November took us to a warehouse in Hoxton for the UK launch of Reyka vodka. Hailing from Iceland and named after the Icelandic word for steam (inspired by their awesome hot springs), Reyka partied the only way they knew how and transformed the space into the land of ice. Northern lights, immense vodka cocktails and…did someone say something about a polar bear? Member Matt Bone put pen to paper to bring you the following report:
Honesty is a virtue”, or so, at least, my grandmother told me. Therefore I have to start this little tale with a confession, Reyka Vodka and I have met before. It was a cold, wet and terribly windy night in Reykjavik (the only kind I’ve ever known) in a wonderful bar called Kaffibarinn, where the resident Frenchman behind the stick said that I just had to try it. So I did, followed by a Reyka Martini, followed by collecting a bottle at duty free. So heading along to the Reyka Remix event with the London Cocktail Society was like meeting up with an old friend, only in warmer weather.
Despite the best efforts of London Underground and my inane lack of direction, I arrived at Arch 402 in Hoxton (sans my plus 1, who was still dying from our night out the evening before) to be greeted with confirmation of my LCS status on the list and a handful of pebbles. Walking into the venue, the woolly jumpers on the wall, corrugated iron huts and a blast of “The Glacier” (a dry ice machine turned up to 11), it felt right. But enough about ambiance, which is all very good for setting the mood, it was time to spend some pebbles.
Heading down the wall of jumpers lead to a wonder block of ice, bottles of Reyka and a very nice man filling glasses with both. I skipped the Icelandic Bitters (which I’ve had before and are very interesting, you should try them!) and went for a straight up vodka on the rocks to reacquaint myself with Reyka. Much like the land it’s from, Reyka is unusual. While most vodka has a bite to the aftertaste, Reyka has a burn similar to a whisky, leaving a rather fresh and almost menthol-y feeling. It is different and that is a good thing because the country it is from is as mad as a box of frogs, so a standard vodka would be a terrible disappointment.
Wandering around the installation, watching fellow remixers build and pull apart a iceberg polar bear, it was clear the night was a success. Having finished my drink it was time to try the cocktails on offer. So fighting my way through The Glacier, I headed for the main bar and the offerings there. I started off with a Bitter Steamed Tea, which is Reyka, green chartreuse, elderflower cordial, apple juice and a mint garnish, and continued people watching. It’s a wonderful pastime, people watching. And my observations of the evening, in between the white outs, were that the vodka was a hit. The cocktails were lovely too. The Bitter Steamed Tea came across well, think green tea with a jot of vodka, for purely medicinal purposes off course. Be honest, we’ve all done it! I followed that up with a Nordic Spring, because it would have been wrong to have a something Nordic to toast our hosts. A Nordic Spring is Reyka with a lime and lemon grass cordial, lime juice, a splash of soda and garnished with a sprig of coriander over ice. Much like the Bitter Steamed Tea, it was fresh and complimented the vodka well, if both, for the sake of even-handedness, could have done with slightly less cordial for my taste.
My socialising was cut short due to a dodgy ankle that decided that I’d had enough fun for one night and dragged me off into the night. Reyka will have wanted to make a splash and they certainly did. Reading the general merriment of my fellow LCS-ers and assorted others, it is plain to see that they will do well, the product stands up and the sense of Icelandic fun is terribly infectious. If you doubt that, try Reykjavik on a Friday night, it makes Shoreditch look like a village in Amish country. Welcome Reyka, it’s going to be fun!