I have always been a winter person. I’ve been an avid cross–country skier for many years, coaching and teaching the sport in the U.S. and abroad. My love of Nordic skiing took me, naturally, to Scandinavia. One of the things I most enjoyed coaching in Iceland was a traditional smørrebrød dinner given by Danish friends, accompanied by a bottle of dill aquavit.
Of course I had never experienced dill aquavit before and I found that it paired well with the ambiance of the evening. It did not dominate, but calmly enhanced the food and pleasant conversation. It added a quiet elegance without being showy… I might have actually felt dignified, but that was more likely due to the Danes than the drink.
When I returned to Minnesota, I began to plan a similar dinner with my family. Lo and behold, dill aquavit wasn’t found around here. Years went by, and dill aquavit did not appear on the shelves. My memories of the warm atmosphere enjoyed with the dill aquavit stayed with me, and I decided to take action.
With a well–balanced, flavorful recipe for dill aquavit in hand, I contacted a terrific local micro–distillery (45th Parallel) and created a business that will serve it up to our country and, maybe one day, the world. Whether you’re of Scandinavian heritage or simply a connoisseur of different and interesting drinks, welcome!
Old ode: A tribute to Scandinavia, community, and celebration
Why Gamle Ode? This “old ode” is my way of honoring the people who introduced me to aquavit and smørrebrød, and my general debt of gratitude to all Scandinavians–from Iceland to Denmark, with touches of Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Gamle Ode is an ode in part to the actual beverage, but also to the cultural experience and the richness of celebration with family and friends who share these aquavit occasions. In short, to the heartfelt moment that accompanies the word: Skål, Skál, Kippis, Skol, Skaal, Skal, Cheers!
I hope you will enjoy this unique beverage as much as my friends and I do. Share it with your crowd and treat yourself to your own version of a Scandinavian smørrebrød. These moments–shared with dignity and comfort, culture and togetherness–are the feelings I enjoyed that evening in Iceland and wish to share with you now.
Dill aquavit pairs well with smoked and preserved fish and meats, and rich seafood such as crab and lobster. Being a northland-based tradition where vegetable–growing seasons were short, surviving the winter meant preserved meats and fish were essential to life. Today, we have the luxury of foods that our traditions are still catching up; new pairings are always welcome!