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Aquavit is a caraway-flavored spirit long popular in Scandinavia, where it originated (aquavit literally translates to “water of life”). Yet it’s never exactly been a liquor of choice here in the states. But here comes Norden Aquavit, a nearly year-old brand distilled right here in Detroit by longtime bartender and Berkeley, California native Robyn Cleveland.

I met Cleveland last weekend at a midsommar Swedish dinner at Frame in Hazel Park put on by chef Jill Vedaa, of Salt in Cleveland, no less. It featured four different cocktails made with Norden Aquavit.

Today, Cleveland dropped by the studio with a bottle of Norden to sample and to discuss the company and his work launching a startup aquavit brand from Detroit. Norden Aquavit drinks like a very smooth, non-juniper-y gin, with notes of caraway, of course, but also the sweetness of dill and a licorice/anise finish. We drank it neat — traditionally it’s enjoyed slightly chilled — but it was subtle and not hot. And yes, we discuss recipes

Give the episode a listen in the player above.

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