Cocktail competition winners!


Photo: Madison Leiren

Sponsored by Brennivín

SKÅL! The 2021 Cocktail Competition was sponsored by Brennivín, Iceland’s signature spirit.

The secret to Brennivín is the balance between the pure, soft, Icelandic water and the robust, savory, flavor of caraway. While the precise origin of the recipe is unknown, caraway is one of few spices that grow wild in Iceland, despite the harsh climate. Bottoms up—skål!


Photo: Madison Leiren

Nordlig Lykke
This is a simple festive drink for any home bartender; practical & democratic; so … very Scandinavian!

2 oz. Brennivín aquavit
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. Canadian maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
3-4 ice cube
3-4 oz. quality ginger beer
(do not use ginger ale)

Combine Brennivín, lime juice, maple syrup, and Angostura in a shaker, add ice, and shake quickly. Strain into collins or rocks glass, add ice, then top with ginger beer.

John Enwright
Vancouver, B.C.


Photo: Madison Leiren

Icelandic Greenhouse
This drink is inspired by my last trip to Iceland with my husband, when we went to the tomato greenhouse Friðheimar. We were completely jetlagged and groggy, which wasn’t improved by the fact that we went in the dead of winter, when sunlight was in short supply. Luckily the greenhouse was warm and cozy and full of soup. I think back on that trip fondly …

2 oz. Brennivín or Brennivín Rugbraud
½ oz. white balsamic vinegar
½ oz. lemon juice
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ large tomato (or what equates to 4 fluid oz. when muddled)
Seltzer to top

Muddle the tomato in a cocktail shaker and add all remaining ingredients except seltzer. Shake with ice and double strain into a collins glass with fresh ice, and top with seltzer.

Ginny Landt
Chicago, Ill.
(Instagram @ginbeforebreakfast)

Sunrise at Noon


Photo: Madison Leiren

Today in Tromsø, Norway, the sun rose at 11:25 a.m., in some of the northern reaches of Norway, it won’t rise today at all. The name of this cocktail pays homage to Nordic countries and their short winter days and nods toward breakfast-centric flavor combos. When you think of coffee, Scandinavian countries may not be top of mind, but when we talk about global coffee consumption per capita. The country list goes: 1) Finland; 2) Norway; 3) Iceland; 4) Denmark; … 6) Sweden. Whether it’s a Swedish cardamom bun or a Norwegian smultring next to your cup of coffee in the morning, this cocktail’s cozy fluffiness and mix of traditional spices will wrap you in all the (figurative) warmth of the Nordic midday sunrise.

1 ½ oz. Brennivín aquavit
½ oz. Ceylon cinnamon syrup*
1 oz. brewed espresso coffee
1 large egg
Sprinkle of cardamom

Combine first four ingredients into a cocktail shaker with two 1-inch cubes of ice, cover and shake with untamed vigor until you don’t hear the ice hitting the shaker anymore. Strain through a fine-strainer/tea-strainer into a stemmed brandy snifter. Garnish with sprinkle of ground cardamom.

*Ceylon cinnamon syrup: Two 4-inch sticks of Ceylon cinnamon (it’s better tasting and better for you) in 6 fluid oz. of water, brought to a boil then taken off heat, mixed with 5 oz. demerara/turbinado “raw” sugar. Let cool and strain when ready to use. Store in refrigerator.

Zach Sapato
Twin Cities, Minn.
(currently in Tallinn, Estonia, for my partner’s graduate research)


This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.