Friday Happy Hour: The Norwegian Wood

We have in our bar a bottle of Akvavit, a strange, superb Scandinavian liquor that tastes, of all things, like caraway seed.  It’s fantastic and complex, but strongly reminiscent of rye bread – it’s not the easiest flavor to blend into a cocktail.  So, our bottle has been sitting there for a while, unused and unloved.  Until now!  A recent web search revealed this fantastic winter drink by an awesome Portland bartender, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, that does justice to this odd spirit and has quickly entered my rotation.

Read below for the full recipe!

Norwegian Wood

1 oz Akvavit
1 oz Apple Brandy or Calvados
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 Dash Angostura Bitters

Combine all the ingredients, stir well with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel and enjoy.


Scandinavians have been drinking Akvavit since at least the 16th Century as a tonic for all sorts of ailments, as its name – from the Latin aqua vītae or “water of live” – suggests.  Traditionally, Akvavit is consumed unadorned, paired with food or in a Christmas toast.  There aren’t many cocktail recipes that incorporate Akvavit, which is why I was so delighted to find Mr. Morgenthaler’s recipe.

Here’s what you’ll get: an enormously complex, bold, well-balanced (but boozy) drink.  I was honestly surprised at how good this drink was when I first tried it.  The Akvavit’s caraway seed flavor is a major component but doesn’t dominate the drink; it’s a little sweet and a little spicy and a lot herbal. It brings foremost to mind the warmth of a roaring fire on a frigid northern night.


Akvavit is the Scandanavian cousin of English dry gin.  Both start as a neutral spirit that is then distilled again with botanicals to impart flavor: juniper is the most prominent for gin, and caraway dominates Akvavit.  But just as gin is more than just juniper, Akvavit also carries such flavors as dill, fennel, coriander, clove, anise, and cardamom.

I don’t expect most people to have at home a bottle of Akvavit or Chartreuse (an amazingly complex liqueur made by French monks from a secret combination of herbs, spices, and flowers).  But here’s what I strongly suggest: that you pick up a bottle of one or both and give them a try.  Americans have been conditioned by hundreds of varieties of flavored vodkas to expect spirits to taste exactly like a thing, whether that thing is vanilla or raspberry or pears or bubble gum or espresso.  Instead, Akvavit and Chartreuse are big, bold, complex Old World Flavors that are as impossible to pin down as they are memorable.  If you haven’t already, branch out and try something new.  You might find yourself a convert.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

{happy weekend!}

Happy Friday everyone!  Spring is most definitely in the air here in DC – the sun is shining, the daffodils are blooming, trees and plants are starting to come back to life, and before I know it the cherry blossoms and magnolias will be here!  I can’t wait.  But in the meantime…

Photo Credit: Cinnamon

…a few links for your weekend!

This week on Oh So Beautiful Paper:

As usual, we have a fun cocktail coming up for you this afternoon, so check back a bit later for the recipe!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday!  xoxo

Sneak Peek – Martha Stewart Weddings Spring 2012 Issue!

We’re heading into the final week of February (already?!), which means that the Spring 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings is just around the corner!  Today we have a special sneak peek at the new issue, which is all about fabulous color for your wedding day!

For this issue, the editors have pulled together the ultimate A – Z guide to stationery – from printing methods to typography to all the details that go into your wedding invitation suite.  This is definitely a story that is best appreciated in print, so you’ll definitely want to track down a copy in your area for the full details.

Keep an eye out for the new issue on newsstands soon!

Photo Credits: Cover by Christopher Baker, story photographs by Johnny Miller, both for Martha Stewart Weddings Spring 2012

Paper Artwork – The Wheatfield

I’m a big fan of the hand lettered and illustrated cards from The Wheatfield – but today I’m particularly enamored with their selection of beautiful art prints.  Here are a few of my favorites!





Check out more over at The Wheatfield shop!

Photo Credits: The Wheatfield

Stationery A – Z: Congratulation Cards

Hi Everyone!  Today I’m thrilled to introduce a new column on OSBP.  I often hear from readers looking for greeting card recommendations, from birthday cards to thank you cards.  So every few weeks we’ll round up a few of our favorite cards within a specific category, starting today with congratulation cards!

I like to keep a handful of general cards on hand to congratulate friends and family on positive news.  But it can be hard to find the perfect congratulation card that isn’t specific to a particular type of occasion.  We’ve rounded up some beautiful congratulatory greeting cards that you can stockpile and be quick to send out when congratulations are in order!  – Tashia

Congratulations card from Humunuku

Big Congrats card by Parrott Design Studio

Congratulations Letterpress Notecard Set from In Haus Press

Cross Stitch card by Pistachio Press

 Circle Pattern Letterpress Card from Letterpress Delicacies

Circle Burst Congrats by Hammerpress (left); Circle Pattern card from Letterpress Delicacies (right)

Modern Letterpress Congratulations card by Paisley Dog Press

 Wood Type Congratulations card by Papillon Press

{images via their respective sources}

*Pistachio Press and Parrott Design Studio are sponsors of Oh So Beautiful Paper