Despite a fairly large amount of Scandinavian heritage, Aquavit was never a part of my family or the holidays growing up. Most likely due to the strong German influence in Wisconsin it was all about the beer (or deadly serious Tom & Jerrys).
When I finally got around to trying some of the homemade stuff from friend’s family recipes I thought it ok, but nothing special (to be fair I never really drank at all until I was almost 30).
Last spring though, I went to the Heavy Table’s North Coast Nosh IV and one of the originally scheduled vendors was Gamle Ode Aquavit. I was intrigued. A local spirit that wasn’t from Phillips? It became my goal to try it immediately, but alas it was a no show that night.
Somehow in the way these things now work, I started following and chatting with Gamle Ode on twitter and eventually found my way to a liquor store tasting where I met Mike McCarron, the absolutely fascinating character behind the first dill aquavit to be produced in the US. Now there have been several good write ups about Mike so I won’t repeat that work here except to say that if you ever get a chance to sit down and share a drink with him, DO IT!!
Fast forward again to earlier this month, and I welcomed Mike and his equally fascinating girlfriend over for dinner and a night of cocktails. I wanted to feature the dill Gamle Ode but didn’t want to copy the recipes off the website, though I will say the Astrid Projection and Det Sista Ordet are fabulous.
And finally this is where rolling your own comes in.
After a welcome toast of North Shore Aquavit we moved on to our first cocktail of the night:
Dill Silver Fizz
The Fizz and the Collins are interesting drinks. If you look at recipes, they are essentially the same drink; one with ice, and one without. If you add an egg white you get a silver fizz, a yolk gets you a Golden Fizz, and a whole egg gets you a Royal Fizz (pretty sure you want to avoid eggs when it comes to a Collins). Since gin and aquavit have similar profiles I figured switching one for the other was an easy variation.
- 2oz Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit
- 1oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2oz Simple syrup (up to 1oz if you like)
- 1/2oz Egg white (I use the pasteurized ones personally)
- 2-3oz Soda water
Place all ingredients but soda water in shaker, and dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass (or 6-8oz highball) and top with soda water. Enjoy.
I really like the flavor of dill with honey so this drink, a variation of the Bee’s Knees, was really a no brainer. I recommend making a honey syrup in place of actual honey, and as with simple syrup, using weights versus volume will give better results.
- 1 1/2 oz Gamle Ode Dill
- 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz honey syrup
- Garnish with Bittercube Jamaican #2 or Grapefruit bitters
Shake all but bitters over ice and strain into a coupe or nick & nora. garnish with 4 drops of bitters. enjoy.
This last drink wasn’t prepared for my dinner with Mike, but came out of a trip to Marvel Bar a couple weeks ago. For their Improv night they were playing with Kombucha and Pip made me a gin version of this cocktail that was just divine, and I immediately wondered how it would taste with GO Dill. After a number of experiments that involved Curacao and Maraschino, I settled on the original recipe that was provided to me.
*note: this is part of the hyper diluted cocktail series Pip has been developing so you do need all the water called for*
- 2oz Gamle Ode Dill
- 2oz Kombucha
- 1oz lemon juice
- 1oz simple or honey syrup
- a few drops of orange flower water
- 3oz distilled water
build over ice in a collins glass and stir briefly to combine. You can use less water if you like, but don’t go below 2 oz. The idea is to dilute the Kombucha enough that it provides a savory backbone without contributing too much flavor.
*also can be made with 50/50 gin and North shore aquavit*
I suppose it’s been going this way for a few years now, but this year I really noticed the impact that the internet has had on music availability with SXSW this year.
In the past, I would get lists of bands to dig into for a few months afterwards, but this year I really only have a handful of discoveries to look into.
Most of the other bands I’ve heard about this time around have been getting a lot of buzz for the past couple months or aren’t that new.
Leading contender for find of the festival for me is Blaudzun, a Dutch indie folk singer. I’ll be giving his latest album Heavy Flowers a few listens in the coming weeks.
I’m also intrigued by K-X-P, who I don’t know much about at all.
Hopefully more to come
I recently read David Embury’s fabulous classic ‘Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’ and one of his key pieces of advice is that once you understand basic cocktail structure you can, and should, ‘roll you own.’ With that in mind here is a bit of what I’ve been up to lately.
A few months ago I read a blog post about infusing bourbon with Lapsang Souchong tea, which was fabulous btw, but I had been wondering what else I could do with my leftover tea. Finally I hit upon infusing some Punt e Mes as I thought the smokey tea flavors would combine nicely with the drier, herbally vermouth.
I followed the same recipe of 4oz spirit to 1 tsp tea for two hours, which may have been a bit long as my initial taste was overwhelmingly smokey and one dimensional. I decided to let it rest for a few days which turned into a week, and what a difference that made. the flavors were much more balanced.
Of course you could drink it straight but how about a cocktail?
- 2oz Lapsang Souchong infused Punt e Mes
- 1oz Old Forester Signature (high proof and no wheated bourbons)
- 8 drops Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
stirred and served in an old fashioned glass
edited to change title
Two different facets of globalization. Corporate control of far flung assets, and increasing demand that shows whiskeys prices won’t be coming down anytime soon.
Due to the small amount of their Van Winkle (and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection) allocation this year, Haskell’s decided to host a bourbon tasting and raffle for the chance to purchase a bottle of these highly prized whiskeys last Thrusday. I was lucky enough to attend this fun event and thought I would share my thoughts on the whiskeys I was able to taste.
In addition to the raffle, we had the chance to taste 23 different whiskeys. Now given the tasting was two hours and the raffle would be part of it I decided the only way to enjoy what I was tasting would be to focus on whiskeys that were new to me which meant I tasted 7 new or exclusive bottlings.
I opened up my night at the Diageo table with the recently released Bulliet 10yr bourbon. I haven’t been much of a fan of the regular Bulliet bourbon expression so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 10yr, but I was quite impressed. very spice/rye forward and lighter bodied without the sourness that I remembered from the original. Tasty and worth tracking down, but in my opinion not worth the price considering some of the other 10-12 year old offerings for much less. Drop the price $10 and I would be interested.
This was followed with the new Dickel rye. I really wasn’t sure how the traditional Dickel charcoal filtering would impact a rye, and I was pleasantly surprised. Not that spicy but rather minty and very smooth (as expected). I am curious how it would stand up to cocktails, but I could also see this as a unique sipping whiskey in a large collection.
Next up was the Beam table and a preview of a new addition to the Beam stable that won’t be out until August, the Signature Craft series. The first release is a 12yr old Bourbon bottled at 86 proof and finished in Spanish Brandy casks. It reminded me a bit of Baker’s in its sweetness but much more complex with a creamy mouthfeel and a vanilla caramel taste. I would be happy sipping this as an after dinner whiskey. The reps quoted an MSRP of $40 which seems like a great price for this whiskey. Supposedly there will be an additional release annually in this line as well. Well done Beam.
Next up was the table hosted by local distributors Vinocopia. I did break my new whiskey only rule here but they were tasting Jefferson 18yr so I couldn’t be rude could I? I followed that up with Prichard’s Double Barreled Bourbon. interestingly this is blended and reduced to bottle proof, and then re-barreled in new charred oak barrels. This has a lot of rye spice and was quite dry with some sweet corn flavor and oakiness. Very good but pricey. The other new bourbon I tasted here was the New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon. New Holland brewery sources bourbon and then ages it in used bourbon barrels that were used to age their Dragon’s Milk stout. Quite the circle of life. The bourbon picks up a ton of malty/oatmeal notes along with some toffee and molasses flavors as well. This will probably be my next bourbon.
I closed my tastings for the evening with the Haskell’s exclusive bottlings of Eagle Rare and Blanton’s. The Eagle Rare I found sweeter than the other bottles I’ve tried and also a bit smoother. The bottle I have at home is a little rough around the edges but in a good way. The Blanton’s exclusive to me tasted like all the Blanton’s I’ve ever had. Dry, vanilla, and caramel notes. Very good, but you wouldn’t have to go out of your way to get this barrel versus another.
The night finally ended with the raffle where I was lucky enough to be the fifth person called and secured a bottle of Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye that I can’t wait to try.
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I said a few weeks back that I wouldn’t sneak in any additional favorite albums from 2012, and I’ll stick to that pledge. However, there were a lot of great things that weren’t album but deserve a bit of attention, so here they are:
- NeferTT - Blue Skies Red Soil EP; criminally ignored, at least in the US, this EP on Scuba’s Hotflush label pushes the Bass envelope in a direction that no one else is mining right now.
- DVA - Fly Juice EP; DVA’s album Pretty Ugly nearly made it onto my top ten list for 2012. It seemed to take the SBTRKT blueprint, completely tear it down, and rearrange it. This EP though is pure dancefloor. It’s amazing to me how seamlessly he can flit through the different strands of Bass music.
- Burial - Kindred and Truant EPs; Is there ever a Burial release that isn’t good? 2012 saw him experimenting with longer form songs that are almost suites in their construction. I am intrigued by his referencing a good chunk of his back catalog on Truant. Is a signal that he may be moving on?
- Plastikman - Arkives; Collecting literally everything related to Plastikman across 15 CDs and a DVD along with an in depth biography and it was all limited to whomever pre-ordered it. AMAZING!!!
- Fact Mixes; Fact continues to get the biggest names and all the rising stars for their mix series. AND they are free to download. A great way to stay on top of everything that is happening in the dance world. Need a place to start? check our the Tensnake & Scuba mixes, my favorites of the year.
- Vase - VSE07; This free compilation from Jacques Greene’s label was nothing that I was expecting at all. Instead of the Bass/Tech-House niche he has carved himself, it was much more chilled out with a strong Future R&B feel. I highly recommend grabbing this
- Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm - Stare EP; Leaving the world of dance music but not electronics, I was introduced to both of these neo-classical composers separately this year through podcasts that I listen to and fell in love with both. So when I discovered that they had released an EP together, I knew I had to have it instantly. It is easy to pick out their two aesthetics on these ambient electronic pieces, but that is not to say they do not work together. Instead their styles seem to mesh perfectly with one another and I cannot wait for a follow up. Also make sure to check out this live improvisation from 2011.