giving the spirit a savory, herbaceous character. Caraway is one defining example, though aquavit may also include dill, fennel, clove, cardamom and other herbs and spices.