Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable- DrinkupNY

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable 

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2014

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I was poking around in the liquor cabinet the other day finding some nearly forgotten gems like the American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial that was lurking in the periphery.  I hadn’t worked with this fabulous, flavor packed product in some time and upon discovering the slender bottle hiding behind some Rhum Agricole– it brought an immediate smile to my face.  I smiled because the tart, sumptuous flavors encapsulated in the bottle would be “just what the doctor ordered” for the combination of sweet to the savory in my glass.

Usually I serve the Sour Cherry Cordial over crushed ice with a mint simple syrup and seltzer but today I’ve discovered something altogether unexpected.  Today is different because of the product named Aquavit.

What is Aquavit?  Aside from the literal translation of Aqua Vit or water of life, Aquavit is distilled from either grain or potatoes and the predominant flavor is that of caraway seeds along with lemon peel, fennel cardamom, cumin, anise and other fruit oils depending on the region and style desired.  Some Aquavit is aged in the barrel but most Aquavit is bottled after blending down to 40% ABV.

It is still a very potent slurp.

I chose Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit because it is from Iceland.  Icelandic water is one of the purest sources of water on the planet.  Martin Miller Gin is also made with this soft, lightly mineral water source.

I think that the spirits that use Icelandic water are absolutely smashing and you should taste them just as soon as you are able.
When you mix this grain and potato based Aquavit with Sour Cherry Cordial everything tastes better around you.  Especially if you are eating foods like pickled herring or smoked salmon, Aquavit is just a natural with the sugar, salt and spicy flavors from the northern part of Europe.

You see, foods from the Scandinavian countries are just perfectly pared with Aquavit and strangely enough with American Sour Cherry Cordial.

This combination of flavors reminds me of a visit to Amsterdam about twenty years ago.  I was just mesmerized by Belgian beer; especially the tart varieties of Cherry infused Lambic Ales.  I’ve grown to crave the warm aromatics of aged cherries in my glass and on the plate.  There is nothing more alluring than a roasted pork loin cooked with sour cherries or a medallion of Brook Trout enrobed in brown butter, hazelnuts and finished with Lambic-soaked cherry flavored Ale.

Mixing Sour Cherries and Aquavit is perhaps the most interesting recipe in my current toolkit of cocktail whisperer inspired recipes.  Aquavit was certainly used as a curative in the early apothecary so it becomes an essential ingredient in the struggle to determine the fine line of good health over intoxication!

I say drink what you like and all will be well.

The American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial makes for a perfect “Day Drink” because you can decide exactly how mind numbing you want this cocktail to be. If you want to numb your entire body, use more Aquavit.  If you want a perfectly lovely day drink, use more Sour Cherry Cordial and some more mint simple syrup.  Whichever way you choose to make it, I offer the stronger of the two ways for your perusal and hopefully your whole-hearted approval.

Sæmundur: The Knowledgeable
You can make this strong like an Icelandic warrior.
This is the way that I think you should have it.

Ingredients:
2 oz.  Brennivin Icelandic Aquavit
½ oz. American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial
1 oz. Mint Simple Syrup
1 oz. seltzer water
Lemon Bitters from Bitter Truth
Hand cut ice (essential!)

Prep:
To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice, add the Aquavit, the Sour Cherry Cordial and the mint simple syrup

Shake hard for 15 seconds
Pour over the hand cut ice into a tall Collins glass
Add a splash of seltzer water and 2-3 drops of the lemon bitters
Garnish with a sour cherry pierced by a long straw

Mint Simple Syrup:
(Crush 1-cup spearmint and add to 1 cup Demerara Sugar and 1 cup spring water, bring to a simmer in a non reactive saucepan for at least 20 minutes and reduce to desired thickness, strain out the mint with a cheesecloth. Reduce some more for extra good luck in battle)

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.