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July 2017

Cold as Iceland -- The Icelandic Sour

The wonderful country of Iceland is the polar opposite of the person who's the subject of the Foreigner tune Cold As Ice.  As foreigners who recently traveled to Iceland, Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I had a great time seeing the sights and meeting people. The Icelandic Sour is my adaptation of the Whiskey Sour served at Loftid in Reykjavik.

With vitamin C and protein, the Icelandic Sour is a relatively healthy cocktail.
Containing Vitamin C and protein, the Icelandic Sour is a relatively healthy cocktail.

2.5 ounces rye
1 ounce super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 egg white
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash aromatic or Angostura bitters

Combine everything except the egg white into a shaker, add ice, shake with the force of water cascading over the majestic Gulfoss falls in Iceland, strain everything into a glass, toss the ice from the shaker, pour the contents of the glass back into the shaker, add the egg white, shake as if you're hustling to make your connection in Keflavik airport (don't ask), and strain into a separate chilled glass.

Why the complicated preparation? The reverse dry shaking process described above works really well for any drink with egg whites, e.g. the Pisco Sour (click on the Protein category for other examples) because it enhances the flavor and results in more foam.  If you don't want to reverse dry shake, just put all of the ingredients and ice into a shaker and shake away.

The Icelandic Sour is another example of the Whiskey Sour's versatility.  Other variations include cocktails such as the Midnight Train. All of the ingredients for the Icelandic Sour are easy to obtain, and you end up with a tasty and balanced drink. 

If you want paradise, pay the price with an Icelandic Sour.


Eyes and Cars -- The Blinker

Your eyes and the turn signal in your car are blinkers.  The Blinker probably has nothing to do with either of them, as the cocktail's origins are unknown.  Patrick Gavin Duffy, a New York City bartender in the late 19th century and pre-Prohibition 20th century, mentioned the Blinker in his 1934 book The Official Mixer's Manual. 75 years later Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh resurrected the Blinker and put his own spin on it.

Blinker2 ounces rye (Bulleit or Rittenhouse won't make you blink)
Juice from 1/8 grapefruit 
.25 ounces glorious grenadine or raspberry syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, be like the Cars and Shake It Up (1980s music fans like me get it), and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon peel garnish optional.

The sweetener is the real variable.  The original Blinker uses grenadine, and Haigh's version uses raspberry syrup. I tried the Blinker both ways, and I preferred it with grenadine.  It's simply a matter of taste.  If you want to make your own raspberry syrup, start by making a batch of super simple syrup.  Mash raspberries into the mixture when you remove it from the heat source, then strain the solids out after the mixture cools down. 

The Blinker is a little spicy (because of the rye and grapefruit juice) yet refreshing. The result is very drinkable. If you have too many you'll channel some Blink-182 tunes, forget All The Small Things, and ask What's My Age Again.  If you have one or two you'll channel the Cars tune and let the Good Times Roll.  Blink-182 makes good music, but I grew up with the Cars. Regardless of your taste in rock n'roll, you'll enjoy the Blinker for much longer than a _____ of an eye.


Iceland Iceland Baby -- Apotek and Loftid

Ice in Iceland -- an ice cave in Surtshellir.
Ice in Iceland -- an ice cave in Surtshellir.

Even though Reykjavik, Iceland isn't a big city, it has a lot of great eating and drinking options. Apotek and Loftid are two of them. Friends highly recommended Apotek to me and Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, and we discovered Lotfid while walking around the neighborhood. 

Like Kol, which is the subject of a prior post (link), Apotek is first and foremost a restaurant.  Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den thinks the lamb filet we had there was the best lamb we've ever had (I agree), and I could go on all day about the fabulous fish, e.g. arctic char and minke whale.  But you're not in the Den to read about food.  The cocktails are excellent and creative.  I applaud Apotek for incorporating Icelandic spirits into the drinks.  Some of the spirits are familiar to many, e.g. Reyka vodka, and some are not, e.g. Brennivin (a clear liquor, technically an aquavit, also known as "Black Death"). Our first meal in Iceland happened to be at Apotek, and we enjoyed our experience so much we had our last meal in Iceland there, too.

Even the soap dispensers at Apotek are alcoholic.
Even the soap dispensers at Apotek are alcoholic.

Unlike Apotek, Loftid is a bar and club.  Interestingly, you have to be at least 25 years old to enter the place. Presumably it does this to keep out younger drinkers (apparently Reykjavik has quite a party scene) and entice "classier" (?) drinkers like me and Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den.   We went there on a Sunday night so it was pretty quiet.  The bar is well stocked, and the drinks on the handwritten list on the wall (there is no printed list) are good.  They aren't nearly as complex as those as Apotek.  This is not surprising, as Lotfid is set up to operate as a high volume bar.

The highlight of Loftid was meeting a young bartender named Johann.  He clearly has the desire to succeed and the potential to become a great bartender.  He just needs more exposure to classic cocktails, e.g. he confessed he never made a Manhattan, so we walked him through the version we prefer.

Our experience at Loftid involved the three Cs I love about the world of cocktails -- creating them, communicating about them, and connecting with people through them.  If I can do that in Reykjavik, you can do it anywhere.


What's Your Sign? -- Zodiac Drinking At Bars

Whether you believe in horoscopes or not (I don't), they can be fun to read.  Could they indicate what type of bars you like or your drinking habits?  Who cares?  More importantly, do you want to have some fun and laugh?  Of course you do.  Click on the links in the second sentence and enjoy.  Thanks to my friends Danielle of Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur (full disclosure -- I am a small investor) and CJ of the forthcoming travel site Wanderonomy (full disclosure -- Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I will be contributors) for telling me about these articles.  

According to these articles, I'm best in a tiki bar, level headed, and want everyone to have fun.  Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den is best in a corner bar, a good wingwoman, and won't bow to peer pressure. Are these drinking horoscopes accurate?  Here's my absolutely definitive one word answer -- maybe. Drink with us and find out.

Zodiac signs


Iceland Iceland Baby -- Kol

Think great cocktails and food in Reykjavik, Iceland, not the musical abomination from Vanilla Ice (who brazenly ripped off the bassline in the great song Under Pressure from Queen and David Bowie).  Sometimes you find fantastic places when you're wandering. That's exactly how Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I discovered Kol in Reykjavik. 

Gulfoss waterfall is spectacular, even when the rain is coming in sideways.
Gulfoss waterfall is spectacular, even when the rain is coming in sideways.

I have no idea how to say "wonderful surprise" in Icelandic (all I learned was "takk," which means "thanks"), but that's exactly how I would describe our experience at Kol restaurant. When we entered Kol we had absolutely no idea it has a top notch cocktail program.  Asgeir Mar Björnsson created the program. High quality ingredients (I was stunned to see such a wide ranging selection of whiskey in Iceland), expert proficiency behind the bar, and careful attention to details and presentation.  The bar would do well anywhere in the world.  The same goes for the restaurant, as the food and service are outstanding.  

Duck Fat Sazerac
Duck Fat Sazerac

Kol divides its drinks menu for the type of drinker you are or want to be -- accessible, advanced, professional, and responsible.  Don't focus on the categories, focus on the ingredients you might like.  All of the cocktails we had were excellent, and I loved some of the names.  For example, the Duck Season (duck fat washed bourbon, maraschino liqueur, lemon) had me channel my love of classic Warner Brothers cartoons and exclaim "Rabbit season!" like Daffy Duck.

After some conversation with the maître d', he was kind enough to give us a copy of Kol's cocktail book. Granted, it is in Icelandic, but if we can't figure it out we'll use Google Translate.

Like Iceland, Kol is expensive, but it is worth every single krone (the Icelandic currency).  Your wallet might be under pressure there.  Your taste buds and liver will not.

Takk to Kol!