Questions of Travel

an aquavit martini with two olives against an art deco pineapple patterned background

Arriving at a Cocktail Without Arriving

Some years ago, I took a trip to the Black Forest in Germany. In planning, I’d envisioned it as a full-blown Brothers Grimm fantasyland of dark walds, half-timbered houses, and troll-guarded bridges. Mind you, this is the same person who, when told as a child that we were going to White Plains, imagined infinite sparkling expanses glazed in virgin snow. You can see where this is leading. The reality was more like a heavily logged timeshare community in rural Pennsylvania with only slightly better beer. I asked myself, as Elizabeth Bishop does in her poem, “Questions of Travel,” “Should we have stayed home and thought of here?”

For this issue, I thought I’d create a cocktail with ingredients from different parts of the world. For the base, I’d used aquavit washed with coconut oil, a process whereby spirit and fat are shaken to infuse, then allowed to separate, leaving a textural, exotically essenced final product. Then I added roasted pineapple syrup, lemon juice, and pandan. I thought this sounded genius. I could taste it in my head. It’s a shame that the reality didn’t match the idea.

The good news is that I was able to salvage something. It turns out that Castelvetrano olives, stuffed with roasted pineapple, are remarkably delicious. I’ll wager that in the future, perhaps based on this article alone pineapple-stuffed olives will surpass pimento-, and even blue cheese–stuffed olives in popularity. Used in a martini, with a base of aquavit and golden Spanish vermouth, it’s a recipe that I am proud to share. And while it was a circuitous journey to arrive here, it was certainly worthwhile. Isn’t that the pleasure of travel, after all?

Photo Illustration by Sera Lione

Questions of Travel



2 ounces Linie Aquavit
1 ounce Atxa Blanco-Vermouth
1 skewered roasted pineapple-stuffed Castelvetrano olive


Combine aquavit and vermouth in a glass mixing vessel. Add ice and stir until chilled and dilute. Strain into a chilled cocktail class and garnish with a roasted-pineapple-stuffed olive.

*Deconstruct a pineapple by removing the skin and coring it. Cut the fruit into manageable pieces (appropriate for olive stuffing) and coat in brown sugar. Roast in a preheated oven, set to 400°F, for 20 minutes or so. Allow to cool, and stuff into a pitted Castelvetrano olive.