Scandinavian aquavit (also spelled "akvavit") seems like such an unusual spirit, flavored with caraway and sometimes dill. It always makes me think I'm drinking food garnish.
One of the most popular export brands of aquavit, Linie, further ups the unusual factor by putting their aquavit in ex-sherry barrels aboard ships that cross the equator twice before they bottle it back in Oslo. I don't know if the particular path the spirit takes matters but aging in barrels would certainly help mellow it out during its long voyage.
Aquavit is not used in cocktails very often as it tends to dominate the drinks it is in, but I don't mind when that happens because I love the caraway flavor. It's unmissable in the Gin Junkie, a cocktail I found in the gin recipe book All the Gin Joints. The drink was created by Aleko Lilly of Barrio Capitol Hill in Seattle.
I've never been to the bar but I liked the drink a lot when I made it at home. The caraway dominates but works with the gin, and the elderflower liqueur provides a nice sweet floral note in the background. To me it tastes less of cold Scandinavian nights and more of coming summer days.
By Aleko Lilly
1.5 fl. oz. Gin
.5 fl. oz. Linie Aquavit
.25 fl. oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
.25 fl. oz. Agave Nectar/Syrup
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Lemon Peel for Garnish
Combine gin, aquavit, elderflower liqueur, agave syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir to chill and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel over surface to express oils and drop into the cocktail.