Learn how to make Swedish aquavit, also known as akvavit, with a simple recipe that infuses vodka with caraway, anise, and citrus.
Aquavit (also known as Akvavit) is an essential part of any holiday celebration from Christmas to Mid-sommars. It is usually sipped along with beer during a meal. In our family, we enjoy it with herring and potatoes.
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Aquavit is enjoyed in all Nordic cultures and each has it’s own interpretation of it’s flavors. It’s distilled from potatoes or mashed grain, similar to vodka or gin, and it’s flavor is of caraway, anise and citrus.
HOW TO MAKE AQUAVIT (VIDEO)
Akvavit can be difficult to come by in the United States, although it’s gaining in popularity as alternative to gin. The brand that is most common in liquor stores in our area is “Alborgs” which is from Denmark. It is clear, un-aged and has a caraway-forward flavor.
The most well-known Norwegian brand is “Linie”, whose cask-aged akvavit is loaded on to ships and crosses the Equator twice in a four month trip (hence the name “Linie, which means, Line). It has a more full-bodied flavor and caramel color.
Swedish akvavit is a balance between these two styles, with a golden color and flavor that’s balanced between caraway, anise and citrus. The most well-known brand is “O.P. Andersson”.
RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE AQUAVIT
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
750 ml bottle of unflavored vodka
1 star anise
1 strip orange zest (1 inch wide x 2 inch long)
Place a skillet on medium heat. Add coriander, caraway and star anise. Toast the seeds until they turn brown and start to smell good.
Pour vodka into a resealable bottle using a funnel. Pour toasted seeds into the bottle. Stick orange rind in there too. Put the cap on and store in a cool dark place for two weeks.
After two weeks or so strain the aquavit through a cheesecloth. I used a strainer and a paper towel and it worked fine.
Return aquavit to the bottle. Best served cold with a beer chaser. Skol!
In most cases, akvavit will often be accompanied by a toast and song such as Helan Går. That said, more than 200 akvavit-related drinking songs have been recorded by Sweden’s Spirit Museum.
Finally, everybody involved (no matter the size of the gathering) has to make eye-contact before drinking. Don’t forget to say “Skal” beforehand!