Cocktail: Thor’s Forest

Þorsmörk or “Thor’s Forest” is a nature reserve on Iceland’s south coast. But calling it a forest is a bit of a stretch, as the country is almost devoid of trees.


It’s uncertain if the cold climate and short growing season or the deforestation during the Viking Age is responsible for the lack of any substantial forests. To help slow erosion, a campaign to reforest the country was started in the late 20th century.

This cocktail’s main ingredient is Brennivín (literally “burnt wine”), a brutally strong unsweetened schnapps flavored with caraway. When prohibition ended in 1935, Brennivín was bottled with a white skull on a black label, earning it the nickname Svarti Dauði or Black Death.

St. George Terroir gin has a pronounced pine flavor. If it is not available, a strongly herbaceous gin is recommended.

The Þorsmörk or “Thor’s Forest” cocktail is featured in the Seattle Sister Cities’ cookbook, The International Table, with recipes from Seattles’s 20 sister cities.


1 quarter lemon or ½ tbsp. lemon juice

2 sprigs rosemary

1 oz. Brennivín

1 oz. St. George Terroir gin


In a cocktail shaker, muddle the lemon and 1 sprig of rosemary. Fill the shaker with ice, add the liquor, and shake vigorously until well chilled.

Serve straight up in a martini, cordial, or old-fashioned glass, garnished with a small sprig of rosemary.

Recipe from The International Table: Recipes from the Seattle Sister Cities, Seattle Sister Cities Association, 2021. Reprinted with permission.


Also see A sister city friendship making a difference in the July 29, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

This article originally appeared in the July 29, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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