Today I am using one of my go-to spirits these days in a summer ready recipe: the Strawberry Watermelon Aquavit Cooler. Acqa-what?! Aquavit comes from aqua vitae, or water of life in Latin. I’d say, I just about drink this stuff like water! So…what is Aquavit?
Aquavit is the national spirit of Scandinavia where it originated. Although, it is becoming increasingly more popular in other regions and in the US. It is a spirit distilled from potato or grain along with botanicals with caraway as it’s defining flavor. Much like it’s botanical cousin gin who needs to have juniper to be considered a gin, Aquavit must contain caraway, at least in the US. But don’t confuse Aquavit for gin, that would just be Aqu-ward (ha!) Dill is also used as a prominent flavor with a supporting cast of fennel, coriander, citrus peel and anise. The recipe will change, however, in each region based on local ingredients and preferences fitting to pair with the cuisine. From this description alone, you can tell it’s savory. Because of this, it’s a great bedfellow to rich, oily, pickled or heavy spiced foods.
Rather than lean into it’s savory qualities, I contrasted the Aquavit with sweet watermelon and strawberry in the Strawberry Watermelon Aquvait Cooler. I added in lime juice adds acidity and tartness to the drink. The strawberries at the farmers market are exploding with flavor and super sweet right now. If you find the strawberries are really sweet, you may not need to add any simple to your cocktail and can omit it (test the drink out before adding it!)
The Aquavit I used for this drink is Krogstad, a domestic Aquavit produced in Portland. I chose it for it’s abundant anise to really drive home the flavor paired with the citrus and strawberry. I used the unaged expression the Festlig. Their aquavit is a mouth full of caraway and star anise flavors which can stand up to a lot of ingredients, including ginger. Ginger liqueurs vary in strength and flavor, so play around with which one works best for you. I used the King’s Ginger which is higher proof with a strong ginger flavor. If you are using a different aquavit, you may want to swap it out for a more subtle ginger liqueur that won’t mask or compete with the spices in the Aquavit.
Strawberry & Watermelon Aquavit Cooler
tools: muddler, shaker, tea strainer
glass: steamed glass or collins glass
- 2 oz watermelon juice
- 1 3/4 oz Aquavit, I used Krogstead Festlig
- 3/4 oz ginger liqueur
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup (optional if you want a sweeter drink/strawberries are not too sweet)
- 2 strawberries, muddled
- garnish: sliced strawberries and mint
Muddle strawberries in a shaker. Add all the liquid ingredients. Shake with ice. Strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with strawberry. Smack mint to release oils and garnish the glass.