Published January 17, 2017
For those who like to tipple, but want to enjoy something from a local distillery, it can be a challenge finding pubs and bars that aren’t completely filled with the big, corporate brands. Iceland has always had an interesting relationship with alcohol. Not only how it’s made or brought here, but also how it’s consumed.
Imagine a time before beer was legalized March 1, 1989. Before then, under cover of darkness or at least privacy, Icelanders would pour Brennivín, Iceland’s national Akvavít, into non-alcoholic beer to give it the necessary social lubricant and intoxicating properties.
Nowadays, in a more modern and, arguably, more just and good era, Iceland is home to several local distilleries with a wide range of unique and interesting spirits. Islenski Barinn (Icelandic Bar) has every spirit available in Iceland and wants you to come a give them a try. We’ve even put together a few suggestions.
Dirty or Shore-leave Sailor Martini
The Icelandic version of a martini, available in both dry and dirty. Of course you can always have a gin or vodka martini with Icelandic gin or vodka, but this is a special variation: Söl Seaweed & Dill akvavít. It’s cool, crisp and smooth. The salty, ocean flavour of the seaweed is the first thing you taste, but the fresh dill lingers as an after taste. It’s the perfect cocktail to have alongside some smoked salmon.
Ingredients: 1 jiggers of Söl Seaweed & Dill and 1/2 jigger of Dry White Vermouth
Directions: Shake all over ice and serve in a chilled martini glass with 3 olives.
This is a drink for those who like things a bit sweeter. It can also be a bit tricky to make. It’s all about the ice. Everyone loves this drink. It’s like a White Russian, but like everything Iceland touches, sweeter and more addictive.
Ingredients: 1/2 jigger of Icelandic vodka (give them all a try), 1/2 jigger of Kaluha, Coca Cola and Milk
Directions: Fill tall glass with ice to the top, add vodka and Kaluha, fill with Coca Cola with about a fingers room left at the top and top up with milk. Stir with bar spoon. *Caution* You need all the ice or the milk will curdle when mixed with the Coca Cola.
Borgartún (Icelandic Manhattan)
Sometimes you want to look classy and business savvy. Traditionally, a Manhattan has that old cocktail cool that has become popular again. Though Reykjavík might not have a “Wall Street” per se, it does have a nice little business and financial area with an all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet.
Ingredients: 1 jigger Flóki Single Malt Icelandic Whisky, 1/2 jigger sweet red vermouth, 2 to 3 drops of Börkur Icelandic Birch Bitter and Red Currents for garnish
Directions: Flóki, sweet red vermouth and Börkur shaken over ice and served in a chilled martini glass or tumbler. Garnish with Red Currents.
These are a few suggestions. Talk to the bartender for some other suggestions or suggest some of your own. There’s a lot of spirits to try. You’ll probably need to visit a few times.