10 Drinks to Raise a Toast in Norway

Beer, wine, and spirits add Skal! to festive gatherings

Aquavit Old Fashioned
••• Kenn Wilson/Flickr 

When in Norway, these are your ten best bets to drink when raising a toast.

1. Akevitt

Norwegians started distilling akevitt, also known as aquavit or akvavit, in the 1500s. Common throughout Scandinavia, akevitt resembles gin, with the dominant flavor of caraway instead of juniper. A neutral spirit derived from potatoes or grain, akevitt may include other spices such as fennel, cumin, or cardamom, and the zest of citrus fruits.The beverage's golden hue varies from clear to light brown depending on the vintage.

Norway's famous Linie Aquavit gets shipped to Australia and back in an unusual aging process. Scandinavians often consume akevitt during festive gatherings such as for Christmas, New Year, and weddings. 

2. Mead (mjød)

Mead plays an important role in many Scandinavian celebrations that originated in Viking times, such as the Midsummer celebration. In winter, Norwegians often consume the drink hot alongside ginger biscuits. The majority of the drink's fermented sugar comes from honey, giving it the popular nickname of honey wine.

3. Glogg

The traditional Scandinavian mulled wine called glogg adds aquavit to red wine simmered with cloves and cinnamon to produce a subtly sweet but powerful drink best served hot. Norwegians traditionally consume it during winter, around Christmas Eve and Halloween. A spoon may accompany the glogg, useful for scooping out the raisins and almonds added to the glass.

4. Punsch

Introduced to Scandinavia from Java, Indonesia, by Dutch traders in the 18th century, the name punsch derives from the Hindi word for five, referring to the number of ingredients that make up the beverage: alcohol, water, sugar, fruit, and spices. Originally based on arrack, a Southeast Asian distilled spirit made from fermented fruit and rice or the sap from coconut palms, Norwegian punsch may be flavored with liqueur to add the characteristic notes of almond, chocolate, and banana.

Like many adult beverages in Norway, where about a third of the country sits within the Arctic Circle, punsch gets served hot during the winter.

5. Cider

In Norway, cider made primarily from apple juice may be served either chilled or hot. In some regions, the beverage is called apple wine, and its golden hue varies from light to dark depending on the preparation process and ingredients.

6. Brennivin

Though more closely associated with Iceland than Norwegian, Brennivin can be found throughout Scandinavia. Translating to "burn-wine," Brennivin, technically a type of aquavit, most closely resembles a strong brandy, with an alcohol content of 30 to 38 percent.

7. Beer

Beer production in Norway dates back more than 1,000 years, but until the aughts, most pubs served only lager. Popular Norwegian beer styles include pilsner, a pale golden lager with a distinctive hoppy flavor; bayer, a dark malt larger with a sweet flavor; and stronger lagers such as Juleol and Bokko.

8. Vodka

Vikingfjord is a well-known brand of Norwegian vodka distilled using water from the Jostedalsbreen glacier. The brand was voted best Vodka in the International Wine and Spirit Competition held in London and has fast become a much-loved best-seller in Norway and around the world.

Vikingfjord comes unflavoured, with an alcohol content of 40%.

9. Wine

Due to the cold climate of Scandinavia, the majority of wine is imported into Norway, but the beverage is no less popular. Wine made from crowberry (known as kreking) comes offset with various herbs and spices to add a unique flavor.

10. Fruit Beer

Fruit beers brewed in Norway are well-known around the world. Popular brands are made from crowberries and come flavored with various spices and herbs. Other flavors include cherry, raspberry, and peach.