Come Try Our House-Infused Aquavit at Red Rooster Tonight

A few weeks ago, we showed you how to make your own aquavit, a traditional Swedish infused vodka, right at home. Red Rooster's bar director Christian Post, helped us with this recipe and showed us step-by-step how to prepare this cherished Scandinavian spirit.

For those of you that have followed along with us and tried this recipe at home, we have an update on our aquavit progress.  After three weeks, our infusion process is complete with all three flavors (lemon, dill, and horseradish) set well into our vodka.

We first tasted our aquavit to see if the flavors were where we wanted them, that one ingredient didn't overpower the others. Since our measures of each ingredient was pretty balanced, our aquavit came out just as we wanted- with the first taste of horseradish followed by the citric taste of lemon and dill. Satisfied with our final outcome, we took our jar of aquavit into the kitchen to strain.

You then simply strain the aquavit and then using an automatic funnel, place it back into your recycled vodka bottles for storage.

Christian advises storing the bottles in the refrigerator and even the freezer to serve the aquavit ice cold later on. Because of the alcohol content , the aquavit will not freeze, although it might thicken a bit. Christian suggests to serve this as a shot for your guests, as Red Rooster will do tonight for all those joining us for our "Krawfish + Kraftor Party."

So stop by the Rooster tonight and join us for our special 4-course Crayfish-inspired menu and ask for a complimentary house-infused aquavit shot!

Hope to see you all there!

Photos: Cyndi Amaya

The Swedish Crayfish Party: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

As you may know by now, Red Rooster is hosting a special "Krawfish + Kraftor Party" on August 15th to celebrate the start of crayfish season in Sweden. The night will be filled with plenty of crayfish, beer, and aquavit and the event is not to be missed. But with our party falling right in the middle of Harlem Week (or better said, Harlem month) and our Harlem Week Menu, you may be wondering why have a crayfish party at all? Since the Swedish Crayfish Party is so important to the Scandinavian tradition, we wanted to share with you the meaning of this beloved tradition and give an insight to our first crayfish party at Red Rooster.

Who: Swedes throughout the country celebrate it in the beginning of August, at the start of crayfish season. Since the Swedes love their summers, the crayfish party is a great excuse to stay outside and enjoy this joyous event with all of the family and friends. Warning: if you find yourself in a crayfish party, you will be asked to wear a crayfish party hat and bib! Not very flattering for most people!

What: A festive foodie party where Swedes enjoy home-infused aquavit, beer, and of course- tons of boiled crayfish! To get its unique Scandinavian flavoring, the crayfish is boiled in water with lots of salt, a little sugar, beer, and flowering dill. The flowering, or crown, dill is dill that is harvested after blossoming, which has a very distinct flavor compared to fresh dill. The crayfish is also served alongside boiled potatoes, bread, and cheese.  Also the decorations at the party are adorable, to say the least! Smiling-face lanterns are hung outside, as well as crayfish-themed table cloths and cutlery.

When: Traditionally, the first crayfish party is held right at the beginning of crayfish season during the first week of August. Crayfish season starts on the first Wednesday of August. Crayfish are always caught at night, after it gets dark. So that first Wednesday that crayfish are caught leads into the first crayfish party the next day on Thursday, after the first catch is cooked.

Why: The traditional Swedish Crayfish Party first originated from a restriction in Sweden on the crayfish fishing season. Swedes were consuming so much crayfish that the crayfish population was being depleted in the area. Hence, there was a restriction put on the season to just a period of a couple of months, starting in August. When the season finally came around, the Swedes were so elated that crayfish parties started popping up everywhere.

Where: Since crayfish is so popular in Scandinavia, crayfish parties can be found all throughout Sweden and in a few other Scandinavian countries. We've even brought the crayfish party here to NYC and are hosting our first crayfish party at Red Rooster Harlem. For more information of our special event, click here.

We hope you all join us on August 15th at our "Krawfish + Kraftor Party." It should be one great Swedish party!

Photos: 1: Robert Young 2: Andrew Crookston

How Much Chef Charlie Trotter Means To Me As A Chef And Colleague

Chef Charlie Trotter raised the bar for American cuisine. After reading the feature in today's New York Times Dining Section on Chef Trotter, I wanted to share my experiences with him, and how much he means to me as a chef and colleague. Chef Trotter was one of the first chefs that hooked me up. He always opened the door for Aquavit interns, and he would come to Aquavit with his chefs. He wasn't just a mentor to me, he was a mentor of US food.

I remember being in Switzerland, or in France, and seeing his first cookbook - I'd never seen a cookbook like that coming out of the US. I'd bet that almost every chef has a Trotter book at home.

Here are five things Chef Charlie Trotter gave me:

1. An introduction to the ingenious chef, and Trotter's fellow game-changer, Ferran Adria.

2. Arun's - an amazing Thai restaurant in Chicago.

3. Chef Trotter introduced me to so many ingredients, Buddha's Hand and Yuzu, to name two essentials.

4. Mattias Merges, the former Chef de Cuisine at Charlie Trotter's, is one of the best cooks I've ever cooked with.

5. Reggie Watkins, the sous chef at Charlie Trotter's, whips everyone into shape. He was the first employee and is a formidable and impressive character.

We cannot forget what this game-changing chef has done for fine dining in America. I look up to him and always appreciate his contribution to the world of food.

Five Great Drinks And Countries That Make Them

Many countries have a beverage associated with them.  Here are five great spirits or cocktails and the countries that make them. * Sake and Japan: Although many Americans associate Japan with sushi, the growing popularity of sake in the United States is giving spicy tuna rolls some competition. Brewed from rice, sake is made in a complex fermentation process. Along with yeast, a special mold called koji transforms mashed rice into alcohol. Complex fruit flavors and a smooth taste make sake a great alternative to wine or beer at dinner.

* Aquavit and Sweden: Aquavit is one of my favorite drinks. Produced all across Scandinavia, aquavit is usually made from potatoes or grain. Typically, aquavit is flavored with caraway seeds, but it can be flavored with anything. Check out my citrus infused vodka recipe for an aquavit-style drink you can make at home.

* Sangria and Spain: As winter turns into spring, sangria will once again begin appearing on restaurant menus and at dinner parties. Originally from Spain, sangria is made with red wine, fruit, juice, spices, and sometimes a stronger spirit. While Americans mainly drink sangria in spring and summer, in some parts of Spain sangria is consumed all year. I like to offer my guests sangria as soon as the weather turns warm.

* Schnapps and Austria: But while temperatures remain below freezing, Austrian schnapps are a wonderful after dinner drink. Usually made from fruit juice, the different type of fruit used determines the overall taste, ranging from peach to cherry. With a high alcohol content and intense taste, schnapps are perfect for February sipping.

* Dark 'n' Stormy and Bermuda: To remember summer breezes on dark winter nights, try my Dark 'n' Stormy recipe. Originally from Bermuda, the drink is made of rum and ginger beer. With so many unique rums and ginger beers available in American supermarkets, it's possible to make a spectacular Dark 'n' Stormy at home.

What are your favorite drinks from around the world?