Monday, May 27, 2013
A golden bottle of do-it-yourself akvavit, the Official Booze of Scandinavia.
The Auld Scots must have loved their spirituous liquors, for they called their distillations uisge beatha - the Water of Life - a term which survives to this very day. Whisky!
There are other lively waters, though, and one of the tastier ones is the Scandinavian tipple akvavit, which name means, appropriately enough, Water of Life. How original, think ye in snark-fashion... but akvavit has little in common with Scotch or Irish whiskies except for its alcohol content.
Your basic akvavit - Aalborg is a good example - tastes like a caraway-infused vodka, which it pretty much is. Fancier versions add other herbs and spices to the mix, but the predominant flavor will almost always be caraway or dill.
You can find one or two different brands of akvavit on the shelf in your local Booze-Shoppe, provided it is a reasonably well-stocked operation. You may even find Linie Akvavit, a brand that carries on the tradition of shipping its product back and forth between Norway and Australia, crossing the equator twice in the process. But if the well is dry (so to speak), it’s easy enough to make your own, thanks to this handy recipe from Andreas Viestad (via Epicurious and Houston Steve):
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
2 star anise pods
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 whole clove
1 one-inch cinnamon stick (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (optional)
Add the above spices to a 1-liter bottle of vodka. Let stand 2 to 3 weeks, shaking the bottle occasionally, then strain and discard the solids. Presto - you have akvavit! Chill (I keep mine in the freezer) and enjoy an ice-cold shot with gravlax, herring, or pretty damn much any appetizer you feel like eating.