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New York Times features Icelandic Brennivín as it gains ground in the US

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • Black Death The nickname of Brennivín has its origins in the distinctive black label, originally mandated by the government to dissuade people from drinking the contents of the bottle.

The Icelandic Aquavit Brennivin, also known as “Black Death”, due to the black label of the bottles, continues to win over an international following. Recently the New York Times Style Magazine featured the flavourful drink, dubbing it “Iceland‘s Newest Export”.

Distinctive taste and label
Most foreign visitors who strike up a conversation with a local at an Icelandic bar are likely to be encouraged to try the caraway spiced spirit. Some visitors to Iceland have even taken a liking to the drink, whether it is the uniquely minimalistic design on the label or the taste. The bottle and its contents certainly have their rough charm: Michael Madsen is seen drinking Brennivin in Quentin Tarantino‘s Kill Bill 2.

Read more: Iceland’s signature liquor Brennivín vs. Vodka: what is the difference?

Traditionally Brennivin is sipped ice-cold, like other aquavits. Icelanders used to drink Brennivin mixed with a cola, or even chocolate milk, but no Icelandic cocktails containing Brennivín have managed to gain any significant popularity. However, as the drink has been gaining popularity in America some creative barmen have figured out ways to make this edgy drink even more interesting.

Try this summery Brennivín cocktail
The New York Times published the following coctail recipe which mixes the caraway taste of Brennivín with cucumber, sweet blond vermouth and a rhubarb liqueur, topped off with pilsner.

The coctail was developed by New York barman and Brennivín enthusiast Chaim Dauermann who has found Brennivín actually goes well with a lot of different things, including cucumber. “If you want to describe it as a summer cocktail, by all means” he tells New York Times Style Magazine.

Read more: Brennivín cocktails are all the rage - here are the best mixed drink recipes with Iceland's signature liquor

Chaim Dauermann’s Stone Crush
Yield: 1 drink
1½ ounces Brennivín aquavit
½ ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
¼ ounce Rabarbaro Zucca amaro
1 ounce Stiegl Goldbräu pilsner beer
1 cucumber, sliced
1 lemon

Instructions:
1. In a mixing glass, muddle three or four slices of cucumber into a juicy pulp.
2. Fill the mixing glass with ice, then add the Brennivín, vermouth and Zucca. Stir well. Lastly, add the Stiegl beer.
3. Strain the drink through a fine-mesh sieve into an ice-filled rocks glass.
4. With a paring knife or peeler, cut off a strip of lemon peel and twist it over the drink to express the lemon oil. Discard the peel.
5. Garnish with more slices of cucumber and serve.

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