**Editor’s Note: Please welcome Ian Reilly — bartender, writer and new Cocktail Enthusiast contributor. For his first post, we threw him into the fire. With Akvavit.**
Let me start by addressing the uninitiated akvavit/aquavit drinker: this is one bizarre tipple. But you’ll like it. You may not realize it at first — the forwardness of Linie’s caraway profile may even strike you as off-putting. But as far as potato spirits go, it certainly one-ups vodka. Because Linie’s well-matured complexity and intriguing spice character are nothing short of seductive. And now, some history —
When the Moors invaded Spain in the 12th century, they brought with them the technological marvel of the pot still; and after sampling its produce (and, presumably, recovering from some killer hangovers), the Spanish spread the concept across Europe like wildfire. The French made their “water of life,” called eau de vie; the Scotch and Irish their uisge beatha; and the Russians their zhizennia voda. Likewise, the Scandinavians had their akvavit, a spirit distilled from grain or potatoes and infused with herbs like cumin, dill, grains of paradise, and caraway.
Linie Aquavit, a Norwegian variant of the spirit, is aged in the traditional Norwegian fashion. Unlike any other akvavit, however, it does this in sherry barrels on a sea voyage to Australia and back. This may sound like a classic spirit marketing gimmick, but I’m not so convinced. There is much to be said for climate, humidity, and agitation when it comes to barrel aging. Tuthilltown Distilleries of New York even goes so far as to use a complex sound system to sonically agitate it’s whiskey. So hey, I’ll take a spirit that’s earned its sea legs.
Traditionally, Norwegians take their akvavit with beer; or rather, their beer with akvavit. I’ll let the locals argue the semantics of the order of consumption. All I’ll say is that it paired nicely with my IPA (I thought it deserved a companion meant for the sea).
If you’re looking to incorporate Linie into a cocktail (and you should), start with something simple. It’s 83 proof, makes a great primary spirit, and has just enough herbal punch to make bitters, while welcome, unnecessary. For me, that translated into a good night, and more than one refreshing Tom Collins. Or should I say Sven Collins?
1 1/2 oz Linie Aquavit
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain into a Collins glass over ice. Fill with seltzer.
All in all, Linie Aquavit is solid stuff. And a great representative of the category. However, one complaint: Linie includes some caramel coloring, which seems wholly unnecessary. Linie, let that spirit shine.
– 41.5% Alcohol by Volume