Exploring Thanksgiving Cheers with Aquavit

Every year, as Thanksgiving rolls around, important decisions need to be made. How big a turkey do you need? Homemade cranberry sauce or canned? And what drinks will you  serve with dinner? This year, make it easy on yourself and wow your guests at the same time by serving aquavit with your Thanksgiving dinner. Perfect for pairing with food and sharing with loved ones, aquavit is the ultimate holiday spirit!

What Is Aquavit?

Aquavit is a neutral-based spirit that’s highly popular in Scandinavian countries. Its distillation process is very similar to gin; what separates the two are the types of herbs, spices, and botanicals that are used for flavor. While juniper is the main element in gin, aquavit is typically made with caraway and dill, but several other botanicals can be used as well, such as

  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Citrus fruit
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Clove
  • All Spice

Aquavit’s unique flavor profile makes it perfect for blending with cocktails and pairing with food. In Scandinavian countries, it’s a very social and celebratory drink. Often, it’s served with food and sipped, chilled, and neat.. 

Aquavit is commonly called “Scandinavian Gin” because it works so well  in cocktails and is so versatile with food. Bartenders and chefs all over the world have started to feature aquavit  on their menus, which is making aquavit the trending alcohol drink of the year!

Why Aquavit Should Be Served at Thanksgiving 

bar pub alcohol drink

The main reason aquavit should be present at your Thanksgiving meal is that it’s one of the best spirits in the world to pair with food. It’s also a drink that’s meant to be served at holiday celebrations and feasts. Aquavit has always been used as a means to bring people together socially while it’s shared with a meal.

Aquavit is great in cocktails; its herbaceous notes cut perfectly through heavy or rich dishes. Some distilleries have even started making special blends to be released during the holidays with specific food pairings in mind. 

Popular high-end Scandinavian restaurants around the world offer aquavit pairing menus where a different type is served with each course, just like wine. Each distiller creates their own enticing blend of botanicals, which makes for satisfying exploration and discovery. Your friends and family will delight in debating which dish paired the best. 

Which Aquavits to Pair with Thanksgiving Dishes

There are many different types of aquavit. Some are bottled young, others are aged in old sherry casks. Different brands can taste spicy, or sweet, herbaceous, or citrusy. Here’s a pairing guide to help you decide which types of aquavit to buy for your Thanksgiving dinner recipes.

  • Turkey- Look for American aquavit brands that list herbal and sweet notes in their flavor profile. These will pair well while not overpowering the star of the show. 
  • Stuffing- Depending on which stuffing recipe you use, any aquavit with dill and carraway will enhance the herbs and spices in your dish, as well as those with sage or bay leaf. 
  • Vegetables- Drier aquavits that have more fennel and anise in them will help cut through the richness of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and roasted sweet potatoes. 
  • Desserts- Aged aquavits have notes of dried plums, raisins, and vanilla in them. As well as more baking spices such as ginger, cinnamon, clove, and all-spice. These are the perfect accompaniment to your sweet treats at the end of the meal. 

The Best Way to Serve Aquavit at Thanksgiving 

Traditionally, aquavit is served chilled and neat in a small tulip-shaped glass. This is the best way to appreciate its aroma and unique flavor. However, you can also experiment with your favorite holiday cocktails and see which ones taste even better with aquavit added to them.

Aquavit  also makes a wonderful addition to spritzers and sparkling wine drinks, so consider serving it in a champagne cocktail with a festive Thanksgiving drink garnish like frozen cranberries or sugared sage leaves. Aged aquavits are often comparable to aged rums and can be used in your favorite festive rum cocktails as well.

glass with cocktail and berries

Cheers with Aquavit

The rest of the world is finally starting to discover what Scandinavia has known for centuries: Aquavit is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays and is meant to be enjoyed with a feast. Make your Thanksgiving meal an overwhelming success with aquavit and start a new holiday tradition that your guests will clamor for each year. Skal to that!

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