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Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit that’s worth seeking out! Here’s more about this caraway-flavored liquor and how to use it in cocktails.

Aquavit cocktails

Here’s a Scandinavian spirit that’s worth seeking out: Aquavit! This neutral distilled liquor is a bit like gin, but it’s flavored with caraway and dill instead of juniper. It makes for a distinctive, savory and herbal finish that’s unlike any other spirit! It’s great for drinking straight up, but even more fun in cocktails (Nordic Sidecar? Bjorn Collins? Yes please!).

What is Aquavit?

Aquavit or Akvavit is a distilled spirit (like gin or vodka) that’s been produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century. It’s flavored with herbs and spices, primarily caraway and/or dill. Aquavit is the national spirit of Scandinavia, so it’s part of meals and culture in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Most aquavit is unaged, so it’s clear in color and straightforward in flavor, with an herbal punch. But much of the aquavit made in Norway is aged in sherry casks, which makes it golden in color and gives more nuance and sophistication to the flavor. (If you can find it, we recommend aged aquavit!)

What does aquavit taste like?

Unaged aquavit has a neutral flavor and a herbal, caraway finish: think of it like a less-floral version of gin. Aged aquavit has notes of vanilla and oak to compliment the caraway and other herbs.

How much alcohol is in Aquavit? It is 42 to 45% ABV (alcohol by volume), so it has an alcohol content similar to vodka and gin.

Are there any Aquavit substitutes? Aquavit is similar to gin, but its flavor profile is more savory with caraway as the star instead of juniper. There’s really nothing like the real thing!

Why we like it

Aquavit is a unique spirit that’s worth seeking out. If you can find it, go for aged aquavit: the depth in flavor is much deeper and more nuanced than unaged. Aquavit is often drunk straight, but we like it in cocktails like the Nordic Sidecar or an Aquavit and Tonic (below).

How much does it cost?

Compared to other liquors, Aquavit is mid-priced. A 750 ml bottle costs about $25 to $30.

You can drink it straight up, room temperature or chilled, but it’s also great in cocktails! Again, think of it as a savory gin or an herbal vodka. Here are a few Aquavit cocktails to try:

Aquavit Cocktails

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Aquavit cocktails

Quick Guide to Aquavit & Cocktails

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit that’s worth seeking out! Here’s three ideas of how to use it in cocktails.



For the Nordic sidecar

  • 2 ounces aquavit
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • For the garnish: dill sprig, lemon peel

For the Aquivit and tonic

  • 2 ounces aquavit
  • 4 ounces tonic water
  • Dill sprigs and lemon wedges, for the garnish

For the Bjorn Collins

  • 2 ounces aquavit
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • ½ cup soda water
  • Cocktail cherry and lemon wheel, to garnish


  1. For the Nordic Sidecar: Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice and shake until cold. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass and garnish with dill and a lemon peel.
  2. For the Aquavit and Tonic: Add lots of ice to a large cocktail or wine glass and stir to chill the glass. Drain any melted water. Pour in the aquavit. Add the garnishes. Pour the tonic water onto a bar spoon into the glass (to increase the bubbles). Stir once and serve.
  3. For the Bjorn Collins: Add the aquavit, syrup and lemon juice to an ice filled glass, and top off the glass with soda water. Garnish with a lemon wheel and cocktail cherry.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Aquavit, Aquavit cocktails

More cocktail guides

Need more liquor guides? We’ve got them! Here’s all you need to know about home bartending:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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