Food of Iceland: Icelandic Liquorice Booze - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Food of Iceland: Icelandic Liquorice Booze

Food of Iceland: Icelandic Liquorice Booze

Published August 23, 2019

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A sunny day of camping turned ugly due to a flavour still lingering in my darkest nightmares. I took a swig of what I understood to be an innocent, liquorice flavoured schnapps called Tópas. Needless to say, I was bewildered by the only logical conclusion responsible for the concoction. Someone had mixed their booze and their mouthwash for the sake of saving some packing space for the trip. As an enthusiast of multitasking and efficiency, I could have let this go. However my so-called friend went on to inform me that in fact, this spirit is a purposeful combination of herbs and strong, beloved Icelandic liquorice.

“Who can truly deny the star-quality of a plant that can both flavour cigarettes and serve as a laxative?”

Liquorice is a versatile root, I’ll give it that. Who can truly deny the star-quality of a plant that can both flavour cigarettes and serve as a laxative? Icelanders have long been cultivating liquorice since the first settlers, and given import restrictions following the Great Depression, it was the only candy flavour till the 90s. That is unless you rolled the dice with an American soldier to smuggle you a bag of M&M’s and let yourself finally see some colour.

As an American myself, my taste-buds recognise a milder liquorice flavour that actually derives from star anise rather than true liquorice root. Perhaps I’m just recovering from the lie I’ve been living, or maybe it’s just a preference to spit out my toothpaste. Nonetheless, if you’re looking to freshen up while on a night out, look no further than a shot of Tópas.

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