Raise your glass! After a couple years of dreaming and working and fretting, The Minne Stuga is finished (mostly) and open for rental. Getting there, to the finish line, was one of the harder things we’ve done. In the thick of it, I kept recalling a board book we often read Hal and now Linnie—Going on a Bear Hunt. “We can’t go over it,” they say at the sight of every obstacle. “We can’t go under it. Oh no, we’ve got to go through it. Stumble trip! Stumble trip!” Those words turned into wisdom because, after so many obstacles during this project, I wanted out. I couldn’t see a way through the fog and the brush and the mud and all the details I’ll leave offline. But, as Adele says—hello from the other side. I’m still a little disoriented, but I think we’ve made it through. Either way, let’s cheers with a Northern Sidecar.
My new favorite cocktail is made with Aquavit (pronounced aqua-veet). I’m not sure when I first had this Scandinavian Spirit. Was it the bright blue Fjord Fiesta cocktail from down the street at Hi-Lo Diner (see recipe here)? Or was it a gifted bottle from Emily Vikre of Vikre Distillery? Either way, my first taste wasn’t until my early 30s. It was love at first sip. And when I was searching for a signature cocktail for The Minne Stuga, a cabin in Minnesota with heavy Nordic influence, I knew it had to have Aquavit in it.
And after sipping on a couple of Emily’s Northern Sidecars from her book, Camp Cocktails, I emailed her and asked her if it would be OK to declare this the official cocktail for The Minne Stuga—the recipe we send each guest to shake up while they stay. She said yes. Take a sip and you’ll soon see why I fell in love. It’s so simple to make but tastes as if it was freshly shaken by a mixologist, which comes as no surprise. Emily and her husband, Joel, created Vikre Distillery and Frenchie Cocktails (which were served at The Nordic Winter Party).
What is a Northern Sidecar?
A Northern Sidecar is Emily’s riff on the Sidecar, which is a classic made from cognac, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup. In place of the cognac, she uses their Voyageur Aquavit, aged in cognac barrels. For the orange liqueur, Emily calls out Cointreau. I’ve been a big fan of Dry Curacao lately, so I used that instead. I also swapped the simple syrup for maple syrup, since I pack it in the cooler to make the fluffy multigrain pancake mix at the cabin.
If this Northern Sidecar has to be something, it’s a Nordic Margarita, made with lemon instead of lime, the same ole really good orange liqueur, warmed by hints of cardamom and caraway from the Aquavit, and sweetened with maple. Or maybe I’m still too disoriented to tell the difference. Either way—cheers!
Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve. Top with a thin lemon wheel or spiral of lemon peel.
Add a sprig of rosemary for extra aroma and northwoods feels.
Tip: I once learned from Emily to use good ice. You know, ice made with the same water that you like to drink. Ice, whether shaken or floating in a drink, lends its flavor profile to the drink. So if the ice tastes like freezer burn, so will your drink.
I’m partial to Vikre Distillery since it’s made in Minnesota and I know the makers. But cross my heart, their stuff is the best. Click here to buy near you. (No, this is not sponsored.)