Did you know that IKEA sells booze? Interesting booze in tiny bottles, no less? I had no idea, but stumbled upon it on my last trip there and felt duty bound to bring some home to try.
Before I even opened the packet to taste the snaps, I was smitten by the sweet labels with their hand-drawn aesthetic, and the way the little bottles were arranged by colour. Then I had a look at the flavours, and was fascinated by the idea of a liqueur flavoured with caraway, anise and fennel, or St John’s Wort. I simply had to have them.
I armed myself with plenty of ice, soda water, lemonade and mint leaves. I purloined one of the G man’s fancy whisky glasses, one that sort of rocks about when you put it down. I must say that I think this is poor design for a glass intended to hold an alcoholic beverage, but there you go. Perhaps it is a test; if you can’t put it down without spilling it, you’ve had enough.
I worked through the liqueurs in alphabetical order, because you have to have a system. I poured about half of each bottle over a big ice cube, put in some lightly crushed mint leaves and then topped it up with whichever mixer seemed appropriate. For the most part this was lemonade, but I tried soda with the first one, which was simply called Abrodd – the translation was ‘vodka with a Swedish southernwood flavour’.
Now that I come to do some research, I find that southernwood is a relative of wormwood, which as we all know is the ingredient in absinthe that makes you see little green fairies, at best… I found no such after effects, I’m a little sad to report. Southernwood also seems to have many medicinal applications, which makes me feel quite good about buying and drinking more of it. It was a little bitter, and smelled very potent indeed, but tasted lighter than the aroma suggested. It was much like drinking vodka and soda, really, with a little aromatic edge.
Next up was the caraway, anise and fennel ‘aquavit’. I thought that kummin would translate as cumin, but there I was wrong. I’m not really disappointed by that, much as I enjoy cumin as a spice I don’t know that I want it in my whisky glass.
I found this drink very aromatic, as you might expect, but again a little bitter as I initially used soda to mix it. I enjoyed it more once I added a splash of lemonade, but it didn’t set my world on fire. I did enjoy trying to take photos of the bubbles in my drinks, though, albeit without a great level of success. I think this liqueur benefitted more from the sprig of mint that the southernwood one had, the flavours being more complimentary.
Next was the other ‘aquavit’: caraway, dill and citrus. I went straight for the lemonade for this one, deciding to play up the citrus.
Funnily enough, this was the one drink I didn’t enjoy or indeed finish. It was too strong in herbal flavours that even the lemonade couldn’t balance out. It is probably intended as a digestif, and those herbs are good for you, but I’ve never been a fan of any herb-based digestifs. I’ll stick to peppermint tea (if there isn’t any limoncello on the go, that is).
The next on the list was the bittersot ortsnaps – or ‘vodka with herbal flavour’ to you and I.
You may not have noticed, but these photos were taken in the fridge. It was the brightest place in the house, it made sense. Possibly the three glasses of snaps assisted with this making sense.
I was concerned about it being simply ‘herbal flavour’ because I hadn’t really enjoyed the last drink, but I didn’t want to mess with the system now that I’d begun so I ploughed on. I really liked the rich colour of this one, and the flavour was not as strong or herby as I’d feared. It was much sweeter too – some of the snaps didn’t contain any sugar, but this one had it listed as the second ingredient. The herbs will remain a mystery, having been listed only as ‘natural herbal aroma’. Hm. Herbs are good for you though, right? So this was practically a health drink.
I really couldn’t put my finger on the taste – a little aromatic, as with the others, a balance of bitterness and sweetness and something of a fruity flavour mixed in to boot – even above and beyond the lemonade, that is. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t rushing back to pour the other half into my glass.
Now it was the turn of the lemon and elderberry flavoured snaps, which was a floral and zesty drink to clear my palate after the secret and elusive mix of herbs it had just experienced.
These photos are also taken in the fridge. I would like to add at this point that the bottles are very tiny, I was only drinking half of them at a time and that it was the weekend. Also I did split the seven drinks over the course of two nights, so it’s not as bad as it seems, I’m just running it all together for the sake of continuity. Yup.
The lemon and elderberry snaps was very refreshing, more citrus than floral, but with enough elderberry flavour peeping through to make it more interesting than your standard vodka and lemonade. Interestingly, the ingredients list a colouring, but the drink is as clear and sparkling as a gin and tonic. Maybe this particular colouring is, in fact, an anti-colouring? With these drinks, you never can tell.
We begin to see the glass tilt dangerously inside the fridge, here, as we introduce possibly the most interesting flavour of all – St John’s Wort. I must say I was already feeling quite uplifted before I even took a sip, it must be good stuff…
The flavour here was quite subtle, not dissimilar to the southernwood drink in the beginning but a little sweeter. The percentage of flavouring to vodka in this snaps was the highest – it was 9% St John’s Wort, compared with 3% southernwood or 0.004% lemon and elderberry. This surely means that the medicinal benefits were the greatest with this drink. I’d be interested to try other liqueurs flavoured with St Johns Wort – or Joannesort, in Swedish – as I enjoyed the little taste I had, but feel like it could be well matched with other flavours to make something really special.
The last snaps was the one I was most looking forward to, and thought I would enjoy. It’s a ‘normal’ flavour by comparison to al the others, but it was nice to finish up with something familiar. Good old svartvinbar, which is otherwise known as blackcurrant. I mixed it with soda, because the snaps itself was already so sweet, and what a beautiful colour it turned out to be.
I left out the mint – I once had a drink with blackcurrant and menthol in it and it was like trying to drink a cough drop. Not good. The flavour was just as you’d expect – sweet and fruity with absolutely no herbs in it whatsoever. A delicious end to the snaps experiment.