Norwegian summer in an akevitt cocktail
Campari meets akevitt in this refreshing summer cocktail with just a touch of fizz
The whole story of why my husband and I decided to leave our jobs in Boston and move to the town in Northern Minnesota where I had grown up in order to start a craft distillery is a rather odd and mysterious one for a variety of reasons (you can read a little more about it at luckypeach.com/how-i-started-my-business-vikre-distillery, if you happen to be interested). But one of the very oddest things about it is that neither of us really drank spirits or cocktails at all before we had the idea to start the distillery. We drank only wine or beer. With one exception: Campari.
I was introduced to Campari by my tante Vigdis when I was 17 or 18 years old. She had brought a bottle down from Oslo with her to make aperitifs for herself, my mom, and me to sip in the early evenings while we avoided cooking dinner and instead lounged about on the smooth, sun-baked rocks at our cabin in Southern Norway. (Sunbathing is basically the official national pastime of Norwegians in the summer if the weather is nice. If the weather is bad, the national pastime becomes checking the weather forecast.) If you’re familiar with Campari, you know that this brilliantly red, bracingly bittersweet, and complex Italian liqueur is not a likely choice for a teenage girl. But tante Vigdis served it to us mixed with a hefty dose of orange juice, so the sweet fresh juice soothed the bitter bite of the Campari. I fell in love with it instantly. At first, I probably mostly liked it because it made me feel sophisticated and chic, but I quickly found I loved the taste as well.
I know exponentially more about cocktails now than I did then, but Campari has not lost any of its charm for me. It is still one of my go-tos in the summer. This Campari and akevitt cocktail is an homage to those fruity drinks my aunt gave us, just a little more grown up. The flavors of Campari and akevitt are both quite strong and could be at odds with each other, but the other ingredients keep any little squabbles from coming to blows. Fresh lime juice brightens while grapefruit soda adds sweetness and fizz. One sip will transport you right to scenes of sunbathing on rocks or relaxing on the porch.
1 oz. akevitt (I use ours, of course—Vikre Distillery Øvrevann Aquavit—but you could use any that is relatively light flavored and not too savory)
1 oz. Campari
Juice of half a lime
Grapefruit soda, like San Pellegrino Pompelmo
Add ice to a tall glass. Pour in the akevitt, Campari, and lime juice. Top with grapefruit soda, stir, and serve.
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 July 3, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.