Split Rock Cocktail

Typically we come up with a drink recipe and then create some original artwork to illustrate the cocktail. This time we are working in reverse. The watercolor of Split Rock Lighthouse was painted a number of years ago by the artist member of this partnership. It’s a painting we’ve always loved and it hangs in our dining room. For our Split Rock Cocktail we are translating the colors of the rocks, sky and water into purple basil, blueberry and honey (along with alcohol of course - but more on that later).

Split Rock is located on Lake Superior - north of Duluth. According to the Minnesota Historical Society; “A November gale that wrecked nearly 30 ships in 1905 prompted this rugged landmark's construction. When the U.S. Lighthouse Service completed Split Rock Light Station in 1910, it soon became one of Minnesota's best known destinations… with a drama-filled history and breathtaking Lake Superior views.” Split Rock Lighthouse is worth the trip, but we suggest you try to get there in the summer (also know as "July" in Duluth). Even is late spring, it can be breathtaking in more than one way thanks to the cold wind blowing off the lake.

Minnesota has a large population of citizens of Norwegian heritage, so we decided that we ought to use Aquavit in our Split Rock Cocktail - specifically, Linie. This Norwegian spirit has a famously unique production process in which it is stored in sherry casks and aged at sea as it travels from Norway to Australia and back, crossing the equatorial line (or "Linie") twice. Aquavit has a herbal flavor that we balance with vodka. Interestingly, the word aquavit is derived from the Latin aqua vitae "water of life" and vodka derived from the Russian voda "water" - so these liquors seem to really belong in a cocktail based on a watercolor painting of a lighthouse above a Great Lake.

Of course, we serve the Split Rock on the rocks in a short (old-fashioned) glass. To be even more literal, we tried splitting the rock (aka large ice cube) and it made for a nice effect.

We think we’ve created a cocktail worthy of the Split Rock Lighthouse. We hope you agree.


Split Rock Cocktail

1 ounce Linie Aquavit
1 ounce vodka
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce honey syrup (see recipe below)
4-5 leaves fresh purple basil
8 fresh blueberries

Muddle basil, blueberries, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add honey syrup, aquavit, vodka and ice cubes - shake well. Strain through a mesh strainer into an old-fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with purple basil.

Split Rock Cocktail ingredients

Honey Syrup

1/2 cup wildflower honey
1/2 cup water

Heat water and honey until honey melts. Stir, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Bottle and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

The cocktail with a "split" ice cube "rock"

Enjoying the cocktail and our original artwork

Watercolor sketch of Split Rock Lighthouse - done as a study for the painting


A photo we took of Split Rock Lighthouse in April

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