No one was more surprised than me to hear from the folks at Reyka Vodka, not just wondering if I would like to try their product but to hear the news that Denver is hosting A Taste of Iceland for the 2nd year in a row. From September 26 – 29, locals will have a unique opportunity to experience what life is like in a country over 3,600 miles away. The four-day event celebrates the vibrant culture of Iceland, a country that has become a hotbed for emerging music and innovative cuisine. A Taste of Iceland made its Denver debut in 2012, and was met with excitement from music fans and foodies alike. Based on last year’s success, the event’s organizers are once again partnering with KGNU 88.5 FM & 1390 AM and Coohills to showcase the best Iceland has to offer.
During A Taste of Iceland, locals are invited to savor Icelandic cuisine as guest chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson takes over the kitchen at Coohills, mix cocktails using Reyka Vodka with Coohills’ mixologist Noah Heaney, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind performance featuring Iceland’s top musicians including Lay Low, Snorri Helgason and Högni Egilsson alongside notable Denver artists Jesse Elliott of Ark Life and These United States, Esmé Patterson of Paper Bird and Tyler Ludwick of Princess Music.
In conjunction with this event, I’ve prepared a cocktail using Reyka Vodka, a vodka that is as unique as the land that inspires it. Crafted by hand in small batches in Borganes, Iceland, Reyka Vodka is filtered through ancient lava rocks and made from the purest Iceland spring water using geo-thermal energy. A beautiful clean vodka; it seems meant to be the perfect mixer. Combined with the flavors of Blood Orange Liqueur, Creme de Violette, Lemon Juice and Rhubarb Bitters, the resulting cocktail is as cool as it looks but there is nothing ‘girly’ about this beauty. Citrus elements combine with just a hint of violet and we thought it both absolutely gorgeous to look at and a wonderful cocktail to advent the chill in the air.
Finding the Creme de Violette was a challenge but I was ultimately successful at an absolutely wonderful shop that is new to me; Divino Wine and Spirits on Broadway, nestled among the many antique stores on the west side of the highway. A small storefront belies the array of products inside and the helpful and knowledgeable young man behind the counter made for a most pleasant experience. This is the sort of place that people who love to craft cocktails HAVE to know about! If you’re in Denver? Go. Now.
Before I was rewarded with success in my search, I was ‘this close’ to using Cassis liqueur and I’m sure it would have been fine; it’s a small and subtle amount for sure…but if you can find the Creme de Violette do give it a try; it’s apparently the darling of the craft cocktail crowd!
If you’re in Denver you should try to make it down to this event; but if not…you can attend in spirit(s) with this cool and elegant drink. We absolutely loved it.
Icelandic Menu at Coohills
Thursday, September 26 – Sunday, September 29
Coohills welcomes guest Icelandic chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson who will be collaborating with chef Tom Coohill to offer a pre-fixe Nordic menu. Coohills, located in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood, is known for a focus on local, regional and farm-fresh ingredients; however the Icelandic menu will offer diners a taste of a very different region, with ingredients including arctic char, fresh langoustine and free-range lamb, all sourced directly from Iceland.
Chef Vigfusson, recognized as one of Iceland’s most brilliant young chefs, has garnered international attention as head chef of LAVA Restaurant, located at Iceland’s famed Blue Lagoon. He was named Icelandic Chef of the Year in 2007, won the One World culinary competition in 2008, and is currently the captain of the Icelandic National Culinary Team. His culinary inspiration stems from the modern Nordic wave in cuisine and Icelandic traditions, a theme reflected in the Icelandic menu at Coohills.
“Many people never get the opportunity to experience true Icelandic cuisine,” said chef Vigfusson. “I enjoy introducing people to Nordic culinary traditions, especially when the ingredients are completely new and different. We will be using the best quality meats and seafood Iceland has to offer. I know diners are going to love the experience and I hope some are even able to visit Iceland and dine at LAVA Restaurant in the future.”
The four-course Icelandic menu will be offered for $65 with the option to add an additional course and wine pairings for $95. Coohills is located at 1400 Wewatta St., Denver, CO 80202. Reservations can be made by calling 303.623.5700, or by visiting www.coohills.com.
Reyka Vodka Craft Cocktail Classes At Coohills
Friday, September 27– Sunday, September 29 | 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Coohills’ mixologist Noah Heaney will host a series of free craft cocktail classes featuring Iceland-distilled Reyka Vodka. This award-winning, hand crafted, small-batch vodka is made using Iceland’s arctic spring water and is filtered through Iceland’s lava rocks. Classes will cover the basics of crafting cocktails and offer a hands-on demonstration of two Reyka Vodka cocktail recipes. Classes are free, and attendance is limited to 25 per class. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 303.623.5700.
Reykjavik Calling – Free Concert at 3 Kings Tavern Presented By KGNU 88.5 FM & 1390 AM
Saturday, September 28 | Doors at 7:00 p.m.
Reykjavik Calling, featuring top Icelandic artists and up-and-coming Denver musicians, is a free annual showcase celebrating emerging music from two very different parts of the world. The vibrant music and chart-topping artists originating from this small Nordic nation has helped Iceland secure a special place within the international music scene. This year, a new lineup of Icelandic artists join Denver favorites for an unparalleled cross-cultural musical experience. Those who attended Reykjavik Calling in 2012 will undoubtedly remember Lay Low, who recently opened for Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men on their U.S. tour. Presented by KGNU 88.5 FM & 1390 AM, the FREE concert will feature performances and never-before-heard collaborations from the following Iceland/Denver duos:
|From Iceland||From Denver|
|Lay Low||Jesse Elliott of Ark Life and These United States|
|Snorri Helgason||Esmé Patterson of Paper Bird|
|Högni Egilsson||Tyler Ludwick of Princess Music|
“Without a doubt, this is a show not to be missed,” said Esmé Patterson of the band Paper Bird, who will be performing at Reykjavik Calling alongside Icelandic artist Snorri Helgason. “It’s such a unique experience to be able to collaborate with musicians from the other side of the world, and I can’t wait for the audience to hear the end product.”
“Last year was my first time visiting Denver and I felt completely embraced by the local music fans,” said Lay Low. “We may come from different countries but our music shares a lot of commonalities. This show is a perfect example of how music can unite people from across the globe. I can’t wait to get back on stage in this wonderful city.”
Admission to Denver’s second annual Reykjavik Calling concert is FREE, 21+ only and limited to venue capacity. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. 3 Kings Tavern is located at 60 South Broadway, Denver, CO 80209. For more information, visit www.3kingstavern.com, or call 303.777.7352.
A Taste of Iceland in Denver is presented by Iceland Naturally, in cooperation with Icelandair, Reyka Vodka, 66° North, Blue Lagoon, Icelandic Glacial Water and Promote Iceland, Coohills, 3 Kings Tavern , KGNU 88.5 FM & 1390 AM, and Westword.
For a complete schedule of events during A Taste of Iceland in Denver, please visit www.icelandnaturally.com, become a fan on Facebook and RSVP to the A Taste of Iceland event at www.facebook.com/icelandnaturally and follow @IcelandNatural on Twitter.
- 1.5 oz Thyme infused Reyka Vodka
- 1 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- ¼ oz Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette
- 3 drops of Rhubarb Bitters (I used Fee Brothers)
- Garnish with (blood) orange slice dusted in sparkling sugar
- Chill cocktail glass.
- Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice.
- Shake hard and double strain over a large ice cube in an old fashioned glass.
- Garnish with sugared orange slice
About Iceland Naturally:
Iceland Naturally is a cooperative marketing organization that promotes the tourism, services, products and culture of Iceland. It represents the true essence of Iceland, its creativity and spectacular natural wonders. The group is comprised of Icelandair, Icelandic Group., Islandsbanki, Reyka Vodka, City of Reykjavik, Icelandic Glacial Water, 66° NORTH, Blue Lagoon, Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Landsvirkjun, Promote Iceland and the Government of Iceland. For more information, please visit www.icelandnaturally.com.