The last time I added a recipe to this page was August
There is no universally accepted Icelandic "National
Drink". Cynics will tell you that it's Coca Cola, and it is true
that the per capita consumption of Coke in Iceland is among the highest in the world. But
Coke isn't Icelandic - therefore it can't be the National Drink.
When it comes to liquor, "Brennivín"is
a national drink, a nasty schnapps made from potatoes and flavoured
with caraway. It is also called "Black Death", which explains
a lot. Many Icelanders never touch it, and a majority of the ones who drink
it only do so when feeling patriotic, such as when attending Ţorrablót
or when trying to impress foreign visitors.
There is a recipe for simulation Brennivín out there on the Web - I
haven't tested it, so don't blame me if you try it and hate it. Click
here to see the recipe. (By the way, "powder sugar" refers either to
brown sugar - according to the Icelandic instructions - or to icing
sugar - according to the German instructions. I'm inclined to think it
should be brown sugar).
Another possible national drink is whey - a liquid that is formed
when making skyr. In past centuries, whey mixed
with water was an everyday drink. These days not many people drink it and it's mostly used for pickling
food. It's also a good substitute for
white wine in cooking.
I got an e-mail some time ago that reminded me
that I had forgotten about mead and ale. Basic mead is honey that has
been mixed with water and allowed to ferment. Sometimes it was spiced
with herbs, sometimes not. Import of mead had all but disappeared by the
Ale was brewed in Iceland using malt and hops, at least up to the 17th
century, and ale and beer were also imported.
Other than these (very patriotic) beverages, we mostly drink what any
other nation does: water, milk, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, beer,
wine and liquor.
Deliciously warming on a cold winter's day, this is
my favourite hot drink! Preferably made with Síríus Konsum
chocolate, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate available.
sugar and vanilla essence to taste
*I use semi-sweet chocolate, but bitter
chocolate will do - just use more sugar.
Break the chocolate and put in a cooking pot with the water. Heat gently, stirring until
the chocolate is melted. Add the milk in smallish
portions, allowing it to boil before adding more. Add sugar and vanilla
essence to taste, and melt in the butter just before serving.
-Serve in mugs with whipped cream ( and your favourite cake or
cookies on the side).
-Alternatively, serve with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream
floating on top.
This mix is, as far as I know, purely an Icelandic invention. In the
first half of this century not many people could afford to buy ale and
fizzy drinks, and they were therefore something to be enjoyed at festive
occasions, such as Christmas and birthdays. Mixing the drinks together
was probably believed to make it even more enjoyable to drink. The
taste is sweet, malty and mellow. A comforting drink that always
makes me think of Christmas.
Take equal measures of an orange flavoured fizzy drink (Fanta will
do) and brown ale (Guinness is supposed to be good) and mix together. Be careful to pour the
orange drink first, and pour the ale carefully to avoid it getting too
frothy. Drink with the Christmas meal. To get an authentic flavour, the
orange drink should be the Icelandic "Egils Appelsín", and
the brown ale "Egils Malt". Some people (like my family) like
to add some cola, usually Coke.
Brew some good, strong coffee. If you use ready-ground, add
some caraway seeds before brewing. If you grind your
own, throw some caraway seeds in the grinder along with the coffee beans.
I'm not going to offer any measurements, as people's tastes vary widely
where coffee in concerned, and the amount of caraway should be adjusted to
-For a truly adult version of caraway coffee, make a
"Black Russian" with fresh, hot coffee and use brennivín
instead of vodka. To add a bit of brennivín ("ađ gefa út í")
is a tradition still honoured by some Icelanders, and there are stories of
caraway coffee sometimes arousing the (happy) suspicion that the hostess
has put "a little something extra" in the coffee.
My own invention. This sweet ginger-milk drink is
wonderfully calming if you have an upset stomach. Ginger-root is a
well-known nature medicine, and is especially recommended for stomach
ailments and motion sickness.
fresh ginger root OR
dried, powdered ginger
Peel and grate the ginger root into a saucepan and add the
milk, OR put the milk into a saucepan and add powdered ginger and stir to
mix. Bring the milk to the boil. Just before the milk begins to boil, whip
it with a egg-beater to make it frothy. Pour through a fine sieve or tea
strainer into mugs, add sugar and enjoy.
-You can vary the amount of ginger according to taste. Just
don't put too much or the milk will curdle!