The official Icelandic national schnapps is not unlike Hobbes’ natural state of mankind: nasty, brutish and short.
Having a national beverage seems to be de rigeur for small countries who want to
sell stuff to tourists maintain their cultural identity. Iceland is no exception.
The local tipple is called “Brennivín”, an ancient Icelandic word that translates as “we see a really bad headache in your future”.
The way the bottle’s label manages to clearly convey this exact prediction can either be attributed to a triumph of graphic design or the fact that the contents of the bottle used to be produced by those wacky and fun-loving guys over at the National Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
But should your lifestyle happen to be less morbid, depressive and/or unwholesome, just relax — you can now get the new and improved “cute version” with the bottle wearing an actual Icelandic sweater. (According to rumour, a Hello Kitty version is in the works.)
So what kind of person drinks Brennivín? Well, according to some guy who really likes freeze-framing Quentin Tarantino movies, Brennivín is what Kill Bill’s Budd uses to ease the pain. Apparently there also exists an outtake where Michael Madsen explains the subtleties of the drink to Darryl Hannah. (Time for the Icelandic Tourist Board to organize a break-in at QT’s editing room, we think.)
Iceland’s signature beverage may have fallen out of favour with the local drinking classes, but fear not. Our research shows that tourists seem to enjoy documenting its consumption.
Our recommendation: Some people like to pretend you have to be some kind of reality TV show contestant to drink Brennivín. It’s really not that bad. Just keep it as close to zero degrees Celsius as you can, and you’ll be fine. Drunk yes, but otherwise fine.