2 oz Gin <Napue>
3/4 oz Cloudberry Liqueur <Lignell & Piispanen>
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Ideally you would garnish with a cloudberry, but a raspberry would work too. Of course, when I made this, I had neither.
Scotland has Scotch, Mexico has Tequila and Mezcal, Japan has Sake. Finland has…well, uh..vodka I guess. There isn’t really a signature spirit as far as I can tell. But they are all about their berries. Raspberries, blueberries, lingonberries are everywhere. There was even one berry I never heard of before…the cloudberry. It kind of looks like s more bulbous orange raspberry. We picked up a container on our first trip to Market Square in Helsinki during vacation. The flavor is tart and a little sweet and kind of musty (in a good way) all at once. As I read about the various ways they’re used (in pastries, as jam, mixed with cream and sugar), I discovered they are made into a liqueur that is popular in Finland. I guess the Finns do kind of have a signature booze after all.
I grabbed a bottle from Lignell & Piispanen at duty free (along with Napue, a rye based Finnish gin) to take home. After eating the berries, I knew working this liqueur into a drink would be tricky. The underlying musk in particular was a real challenge. A few drinks worth of experimentation with various base spirits and other liqueurs yielded middling success. Nothing worth putting in the notebook. The bottle sat on my bar for a few weeks until last Friday, when I decided to give it another go.
Over complication was my mistake with the first round. I tried throwing too many bottles at this newcomer, trying to perfectly match all the nuances. The approach the second time around was all about simplicity. Thinking more about the unique flavor of cloudberries, there was an inescapable funk that supported the tart sweetness. And there was something oddly familiar about it. Finally it hit me…Maraschino liqueur! This cherry liqueur manages to bring a funkiness to every glass it ends up in. So what if I just used a drink with Maraschino liqueur as a template, and swapped in the cloudberry liqueur.
Once I headed down this road, there was only one way to go. The Aviation. The subject of my second ever post. With its simple recipe, this drink was a perfect way to showcase my new Finnish spirit in a familiar environment (even though I have a some creme d’Yvette, I decided to leave it out to give the cloudberry more room to breathe). I mixed up a glass, increasing the amount of cloudberry a bit to really make it shine through. Plus I doubled down on the Finland thing and used the Napue gin.
After the first sip, I was ready to declare the Flying Finn a great success (I couldn’t resist using the nickname of a few famous Finnish olympians since there are two Finnish spirits in this Aviation variation). The cloudberry funk felt right at home with gin and lemon juice. The mild spice from the rye in the Napue kept it in check just enough without over powering it. Citrus from the lemon complimented the more sour notes in the cloudberry. The whole drink was vaguely reminiscent of an Aviation, while managing to be something completely different altogether. Upping the cloudberry liqueur was the right move, because it really ended co-starring in the drink.
Bolstered by my new found success, I’m going to stick with the “treat the cloudberry like maraschino” plan for my next few drinks. Next up, a cloudberry version of the Red Hook. I can’t wait.