A lifetime of living in Northern Minnesota, surrounded by statuesque natural blondes, I assumed that the stoic Lutheran nature of my neighbors meant that they were all buttoned down, proper, God-fearing sort of people with a weird affection for canned soup as a baking ingredient. And then I visited the American Swedish Institute for the first time and realized, I knew nothing. Some of those Swedes have some freaky deaky in their backgrounds. There was one room with some glass sculptures that I really can’t talk about here, but it’s safe to say I dissolved into pointing and cackling like a middle school student.
Another thing I didn’t know until recently: Fika, the restaurant inside the new ASI building has a full bar menu. Exquisite food, a glorious patio and perfect open sandwiches are served alongside several lovely, little cocktails.
The Inferno ($9) boasts a seductive mix of bitter spirits like fernet, vermouth, Drambuie, lightened up with a spritz of lemon and an Indeed Day Tripper. The fernet is tempered by a bit of sweet, a hit of tartness and light honied effervescence.
The drink was inspired by August Strindberg, who Fika’s general manager Emily Garber and cocktail creator described as, “A dark, foreboding, angsty kind of guy.” He was married three times to women who would become his muses and then… Well, he wrote a book about his third wife and marriage called, “The Inferno.” He was an intense fellow.
The resulting drink tastes like summer’s last gasp. It’s a bittersweet shandy that is ideal sipped outside on their green patio space, under the last few strands of golden sunlight, wrapped in a thick, soft sweater. This is the cocktail to have in hand as one season dissolves into another and we reflect on the good and the weird that has come to pass before us.