When you’re looking for a celebratory drink, aquavit might not be the first alcoholic beverage that comes to mind. However, aquavit liquor has a long and illustrious history as the first choice for many holidays and special occasions, especially in Norway and other Scandinavian countries.
Aquavit, sometimes called akvavit or akevitt, has been in mixologists’ repertoire since the mid-16th century at least. Some letters from that time period praise the health benefits of "Aqua Vite." In reality, the name comes from the Latin words "aqua" and "vitae," meaning "water of life" (not "aqua" and "vite," which means "water of the vine"). During the early years of its existence, most people used aquavit for its medicinal properties. Ironically, some even claimed that it was a cure for alcoholism!
Today, many drinkers of aquavit still believe that it helps the imbiber digest rich food. This might be the reason that its use is common in Scandinavian countries on important holidays, like Christmas or Norwegian Constitution Day (May 17, Norway’s celebration of its official foundation as an independent nation). These meals typically feature very fatty meats, like pork ribs and stickmeat (lamb’s ribs).
Scandinavian eating traditions tend to be that their fish dishes are enjoyed first, herring being the first and most important dish. Next served are the other cold fish, eel and mainly salmon. Following this they have cold cuts of different meats together with meatballs. Warm dishes come after, such as liver pate, sirloin steak, fried plaice etc. It is all topped off with different types of cheese. The best part about this order of service is, due to the range of different styles, aquavit can be enjoyed with every dish.
Here are some great food accompaniment suggestions so that you can enjoy our aquavits in true Scandinavian style! Whether it is a mild, powerful or complex version of the liquor, you are sure to find the perfect match in the following suggestions.
Aalborg Jubilæums is spiced with dill and coriander, and rounded with oak, resulting in a mild and smooth experience. Skane is also a mild, well-balanced aquavit, flavoured with caraway and hints of fennel and aniseed.
Therefore, these go with milder dishes; for example, plaice instead of herring.
Aalborg Taffel has a very distinctive, strong taste of caraway which can easily overpower the taste of the food. O.P. Anderson also has a strong taste of caraway, along with aniseed and fennel.
Food matched with these powerful aquavits should therefore be very strong in taste.
Aalborg Nordguld is spiced with the classic aquavit spices, caraway, dill and fennel. It also has the unique ingredient, amber, to give it a touch of citrus and pine. It is matured in sherry casks to give it a smoky, sweet roundedness. Linie, with its unique maturing process, spends 18 months ageing in old Sherry casks aboard rocking ships in tropical temperatures. The residual matter from sherry provides a pleasant sweetness, and the white American or Spanish oak adds tones of wood and vanilla. The combination of caraway/aniseed is prominent in the aroma and the old sherry notes give a rich, rounded flavour, with aniseed, caraway and oak giving complexity.
The complexity of these aquavits mean that they go well with strong, smoked dishes, but it also doesn’t overpower milder dishes. Nordguld is truly a luxury aquavit of Denmark, and Linie an extraordinary aquavit of Norway!