Denmark Comes to Pasadena

Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 12:29 am

Danish flavor made right here in Pasadena gives you a drink with a flavor like no other. You owe it to yourself to try the best with the great taste of aquavit liquor and the cocktails that can be made using it.

Aquavit originated in Scandinavia. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland each have a regional style, but all regions have two ingredients in common. The base spirit itself is distilled from grain or potato and then distilled many times. The purpose of these many distillations is to produce a base highly alcoholic spirit that is odorless, colorless and tasteless, referred to as a neutral grain spirit.

40195829_517485602032323_2396952552555928279_nThen botanicals are added. By international standards, aquavit will contain the spice caraway, a flavor most Americans associate with rye bread. Dill, star anise, citrus or all of them together might be added to give the preferred traditional flavor of a Scandinavian region. Fennel, coriander or pepper also might be added… Stark Spirits’ version uses caraway and grains of paradise. This is the flavor of the aquavit Greg’s Bavarian family and Danish friends drank when he was growing up. Grains of Paradise is a botanical that hails from West Africa, and it adds a hint of pepper for a refreshing “zing” at the finish.

Did you know aquavit can heal your body? Okay, so this is probably a complete myth but was believed to be true in the 1300s. People thought the spirit would banish old age and disease and even used it as a traditional medicine during the era of the Black Death. It might have some truth to it though as Scandinavians display a healthiness and hardiness hard to match.

Nowadays, people are less gullible but there is evidence that aquavit may assist with the digestion of rather rich food in the stomach. Since it’s often served with that type food, there’s more evidence for than against so proceed according to your findings.

There are several ways to enjoy aquavit, all of them using aquavit that is ice cold. Some people throw it back in shots and follow those up with a pilsner beer (a somewhat traditional practice). However, sipping it in a glass is quite acceptable. Aquavit’s outstanding palate-cleansing effect makes it a perfect accompaniment to the strong- flavored fish dishes and the equally hearty flavors of the many kinds of cheese that the region is known for. It is also traditional to serve it with a robust coffee offered at the end of the meal as a digestif.

Not at all traditional, but very popular now, are cocktails made with aquavit. Bartenders are excited about the growing interest in this newly “discovered” spirit that’s been around for centuries. Many intriguing recipes are being created by mixologists. One of the most popular recipes is the Danish Mule, which combines aquavit with ginger beer and very tart lemon juice. You can also try the particularly Nordic-sounding Sunrise Over The Fjord cocktail, which mixes aquavit, brandy, grenadine, lime juice, and orange juice together to create a memorably unique taste.

Initially, the idea of cocktails with aquavit was surprising to Greg He’d grown up with it served straight from the ice-cold bottle into a small shot glass and then “skål” and down the hatch (eventually followed by the aforementioned pilsner beer)! Stark Spirits went with the flow and developed a number of cocktails made with their Traditional Danish Aquavit. It was a necessity in order to answer the question “what kind of cocktails can you make with aquavit?” They have several, but Karen recommends her favorite, the Danish Fizz: 1-1/2 Oz of ice cold Stark Spirits Aquavit, ½ Oz fresh lime juice, simple syrup to taste (½ – 1 – 1½ tsp), mixed before being shaken with a few ice cubes, then poured into a champagne flute glass of 3 Oz sparkling wine. Fabulous.

Have some fun creating your own Cocktail. Pick up a bottle of Stark Spirits Traditional Danish Aquavit and experiment. Skål

Stark Spirits Distillery is located at 1260 Lincoln Ave #1100, in Pasadena. For more information, call (626) 798-1377 or schedule a visit online at








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