In the United States, aquavit is relatively unknown. In Europe, aquavit is not only fairly well established, but it’s also pretty popular. In America, however, most people have never heard of aquavit, and even fewer have ever tasted it. That’s fine with us. Our special spin on traditional aquavit is actually quite different from the familiar brands, so we’re happy to have Batch 22 be most people’s introduction to the unique deliciousness and versatility of good aquavit.
We’ve talked a lot recently about how Batch 22 aquavit makes great cocktails and even works brilliantly neat or on the rocks. We thought we’d take this opportunity to talk a little bit about pairing aquavit with food and specifically food to serve with aquavit, and how it can be used in a wide variety of culinary applications.
Foods that Pair with Aquavit
Aquavit is, at its heart, a neutral grain spirit that’s flavored with various ingredients. At an average of 80 proof, it is a crisp, “lean” spirit with little or no sugar, so it’s not sweet. The basic flavor profile of most aquavits can be described as herbaceous with the most prominent elements being the licorice-forward star anise and fennel components. Batch 22, however, is not about the licorice. Our New American Aquavit is citrus-forward, with prominent flavors and aromas of caraway and dill. Without the overpowering flavors of licorice, Batch 22 is able to play much more successfully with a wide variety of other ingredients.
The classic pairing for any and all aquavit is fish. It complements all kinds of fish but does especially well with smoky and oily varieties. Smoked salmon, smoked whitefish, bluefish, swordfish, herring, and sardines; they’re all great food to serve with aquavit, which provides a “clean” palate-cleansing function that cuts through the strong and lingering flavors in the fish.
Aquavit is a great ingredient in fish recipes as well. Fry, bake, or broil almost any kind of fish and you can create a simple and delicious sauce to accompany it by blending mustard, cream, aquavit, and fresh dill or parsley. And, if you’re a fan of capers, those work great as well.
Sauces with Aquavit
You can create an endless variety of delicious sauces with aquavit; sauces that pair beautifully not only with fish, but also with meats and poultry. Used as a marinade with your favorite spice rubs or herb blends, Batch 22 in particular will impart a delicious citrus and spice component to the finished dish. While cooking with our buddy, Chef John Foster, at his restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky (The Sage Rabbit), we created a wonderful pasta dish using Batch 22. With a base of shallots, shitake mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes, I added 3 or 4 tablespoons of Batch, flamed it, and finished with heavy cream and fresh parsley. Stir in some fresh fettuccine, and you’ve got an aquavit pasta that really sings.
Desserts with Aquavit
Aquavit is not only for savory dishes. In fact, one of the most successful desserts we’ve created so far involved soaking madeleines in Batch 22 and layering them with a combination of sweetened and whipped mascarpone and sweetened whipped cream. We highly recommend doing this with some Batch that’s been infused overnight with either a fresh vanilla bean or a handful of fresh espresso beans. Layer madeleines (or pound cake, angel cake, lady fingers) and cover them with a sweetened and/or flavored whipped mascarpone (half whipped cream and half mascarpone with powdered sugar and vanilla) and sweetened whipped cream. This simple but incredibly delicious dessert will have you soaking things in Batch 22 for the rest of your days.
We’re so busy creating new recipes for cocktails that our list of ideas for pairing Batch 22 aquavit with food has become rather backlogged. Still on the list to develop: Batch ceviche, Batch chutney, and Batch 22 gelato. What sort of recipe do you want to try? Send us your best ideas! We’d love to hear them!