After having a very Norwegian Christmas last year, I came home to North Carolina psyched up about the possibility of cooking some of my family’s native cuisine. Well, let’s just say I have been eager to try some things, but my motivation level was a lot lower than I thought. It took all of about 4 months, but I have finally gotten it together enough to try my first Norwegian creation.
Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned growing up with a Norwegian relatives, it’s that they love to drink. Aquavit is pretty much the national drink of Norway and most of its neighboring countries. It is a hard liquor that can be found in almost any flavor in Norway but which is limited in its availability in the U.S. Before I had visited Illinois last December, my parents had tested some authentic Norwegian aquavit. Unfortunately it was so heavily seasoned with carroway that it turned out to be harsh and almost undrinkable. Luckily my parents were able to find a recipe to make aquavit out of vodka by adding spices and letting it steep for a couple of weeks and of course leaving out the carroway seeds. What resulted was a spicy licorce-y liquor that I knew I had to try to brew myself.
I finally got around to gathering the spices for the recipe, but after trips to 5 or 6 area grocery stores I finally had all the ingredients. Like my parents, I used a recipe that called for carroway seeds, but I left them out because it is such an overpowering and in my opinion unpleasant tasting spice. So, I drained my fancy bottle of Bennett’s vodka into a new bottle and added the spices spoonful after spoonful. Once the spices were added, I let the concoction steep for a couple of weeks, testing it every few days to be sure the taste was maturing.
After the two weeks were up, I used a funnel strainer to pour the finished product into a new bottle and got ready to try my newly brewed drink. It was a great complex combination, with spices that made for a somewhat sweet and bitter flavor. I think that the licorice from the star anise really overpowered this batch and if I were to do it again I might use only one star anise instead of the two. Other than that though, it made for a delicious drink on the rocks that had a taste that I would say almost resembled a much less potent Uzo.
This will definitely be one of many batches of aquavit as I will continue to experiment with different spices. Anybody who is interested in Norwegian cuisine or alcohol should give the recipe below a try as you will not be disappointed.