From Michigan with love
Robyn Cleveland from Michigan first started experimenting with aquavit 16 years ago on a trip to Copenhagen but didn’t think much of it then.
When he started bartending on a higher level 6 years later, he found himself looking for exciting uncommon ingredients. That’s how he rediscovered aquavit.
“It’s about 7 years ago when I came up with my first aquavit-based cocktails, but the reception wasn’t great. People weren’t willing to take a step into the unknown, so I only served these drinks to adventurers and their reaction was positive. But most people back then had no clue what’s going on.
About three or four years ago bars and restaurants in the bigger cities started using aquavit. And once people see it in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, they follow.” – Robyn Cleveland
Being an American bartender with a taste for aquavit can be a challenge as not much aquavit is imported to the country… What to do? Robyn took matter into his own hands and decided is distill his own exactactly to his liking!
I wanted a big carraway note, something that doesn’t kick the teeth too much. I was also looking for a big citrus note, something floral and naturally sweet, which would be good for mixing.
Norden Aquavit recently won Best Brand Launch in Michigan. It’s well deserved and having tried three of Robyn’s cocktails based on Norden Aquavit, I can vouch for its quality as a base in cocktails. Robyn was kind to share the recipes:
50 ml Norden Aquavit
25 ml Lemon juice
15 ml Orgeat (almond) syrup*
10 ml maraschino
3 dashes peychaud’s bitters
Shake All Ingredients Hard with ice for 10-15 seconds. strain into chilled cocktail glass. garnish with fresh sage leaf
*Orgeat: place 150 grams raw almonds in oven at 220 Celsius for 10-15 minutes (or until lightly browned) Remove from oven and place in 500 ml rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar 1 part water). cover and let sit over night. Strain out almonds and add 1 cl almond extract, 10 drops rose water, and 5cl Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao.
Norden Long Drink
50 ml Norden Aquavit
25 ml Honey Rhubarb Syrup*
15 ml Fresh Lime Juice
1 sleeve (dropper full) Sea Buckthorn/Tangerine Tincture**
Build all ingredients in tall glass filled with ice. stir and garnish with Fresh Mint.
*Rhubarb syrup: over a low heat, dissolve 200 grams sugar and 300 grams honey into 250ml water. allow to cool and add 250 ml fresh Rhubarb Juice to mixture.
**Tincture: Soak equal parts Tangerine peel, coriander, and dried Sea buckthorn in 100 ml Neutral spirits (minimum 50% abv) add only enough solids to fill bottle or jar to middle of liquid fill line.
Stirred and Bitter
50 ml NORDEN AQUAVIT
30 ml Cocchi American
15 ml Suze
1 sleeve (full dropper) Lovage Bitters*
2 dashes Saline solution**
Stir all ingredients in mixing glass filled with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with Lemon peel. Press oils out onto drink.
* Homemade lovage Bitters. Can be Substituted with quality celery bitters.
** Saline Solution. 3:1 water to salt
If you’d like to know much more about Norden Aquavit and the journey Robyn embarked upon, read the in-depth interview with Robyn by Jiri Malis.