Cranberry Aquavit Tonic with Swedish Rye and Lingonberry Grilled Cheese is the ultimate holiday happy hour served up Scandinavian-style.Jump to Recipe
The Water of Life:
Aquavit, or “water of life”, is without a doubt the most important drink in Scandinavian culture. Aquavit is traditionally produced from potatoes, grains, or corn. This generously spiced spirit has been hailed over time as a remedy for everything from digestion to rheumatism. Today, Aquavit can be made anywhere in the world and is classified by the botanicals used to flavor it. The European Commission legislation states that the dominant flavor of aquavit must come from the flavorings of caraway or dill. Other botanical additions include fennel, anise, coriander, cumin, citrus or cinnamon.
Having loved the aquavit I was able to sample in Sweden, I began searching for a domestically-produced option that would NOT resemble my grandparents’ cupboard variety! Fortunately I discovered Michigan-produced Norden Aquavit. Norden is on a mission to share the history and authenticity of aquavit while bringing something new to the product. Norden uses only whole botanicals, no extracts and no artificial flavorings. No sugar or other additives. The locally foraged botanicals are steeped overnight in a blend of pristinely filtered water and pure neutral spirits distilled from organic Mid-West grown corn. The result is an aquavit with sweet floral aromas and plenty of citrus, caraway, juniper, Angelica, sage and anise filling your mouth.
Scandinavian Cocktail Hour:
The Norden Aquavit has so many cocktail possibilities with its lively botanical profile! Use Aquavit as you would gin or vodka when creating drinks. I love a good G&T, so I thought a Cranberry Aquavit Tonic would be perfect for the holidays, especially with a nice Scandinavian snack alongside.
My family recipe for Swedish rye bread has a wonderful sweetness and caraway-heavy flavor making it the perfect base to build a grilled cheese snack to pair with the cocktail. Dill Havarti complements the botanicals and a generous slather of lingonberry jam provides Scandi flavor and a nice tartness to complement the cranberry in the drink.
Finish the cocktail with a splash of elderflower syrup (or you can use elderflower tonic) and some fresh mint. I hope you give this a try!
Cranberry Aquavit Tonic with Swedish Rye and Lingonberry Grilled Cheese
- 2 oz. Norden Aquavit
- 2 oz. cranberry juice
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Elderflower syrup, to taste
- Tonic water
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Lemon wheel
Swedish Rye and Lingonberry Grilled Cheese
- Swedish or other rye bread, sliced
- Unsalted butter, softened for spreading
- Dill Havarti cheese, sliced
- Lingonberry preserves
- Fill a rocks glass with ice and add aquavit, cranberry juice, lemon and elderflower syrup. Top off with tonic and garnish with mint and lemon.
For the Grilled Cheese:
- Spread softened butter on one side of bread slices.
- On half of the buttered bread slices, spread a generous layer of lingonberry preserves on the other side and top with cheese slices.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place each buttered and jammed slice butter-side-down in the skillet. Top with remaining slices, butter-side-up.
- Cook on each side of sandwich until golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into squares for cocktail-sized bites.