When you think of Iceland, you might think of jumpers, glaciers or crushing England’s hopes of getting down to the last eight at the Euros. You probably won’t think of vodka. But you should, because Iceland is the home of Reyka, a vodka made with spring water running through a 4,000-year-old lava field. Oh, and it’s created in a distillery powered by volcanoes. Forget that Russian stuff, this is a Bond villain in a glass. If you don’t fancy travelling three hours on a plane to try it for yourself, you’re in luck, because Reyka is bringing the vodka to you, provided you can get to Hackney, east London.
Throughout November, the below venues in Hackney plays host to an array of immersive events; from music to hot dog tasting, in a celebration of Icelandic culture and, crucially, vodka. Gin lovers have had their moment, now it’s time for the Vodkatarians. Not sure that name’ll catch on, but you get the idea.
14 November; Farm Shop Dalston, 20 Dalston Lane, E8; farmlondon.weebly.com
Vodka doesn’t just come before “and tonic” or “Let’s have a shot”. Take a masterclass with Reyka’s brand ambassador, Fabiano Latham, and learn how to pair the spirit properly, why tomato juice is Reyka’s number one mixer, and try out some Icelandic tongue twisters for good measure.
14-15 November; 460 Hackney Road,E2; apiarystudios.org/honey-moon
Celebrating the recent Iceland Airwaves Festival, Reyka is hosting a session with Icelandic Talent Vio from 14 to 15 November, and the tickets are free. You can bet there’ll be a plethora of lava-distilled vodka drinks to enjoy with the music, too.
18-19 November; 460 Hackney Road,E2; apiarystudios.org/honey-moon
Feast like an Icelandic god with Reyka’s weekend banquet, showcasing not only traditional Icelandic food but a range of traditional Reyka cocktails. Despite what you might think, Icelanders are obsessed with hot dogs, so you’ll be fine. They also enjoy fermented shark, jellied sheep head and puffins, so you may be less fine.
4. Four Quarters East
18-19 November; Four Quarters Here East, E20; geocities.fourquartersbar.co.uk
Watch Icelandic street artist Selur live-paint a surreal Icelandic landscape while you sip vodka and applaud. Actually, don’t applaud. It’s art. Just watch it with your eyes like a normal person.
5. Kansas Smitty’s
24 November; 63-65 Broadway Market, E8; kansassmittys.com
More music. And more vodka. Hidden in a basement somewhere below Broadway Market, watch an intimate set supported by a light show based on the Northern Lights. If you find it especially amazing, feel free to use the popular Icelandic phrase for expressing awe “There are many wonders in a cow’s head”. Probably explain that it’s Icelandic to those around you.
6. The Barge House
25-26 November; The Barge House, 46a De Beauvoir Crescent, N1; thebargehouse.co.uk
If you miss the music-and-light show, The Barge House has an event fully focused on replicating the Northern Lights in the form of a water installation. Ideal if you’ve always wanted to check out the Aurora Borealis but, y’know, have got a lot on.
7. Number 90
25-26 November; Number 90, 90 Wallis Road, E9; number90bar.co.uk
Calling all hot dog fans… get down to Bar 90 for some free hot dogs freshly boiled in beer, the Icelandic way. During the evening, if anything shocks you, you may want to exclaim “That is the raisin at the end of the hot dog”, something Icelanders say when something surprises them at the end of something. Like, for example, if they found a raisin at the end of their hotdog. You can see the logic.
For more information and to book tickets for any of the Reyka Expedition events, please visit reykaexpedition.eventbrite.com.
Bars to make a beeline for
Head to these Hackney bars to sample one of our bespoke Reyka cocktails:
Mint Gun Club
4a Brooke Road, N16 7JN
392 Kingsland Road, E8 4AA
510 Kingsland Road, E8 4AB
321 Kingsland Road, E8 4DL
129 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 OPH
Behind This Wall
411 Mare Street, E8 1HY
11a Morning Lane, E9 6ND
13 Morning Lane, E9 6ND
Looking Glass Cocktail Club
49 Hackney Road, E2 7NX
The Natural Philosopher
489 Hackney Road, E2 9ED
44 Old St, EC1V 9AQ
177 Mare St, E8 3RH
HITCH A RIDE
On the weekend of 18-19 and 25-26 November, look out for Reyka’s tandems which will be on hand to help you check out the Icelandic action happening at partner bars across Hackney. Simply flag down a Reykologist and hitch your free ride. You’re welcome.
Win a Reyka Tandem Bike
Iceland is a place unlike anywhere. And Reyka is a vodka unlike any other. This charmingly offbeat island is home to 10 million puffins, 130 volcanoes and a life full of off-road adventures. So why take a car when you can take a bike? We’ve got a team of Reykologists riding tandems across East London lately and now you can win your very own Viking tandem bike worth £649