Before we present cocktail recipes, we need to first acknowledge the traditional approach to drinking aquavit, and explain that the moments when aquavit really shines are those when it’s nicely paired with a lovely meal.

Tradition was for aquavit to be enjoyed straight, served in cordial glasses as an aperitif to begin the meal and as a digestif to cap off the dining. It would be paired with a beer, usually one lighter in flavor and color such as a pilsner or lager so as not to interfere with the rest of the occasion.


We’ve enlisted Nicholas Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz, the Minneapolis- and Milwaukee-based duo behind Bittercube bitters, to create a selection of special Gamle Ode cocktails. Feel more comfortable in the hands of a professional? Try them at Eat Street Social at 26th and Nicollet in Minneapolis.

Cocktails at Bars

As we mentioned above, Eat Street Social in Minneapolis is the best place to find the biggest variety of Gamle Ode cocktails, but there are other enterprising bartenders putting Gamle Ode cocktails on their menus. Here are a few we’ve seen:

  • Alkaline Trio (Marvel Bar, Minneapolis): Gamle Ode Celebration Aquavit, sodium bicarbonate, Aperol, Ramazotti.
  • Martinus & the Cold Beggar (Constantine, Minneapolis): Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit, Tattersall Gin, dry vermouth, fino sherry, cumin syrup, sarsaparilla bitters.
  • Gamle Ode Fashioned (Eat Street Social, Minneapolis): Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit, Ledaig single-malt scotch rosemary honey syrup, Bittercube Orange Bitters.
  • Björk’s Fjords (Merchant, Madison, Wisc.): Death’s Door Gin, Tomato Infused Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit, lemon, thyme-caraway syrup, Bittercube orange bitters
  • Dill Collins (by bartender Jacob Grier, Portland, Oregon): Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit, lemon, sugar, soda, rocks
  • Panty Dropper (Parlour, Minneapolis): Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit, lemon, Hana Hou Hou Shu sparkling sake, orange bitters
  • Pickle in the Middle (Parlour, Minneapolis): Bombay Sapphire, GamleOde Dill Aquavit, Lillet Blanc, lemon, salt solution

Food pairings

In Scandinavia, a long lunch or dinner with many small courses might take hours. Thus the sensible Scandinavians limited their drinking to small glasses of aquavit spaced out throughout the evening and the lighter beers were used to fill the gaps, while not getting one tipsy or filling you up before dessert.

A Danish meal might consist of smørrebrød, or small open-faced sandwiches. There are as many different ways to present smørrebrød as there are people enjoying it. But I’ll go out on a limb and note that the food was served in courses, usually the fish first, then meats, then cheeses, leading eventually to cakes and coffee.

These smørrebrød foods tend to be preserved — fish such as herring, meats such as sausage, and cheese, a great form of keeping milk around for a long time in a healthy way. The flavors can be strong, and the aftertaste maybe a bit oily, which brings us to aquavit. Water and beer cannot stand up to this food flavor-wise and are overwhelmed. And aquavit can cleanse the palate to prepare it for the upcoming course of powerful flavors and textures.

Want specifics? Let us send you to some experts.