DIFFERENT BY DESIGN
We believe The Spirit of Aquavit is an enduring symbol of hospitality that should be a fixture at every good bar. Drawing inspiration from our collective past and the natural beauty surrounding us, our goal is celebrate the rich history of Aquavit and challenge perceptions of where and how it can be made while remaining authentic.
OUR APPROACH MAY BE DIFFERENT, BUT THE OUTCOME IS TIMELESS.
norden: A word commonly understood throughout Scandinavia, means northern or north.
For us it symbolizes our sense of place and pays homage to the birthplace of Aquavit. While the North of Michigan may vary from that of our ancestors, the enduring spirit of discovery and hard work remains the same.
With these notions embedded in our minds, we explored regional expressions of Aquavit throughout Scandinavia, The United States, and beyond to gain a connection deeper than any books or stories from our ancestors could provide. This critical period helped us assemble new ideas of what Aquavit could be and ultimately fueled a desire to bring them to life.
Never content with a simple American-Made replica, we wished to craft an inspired caraway-forward Aquavit enhanced by a unique blend of botanicals from our own backyard and around the world. We envisioned a quintessential cocktail ingredient, firmly anchored in tradition— it had to be balanced, complex, and above all else, exceptional on its own.
A departure from the industrial mainstream, our process would be informed by the hands-on methods of small-batch botanical spirits pioneers. Honest and accountable, it would be a resounding call to a time when quality was achieved through innovation, attention to detail, and a life-long dedication to one’s craft.
BALANCED, COMPLEX…AND EXCEPTIONAL, ALL ON ITS OWN
It would take years of researching, traveling, sampling, blending, mixing, drinking, and talking until the sun came up before our vision was realized. Countless experimentations with botanical combinations during arduous trial runs eventually landed 10 defining botanicals into our recipe. From there we honed the details of our distillation techniques and set standards we could reproduce for generations to come. What we share today is a culmination of these efforts.
Meticulously distilled in an alembic copper-pot with 100% organic mid-west grain spirits, pure Michigan water, caraway, and hand-selected botanicals, NORDEN AQUAVIT was awarded DOUBLE GOLD—BEST AQUAVIT at the renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
MEET THE FOUNDERS
Summer Ransom-Cleveland is a creative powerhouse and lifelong Michigander. After graduating with a BA in Journalism she went on to spend over 20 years in retail merchandising, most recently as Visual-Director for a multi-national lifestyle brand. Through her work She’s had the opportunity to travel to nearly every state in America. During time spent away from home she began to foster a deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by her Ancestors when they immigrated to America and looked for ways she could creatively honor her heritage. She is our direct link to all things Scandinavian and has Aquavit in her blood. Her Grandparents hail from Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden!
Distiller, Robyn Cleveland was raised in Berkeley, California. Hungry for a career in the arts, he moved to Brooklyn, New York where he ended up spending his early 20’s bartending. It wouldn’t take long for hospitality to become his calling and creating experiences his art-form.
Upon meeting Summer and moving to Michigan he helped found the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild-Detroit Chapter and served as its first President. Over the course of 14 years behind the bar he’s had the opportunity to visit and study at distilleries all over the world. The experiences of these trips soon developed into a passion for traditional spirits and a desire to share their stories. His first taste of Aquavit came during a 3 week trip to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2003. It’s safe to say he’s been hooked ever since.
THE SPIRIT OF AQUAVIT
A BOTANICAL SPIRIT ORIGINALLY FROM THE NORDICS
A storied element of Scandinavian culture, Aquavit has roots reaching back well over 500 years. First conceived as medicine then later becoming a symbol of the region during times of celebration, its legacy is as widespread and well-traveled as the people
who first conceived it.
Today Aquavit can be made anywhere in the world and is chiefly defined by the botanicals used to flavor it. European Commission legislation (that we follow) states the dominant flavor MUST come from caraway or dill through distillation.
While earlier evidence of adding herbs and spices to distilled spirits for medicinal use exists in Scandinavia, the first written reference to AQUAVIT appeared in 1531.
Earning its name from the Latin AQUA-VITAE, meaning “water of life” the elixir was considered a “cure-all” in its early years, believed to relieve ailments of nearly any kind. Over time the noble spirit became more refined and evolved into a refreshing and revered staple within the region.
Aquavit is still regarded highly today for its ability to aid in the digestion of rich foods and no traditional Scandinavian lunch, Midsummer party, or Holiday get-together is complete without it.