Enjoy a shot (or cocktail) of hospitality
New book of drink recipes features Scandi warmth and conviviality in every glass
It can be hard to find a Scandinavian-inspired cocktail that doesn’t involve aquavit. Yet the traditionally caraway-spiced spirit is almost too easy of a foundation these days in the world of professional bartending. Take the founders of the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in Portland, Maine, for example. They’ve managed to make a name for themselves with their establishment. And this month they’re flinging open the doors to those who can’t make it to Maine with a new book.
Northern Hospitality with the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club: A Celebration of Cocktails, Cooking, and Coming Together by Andrew and Briana Volk tells the story of how the authors met and ultimately moved across the country from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, to open up the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club.
In the years that have followed, they’ve become a James Beard semi-finalist twice and have just published a cookbook.
In their new book, published by Voyageur Press in September 2018, they feature a variety of cocktail recipes, plus some snacks. It’s not all Nordic, of course, but with Briana’s Finnish roots, there’s certainly a lot of inspiration there.
Here’s a sampling of recipes from the book. Drink up (responsibly, of course), and skål!
This drink was on our opening menu and has reappeared frequently over the years. It’s one of those drinks that’s popular with a wide range of people, as it’s easy to drink. It’s also incredibly easy to make! While we don’t mind substitutions in some cocktails, for this one you really do need to track down Royal Rose’s Three Chile Simple Syrup. Made in small batches here in Maine by a husband-and-wife team, it has the perfect amount of heat and complexity. Once you have it on hand, you’re sure to find other uses for it as well. Do yourself a favor and pick it up if you’re making this cocktail.
1 ½ oz. vodka
3⁄4 oz. Royal Rose Three Chile Simple Syrup
3⁄4 oz. fresh lime juice
soda water, to fill (approximately 3 oz.)
lime wheel, for garnish
Combine the vodka, syrup, and lime juice in a mixing tin.
Add ice, cap the tin, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Strain into a Collins glass. Fill the glass with fresh ice and top with soda water. Garnish with the lime wheel.
Makes one drink.
The Sazerac is one of the oldest cocktails in existence, dating back to the 1800s in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Its recipe and story have been faithfully passed down through generations of bartenders. It has stood the test of time, even surviving Prohibition intact. What often is left out of the barroom version of the Sazerac is that it was initially made with cognac instead of rye whiskey as its base. In the 1850s and 1860s, the most desirable spirit to drink among the wealthy was cognac, as nearly everything French was in vogue at the time. Cognac was readily available and imported by numerous agents, including a brand called Sazerac de Forge et Fils. It is thought that from this brand (along with a coffeehouse of the same name that served the cocktail) comes the name for the drink. Not long after, in 1863, a tiny pest called phylloxera started decimating the grapevines in France; it is estimated that between 1863 and 1875, two-thirds of all grapevines were destroyed by the bug. With the destruction of France’s grapes came the skyrocketing of prices of any grape-based product, including cognac. As cognac became increasingly more difficult to obtain, the readily available rye whiskey was used to create the Sazerac, which is the recipe that is most used today (with a small amount of Angostura bitters to round out the drink). In this cocktail, we stick to the classic specs handed down by Thomas Handy but go back and swap the phenomenal Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac in for rye whiskey.
2 oz. Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac
2 dashes Angostura bitters
5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 tsp. rich simple syrup*
Absinthe, for glass rinse
Combine the cognac, Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, and syrup in a mixing glass.
Rinse a chilled single old fashioned glass with a small amount of absinthe, or use three pumps from a small atomizer to mist the chilled glass with the aroma of absinthe. Set the chilled, absinthe-rinsed glass aside.
Add ice to the mixing glass and stir 30 to 50 times.
Gently strain the drink into the chilled single Old Fashioned glass. Express the lemon peel across the top of the drink and discard. Do not use the peel as a garnish.
Makes one drink.
*Rich simple syrup: We use a thicker sugar syrup than the standard simple syrup (which is made with one part sugar and one part water) at Hunt + Alpine. The syrup is made with two parts sugar to one part hot water, by weight instead of volume. Using a kitchen scale is the only way you will ensure consistency throughout your drinks and the recipes within this book. Once mixed, we continue to agitate the syrup until the sugar is completely dissolved into the solution. Using this allows us to easily provide a slightly thicker texture to a drink by adding the same amount of sugar with less water added. It is an easy-to-make and versatile syrup that we keep on hand both at Hunt + Alpine and in our refrigerator. There are plenty of paths to explore with using different types of sugar, flavoring the syrup, or implementing thickening agents to the syrup, but we continually come back to this simple, accessible, and versatile iteration.
This is one of our most popular drinks. It has been on the menu since we opened without a break, and it is a drink that we are incredibly proud of. It’s simple, yet pleases many different types of guests on multiple levels. First and foremost, it’s so delicious that almost everyone enjoys it. Slightly sweet without being syrupy, it’s a perfect drink to sip while deciding on dinner. It uses Cocchi Americano Bianco, a product imported from Italy that uses wine as its base. The wine is fortified, sweetened, and aromatized, leaving a pleasing play between sweetness and bitterness on the tongue. (It is an ingredient that even the geekiest cocktailian would be happy to serve a crowd.) Our staff loves this drink because it’s very simple to make round after round (and they do get ordered by the table), so you’ll find it is a very easy drink to batch at home for a party. Finally, this drink is great because it’s low in alcohol; it is a great spacer when you feel like you don’t want something strong, and it’s wonderful to sip all night long when you’re just not in the mood for stronger spirits.
1 ½ oz. Cocchi Americano Bianco
2 oz. soda water
1 oz. elderflower liqueur
grapefruit twist, for garnish
pitcher (6 drinks, with ice):
9 oz. Cocchi Americano Bianco
6 oz. elderflower liqueur
12 oz. soda water
grapefruit twists, for garnish
In a chilled double Old Fashioned glass, combine the Cocchi Americano Bianco and the elderflower liqueur.
Fill the glass with ice, and then top with the soda water. Stir gently to incorporate, and garnish with an expressed grapefruit twist.
pitcher (6 drinks, with ice):
Pour the Cocchi Americano Bianco and elderflower liqueur into a 64-oz. pitcher.
Fill the pitcher with ice, then top with the soda water.
Stir gently to incorporate and garnish with several grapefruit twists. To serve, pour gently from the pitcher, making sure to spoon in some ice along with the liquid. Do not allow the drink to sit too long before serving, as the ice will melt and dilute it.
Note: The recipes and photos in this feature article are from Northern Hospitality with the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, © 2018 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. Text and photography © 2018 Briana and Andrew Volk. Photo of White Noise (left) is by Peter Frank Edwards. First published in 2018 by Voyageur Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group. This content is printed by permission of The Quarto Group.
Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway Editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).
This article originally appeared in the September 21, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.