A refined akevitt cocktail for spring

Inspired by family memories, the Norsk 17 is a refreshing, Scandinavian twist on a classic cocktail

Photo: Emily Vikre With akevitt, prosecco, and lime, this refreshing cocktail is a Norwegian twist on the classic French 75 cocktail.

Photo: Emily Vikre
With akevitt, prosecco, and lime, this refreshing cocktail is a Norwegian twist on the classic French 75 cocktail.

Emily Vikre
Duluth, Minn.

When my husband and I decided to move back to my hometown in Northern Minnesota to open up a craft distillery, we knew basically from the start that we wanted to make akevitt. My mother emigrated from Norway to the United States when she was in her early 20s, and my father’s family is also Norwegian, so I had grown up with ake­vitt as a presence at all of our holidays. My mother and some of our best family friends who are also from Norway had, in fact, taken our neighborhood by storm when I was little with the introduction of a raucous Syttende Mai fest complete with parade, giant smørgåsbord of everyone’s favorite Norwegian treats, and free-flowing akevitt and drinking songs. It’s something everyone looks forward to all year long.

When I set out to craft the akevitt that we make at our distillery, I wanted to create one that hearkened to those I was familiar with, like Linie and Aalborg, but to tone down the burn and the heavy hit of caraway by adding a number of other spices inspired by Scandinavian baked goods. Our akevitt has some cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, fennel, and citrus zest, a bit like a spiced rye bread.

While the traditional way of drinking akevitt is to sip it ice cold alongside a beer, creative bartenders have recently discovered akevitt makes an excellent base for cocktails. In Norway, Linie actually sponsors a cocktail competition. In the United States, you’ll find akevitt cocktails on the menus of fine establishments from New York to Chicago to Seattle. I love using our akevitt—which is named Øvrevann, Norwegian for Upper Lake, or Lake Superior, where our distillery is located—and others for cocktails to give them a little Scandinavian inflection.

This particular cocktail is a festive sparkling cocktail that I served to my family when we celebrated Syttende Mai this year—along with our traditional straight akevitt, of course. This is a simple variation of the French 75, which is a classic gin cocktail. Instead of gin, lemon, and champagne, here the flavors of akevitt marry beautifully with lime and prosecco. It’s refreshing, effervescent, and tastes like a celebration!

Photo: Emily Vikre

Photo: Emily Vikre

Norsk 17
1 oz Vikre Øvrevann Aquavit (this cocktail will also work with another caraway or anise-dominant akevitt like Linie or Krogstad)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
3 oz prosecco (or other dry sparkling wine)

Shake the aquavit, lime juice, and simple syrup with ice until chilled. Strain into a cocktail coupe or champagne flute and top with the prosecco.

Emily Vikre is a Norwegian-American dual citizen who grew up in Northern Minnesota but spent all her summers at her family’s hytte in Southern Norway. After receiving a PhD in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Emily and her husband Joel decided to change the course of their lives and moved back to Duluth, Minn., to start Vikre Distillery (vikredistillery.com) where they make fine handcrafted spirits inspired by the nature and culture of Northern Minnesota. Emily is also an enthusiastic cook, recipe developer, and food writer and has contributed to such publications as Lucky Peach, Food52, Cake & Whiskey Magazine, and Minnesota Public Radio.

This article originally appeared in the May 22, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.