Sometimes the best cocktail recipes come from the people who make the ingredients. The Viking Funeral is a recipe created by the people at RAFT, and is a wonderful use of Aquavit paired with their Smoked Tea Vanilla Syrup. It’s licorice-ey, smokey, a little sweet, and just bitter enough. Let’s take a closer look.
Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit with pronounced licorice and caraway flavors. In its native lands, aquavit is a social spirit, often consumed at festivals, weddings, and other joyous gatherings, but it’s not new. There are known references to aquavit from as early as the 1500s in Denmark and Norway, many regarding the spirit itself, and its reported medicinal qualities. Aquavit has a long standing reputation as a digestif, a spirit consumed after a meal to ease digestion. This stands to reason, as foods like fennel, and other items with that licorice flavor have long standing uses as after dinner precautions.
Today, aquavit is still as popular as ever in Scandinavia, but has gained popularity worldwide. Already known and consumed in parts of the United States where there are Scandinavian communities, aquavit has found popularity in bars across the nation, and craft distillers have created their own offerings. In Portland, House Spirits makes Krogstad Aquavit, one of the more well known craft brands, and one can see why. The licorice and caraway are both there, and it has the smooth finish of a wonderfully made product.
So what, exactly, goes into aquavit? There is no standard recipe, but, like gin, which differs by brand yet always contains juniper, aquavit starts with caraway. There are a variety of sources for the licorice, such as fennel, or star anise, etc. and cardamom, dill, peppercorns, and other spices are often used to add depth or distinction. Notice there is nothing really all that exotic or unusual in the bill of ingredients, and you may be wondering if you can make it at home. Well, yes you can, and quite easily at that.
We have no preferred recipe for aquavit, and, for the adventurous, there are many recipes available. Try some and see if you like the result. Depending on how you do it, it can take anywhere from a few days to a week or 2. Not that long, and its something you can experiment with if you want a particular profile in your glass. For us, we’re happy with Krogstad and pair it with RAFT syrup for a cold refreshing cocktail.
This certainly raises the question of syrup. What does Smoked Tea Vanilla Syrup taste like? Fine English tobacco. Pipe smokers know what we mean, but if you don’t smoke, imagine a strong cup of lapsang souchong tea with sugar and vanilla. It’s not subtle, and a little goes a long way. It doesn’t, however, overpower the aquavit. Krogstad is sharply flavored, and takes quite well to the smokey tea flavor. The vanilla adds a refreshing finish, with just a hint of depth from RAFT Orange Bitters. Next time you’re looking for something unique for that special occassion, you can batch it for a real crowd pleaser. And, if you’re up for it, you can even try making your own aquavit for that extra special touch.
Stir ingredients with ice, and serve on the rocks. Garnish with an orange twist.