‘a formidable beverage, called coffee-punch’

When you go searching on the web for Danish coffee-punch recipes (as you do), Google tends to come up with rather Christmassy recipes involving warm port, cinnamon and rum added to a shot of coffee. All very cosy and delicious, but I suspect not the kind of thing a Danish smacksman of yesteryear would have sought out in his local inn after a hard day’s trawl in the fjord on September 28.

Club member Kate Mayfield gets closer to the mark, I think, putting this recipe our way (feel free, btw, to become a Member yourself and chip in at any time):

Here’s a recipe from the artist, the kiteflier, the man, the Dane, who was Jørgen Møller Hansen.

Jørgen explained the formula for the Kaffe-punch; place a kroner in the cup, add coffee until you can’t see the coin, then add schnapps until you can see the coin again.

Ahoy!

Ahoy, indeed, Kate. I had not heard of Jørgen Møller Hansen before, and was sad to hear that he had died recently. But, boy, what a lot of love there is for him out there, especially amongst the kite-flying community. This, for example, from http://www.drachen.org/blog/farewell-j%C3%B8rgen-m%C3%B8ller-hansen :

His kites you may well know; the apparently simple, almost minimalist graphics based on white, black or grey with the inclusion of a single colour, the pattern chopped and rearranged to create balance and tension. Some designs could be gently decorative, like the patterns in drapery painted by Matisse; others could be bold and almost aggressive, the diagonal lines slashing boldly from left to right, cut and rearranged like collage in a Russian constructivist composition. They were undoubtedly some of the most ambitious attempts at a pure, fine-art approach to kite design; the kite was Jørgen’s canvas, the sky his gallery wall.

A key thing to note about Jørgen, for our purposes, is that he lived in Aarhus, which was the schnapps capital of Denmark in the early 1900s. Northern Jutland generally is ‘schnapps central’. Or rather it is *akvavit* central, since that is basically what Scandinavian schnapps is.

The best-selling brand in Denmark is called Aalborg Tafel Akvavit, although it’s quite strong stuff flavour-wise to put in your coffee. A clearer, less overpowering option might be Brøndums. I suspect, however, our Danish smacksmen didn’t bother buying their hooch. They would have made their own.

640px-Flickr_-_cyclonebill_-_Mandelsnaps,_snaps_med_hasselnødder,_julesnaps,_dildakvavit_og_lakridssnaps

“Flickr – cyclonebill – Mandelsnaps, snaps med hasselnødder, julesnaps, dildakvavit og lakridssnaps” by cyclonebill – Mandelsnaps, snaps med hasselnødder, julesnaps, dildakvavit og lakridssnaps. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a fine tradition in this part of the world of distilling your own grain alcohol (although illegal these days), and then flavouring it with local herbs, flowers and berries. When it’s not called aquavit its also called ‘bjesk’.

Basically you souse your alcohol base in whatever’s at hand, whether it be dill or caraway, fennel, wormwood or pretty much anything that you can find in your local hedgerow or on the beach. If you have the patience you can then mature it in oak barrels – the Norwegians bother to sail it to East Asia and back just to ensure a distinct flavour. The more direct approach is to let the herbs soak in for a week so, and then get drinking. What you’re getting is a drink that is quite literally a distillation of your local area and season.

Davies and Carruthers should be knocking back the taste of Satrup in a glass, therefore – and also I suspect singing short local drinking songs or ‘snapsvisa‘ with every  shot.

“A typical snapsvisa is a short, vigorous song; its lyrics usually tell of the delicacy and glory of the drink, or of the singer’s craving for snaps. Snapsvisor are short, bright, and easy to learn.”

Here’s an example of a slightly fancy one sung by Benny from Abba, with his mates in the BAO (Benny Andersson Orchestra):

September 28 is looking like a highly convivial affair in the inn at Satrup. I’m looking forward to it when we get out there in the autumn. I’m not looking forward to the day after.  Carruthers doesn’t talk about having a hangover when he goes sailing in a ‘heavy thresh’ the next day in the Augustenborg Fjord, but you can bet your bottom kroner he had one.

“Skål!”

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