COLORS OF FALL
It’s a few days later now…and the three infused vodkas are beginning to resemble the varied caramelized colors of fall. One, in fact, turned the hue of Aalborg Jubilaeum Akvavit by the end of the first day – just the snaps I was out to recreate. Today is the third day and they now appear to be variations of the same. So, this morning they received a gentle upside down shake of their contents to distribute their rich flavors and then, were returned to rest and repeat in another 3-5 days.
This quest may have you wondering…but, there is some reason in this madness of mine that I am sharing with you. Having attended many a Danish celebration has given me a true awareness of the many varieties of akvavit that now exists. It may be just simple economics that has given way to my favorite akvavit being no longed exported to the US. But, it has given me impetus to understand and appreciate this part of my heritage even more. Whatever the true cause of what I will call the ‘great embargo of 2009’, I will do my best to find a comparable homemade substitute of my favorite water from the vine. Thus, this little experiment will give me great delight in discovering the care and patience in producing a homemade version for someone stateside to enjoy.
So, let me share how this bottled batch was born. First, all my Danish cookbooks (both in English and Danish) hit the kitchen counter. There I went through each seeing what was available in background and recipes. These I will list for your reference. Then, I went online and searched in both English and Danish databases/blogs/websites for additional recipes. I have to tell you there were more recipes it seems than possible to try. But, at least…they have become part of my own database and will then become part of this adventure that I am sharing with you.
With the first hurdle of finding recipes completed, I had to concentrate on the second most important part of this experiment, the ingredients. These all referred to choosing a liquid base ingredient with ingredients to flavor it. In most Danish recipes the base ingredient that was used was unflavored ‘Brændevin’, which is general term for beverage distilled from potatoes, grain or in the past wood cellulose. Akvavit and vodka are derived from this same process. Given this knowledge, I went online again and searched out potato vodkas and found it mainly a Polish product with some interesting commentary. It seems in the world of vodka, the potato distilled version is viewed with little respect; except, Chopin Vodka. Otherwise, the impression was one of basement brew. Well, I did not need to enjoy a well-priced polished vodka for it’s flavor alone. So, I decided on this first endeavor to purchase some basic everyday polish potato vodka, ‘Monopolowa‘ 750ml for a mere $12/bottle. I bought two bottles with the intent of dividing them into a third bottle to make the three 500ml concoctions.
Below I have included the three recipes that I chose to test this past Saturday. I hope as the weeks move forward to have more results and news about how well they are responding to being infused with their varied flavors.
DIRECTIONS for all Three Recipes
Open the vodka bottle, add all the remaining ingredients, and cover tightly.
Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking every 3 or 4 days – how long you let it sit depends on how strong you want it, so taste it after 2 weeks to see if you want to let it go longer.
When it’s as strong as you’d like, strain the solids through a sieve and discard them, then transfer the aquavit back into the bottle or unless otherwise, directed.
To serve: place your aquavit in the freezer until chilled and serve in 1 ounce tall glasses.
Herbal Snaps / ‘Kryddersnaps’
1-2 large spring of thyme
10-12 dry whole cloves
1 tbsp tsp anise seed
1 liter potato vodka
2 tsp. anise seeds (or 2 star anise)
Andreas Viestad’s Mock Aquavit Recipe
(use 1/2 recipe)
Recipe adapted from “Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad” by Andres Viestad. Prep time includes infusion.
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 star anise or 2 tsp anise seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 cinnamon stick, 1-inch long (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (optional)