How to Infuse Homemade “Mock” Aquavit
Aquavit is gaining increasing recognition in the United States thanks to the contributions of Sweden’s Marcus Samuelsson, co-owner of New York’s premier Scandinavian restaurant, Aquavit, and to Norway’s noted food expert, Andreas Viestad. While Scandinavian brands of Aquavit such as Linie Aquavit (from Norway) and Aalborg Akvavit (from Denmark) are available in a few specialty liquor stores, it is easy and rewarding to create your own unique versions of “Mock” Aquavit by infusing potato or grain-based vodka with combinations of your favorite spices and fruits. Here’s the basic process and a few suggested ingredients – feel free to experiment with your own combinations to create a personal family label!
- Add a combination of spices, berries, and / or citrus peel to a 1- liter bottle of potato or grain-based vodka (potato vodka is preferable, if you can find it locally. A few brands to look for are American-produced Blue Ice Vodka or Teton Glacier Vodka or Poland’s Chopin Vodka). Sugar can be added as well, if you prefer a sweeter taste. (Tip: If using spice seeds such as caraway, anise, fennel, dill, or coriander, first toast the seeds very lightly and quickly in a frying pan over medium heat. This will help to release their essential oils).
- Replace the lid on the bottle and place on a counter or in a cupboard out of direct sunlight. Let ingredients infuse for at least two weeks.
- After two weeks, sample the aquavit. If you would prefer a stronger, spicier flavor, allow to sit for another 1-2 weeks (the flavor intensifies the longer that the bottle is left to infuse).
- Once the flavors have blended to your taste, strain the aquavit through a fine-meshed sieve or through cheesecloth to remove the solids and clarify the liquid. Return to bottle and store in the freezer until use. Aquavit should always be served ice-cold; it gains a smooth, syrupy consistency when chilled.
Commonly used spices and herbs for flavoring Mock Aquavit: caraway seeds, fennel seeds, star anise or anise seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, fresh mint, lemon verbena, allspice, peppercorns, cardamom pods, fresh ginger root.
Suggested fruits and berries to infuse along with spices: raspberries, blackberries, cloudberries (look for frozen bags of cloudberries in specialty Scandinavian food stores), marionberries, lingonberries, peaches, fresh or dried apricots, fresh or dried apples, cranberries, cherries, prunes, lemon peel, lime peel, orange peel, grapefruit peel.
A few infusion combinations to try:
- 2 tsp. caraway seeds, 2 tsp. anise seeds (or 2 star anise), 1 whole clove, and peel from 1/2 orange.
- 1/2 cup whole and 1/2 cup halved cranberries, 1 Tbsp. sliced fresh ginger root, 1 cinnamon stick, and peel from 1/2 orange.
- 1/2 tsp. anise seeds, 1 cup sliced peaches or apricots, and 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves.
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 Tbsp. sliced fresh ginger root, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and peel from 1/2 lemon or orange.
- 2 tsp. caraway seeds, peel from one lime, and 1/4 cup lemon verbena.
- 2 crushed cardamom pods, 1 cup raspberries, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 whole clove, and peel from 1/2 orange.
- 2 tsp. anise seeds (or 2 star anise), 1/2 cup dried apple slices, 1/2 cup dried apricots, 2 sliced prunes, and 1 cinnamon stick.