Nestled in a small space just off the water and the bridge in southern Ballard (a little south of the Trader Joe's if you want to stop by), the Old Ballard Liquor Company is making a name for itself with a nice range of small batch products, highlighted by its aquavits. There are some snazzy seasonal aquavits, to go along with a core line that’s always available. While I think all the aquavits are worth trying, if you want to head for the core of the line, I say pick up a bottle of the Riktig, which is the feature in this Local Spirit Spotlight.
One misconception about aquavits is that they have an anise flavor--some have hints of anise, sure, but traditionally it’s caraway to some degree and often in combination with many other herbs and spices--that sets the stage. Depending on where you’re at in Scandinavia, or what style of aquavit the producer is aiming for, you’ll have a wide range of flavor profiles.
Riktig, though, is a Norwegian-style aquavit, and it has a hearty caraway undertone, which is rounded out with mustards seeds and some secret spices before being aged on local alder wood. Like all aquavits, it’s meant to be paired up with food. Because of that hearty flavor, it goes well with wintry and early spring foods, sausage, big meaty dishes and items that are very spice forward (it even stands up to Indian food).
However, just because it has such a distinctive personality, don’t think the Riktig doesn’t play well with others in cocktails. You just have to balance it out and pair it well. At the Sexton in Ballard, the cocktail masters mix it with maple syrup, hot cider and lemon in its Viking Funeral, while at Volterra they bring another strong flavor nicely into the fray with the classic takeoff the Oslo Mule, which has the Riktig, lime and ginger beer.
While I always suggest sipping a new spirit solo at first, below are a few recipes that use Riktig, to help you start your aquavit adventure.
I Will Give You A Thrashing
2 oz Riktig Aquavit
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (I used Cocchi Torino)
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange Curaçao
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink while facing Ballard.
2-1/2 ounces Riktig
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Lemon twist for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the aquavit and vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze and release the twist.