Proposed by: David
Reviewed by: Jonathan
So, I see the cruelty of sending Jonathan to the liquor store for an obscure Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit. What demand can there be for Linie (the variety I chose), a spirit that crosses the equator twice in sherry casks to reach its proper flavor? It may be one of the more colorful stories of our tenure here, this fetishist tale of taste, what someone might do to make something distinctive.
That said, the cocktail is simple, with only four ingredients, the Aquavit, the Sweet Vermouth, the lemon, and the Angostura bitters. That’s all. I’m not sure any bar tender could reproduce it—who knows how many bars stock Aquavit—but it seems no more odd than a martini, I guess.
Here’s a case where maybe the accompaniment makes a big difference. We had crackers and lox with dill Havarti cheese, capers, and a horseradish whipped cream. It could be the Scandinavian connection of ingredients, but the food seemed perfectly complementary. Come to think of it, maybe it was all about the food. Perhaps that explains the collective effect of this cocktail.
Here’s the recipe:
- 2 ounces aquavit
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 1 lemon twist, for garnish
And here is Jonathan’s review:
Oh for the halcyon days of The Aviation. A beautiful Fall afternoon, a group of friends, and a what-the-heck cocktail of an indescribable taste and color.
The first thing I have to say about this week’s cocktail is a nod to the main ingredient, its unique voyage and how hard I had to look to find it. Aquavit, as the introduction says, is aged on a serpentine world voyage in sherry casks. I only wish I had the ability to produce a map of my voyage to find it because, other than not crossing the equator twice, I sense it was similar to the map on the back of the Linie Aquavit. It almost demanded that I try the strange gold-brown liqueur once I did find it.
The other admission I need to make is that, while the name Rosalind Russell is familiar I kept confusing her with another actress – Jane Russell. The more I had to look for Aquavit, the more I spent that time considering the creation of a Jane Russell cocktail as a substitute. The funny thing, cross my heart, is that there already is such a cocktail. And if I have to explain the joke in that sentence, you did not watch enough television in the 70’s.
So what happens when you mix that hard to find spirit with the red sweet vermouth and bitters? Another strange what-the-heck color cocktail with an odd and hard to describe flavor. The Aquavit description tells me I should expect caraway, but frankly I am not sure I know that taste well enough to say what it is. There is something familiar in the taste, however, and once we added a little simple syrup it brightened to a good familiar. Maybe a little more citrus would add some needed zing too. There is no doubt that I will make one of these for my friend Jerry. He liked the Aviation, so I suspect that this is one that will appeal to him also.
David’s take: Okay, I’m crazy. I love this stuff. The odder the better, as far as I’m concerned. I just like something new, I guess.
Jonathan’s take: I love the exotic and florid descriptions of spirits like Aquavit, but in cases like these the drinks have trouble holding up their end.
Next week (proposed by Jonathan):
My sons gave me a cocktail book for my birthday – Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh. The drinks are interesting and the descriptions even more so. I am proposing a choice for next week. David and I can choose to have monkey testicles surgically implanted to improve our virility, or we can try the wonderfully named Monkey Gland cocktail. Not sure what direction David is going to go, but I think I will go for the libation.