If you are planning a visit to Norway and plan to clink glasses and proclaim "cheers," or skal in Norwegian, chances are good that you might not find bourbon, rum, or tequila at any of the local bar or taverns in town. Your best bets are aquavit (called akvavit or akevitt in Norwegian), glogg, or punsch.
Check out what makes up aquavit and other alcoholic drinks that are an important part of Scandinavian drinking culture, often consumed during festive gatherings, such as Christmas dinners and weddings.
Aquavit is one of the most well-known alcoholic beverages in Norway. Derived from potatoes and grain, the distinct flavor of aquavit comes from herbs and spices used after the distillation process, mainly caraway, fennel, or cumin. Aquavit is often consumed during festive gatherings such as Christmas, New Year's, and weddings. The beverage can have a golden hue, sometimes varying from clear to light brown depending on the vintage.
Mead has played an important part historically in many Scandinavia celebrations dating back to Viking times. In winter, the drink is often consumed hot alongside ginger biscuits. A majority of the drink's fermented sugar is derived from honey, giving it the popular nickname "honey wine."
In Norway, cider is popular served either chilled or hot. Made primarily from apple juice, spices and herbs can also be added. In some regions, the beverage may also be known as apple wine. Much like American cider, Norwegian cider has a golden hue varying from light to dark depending on the preparation process and ingredients.
Brennevin translates to mean "burn-wine." Brennevin is a strong liquor distilled from potatoes and grains. It can sometimes have added flavors. Brennevin is a popular drink throughout Scandinavia that most closely resembles a strong brandy. It has an alcohol content of 30 to 38 percent.
Introduced to Scandinavia 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. Punsch can also be flavored using liqueur to add an exotic note, such as almond, chocolate, and banana. It is usually served hot during winter.
Beer production in Norway dates back more than 1,000 years. Popular Norwegian beers include Pilsner, a pale golden lager with a distinct hop flavor; Bayer, a dark malt lager with a sweet flavor; and stronger lagers such as Juleol and Bokko.
Vikingfjord is a well-known brand of Norwegian vodka distilled using water from the Jostedalsbreen glacier. The brand has been voted best vodka by the international wine and spirit community. It is a best-seller in Norway and around the world. Vikingfjord comes unflavored, with an alcohol content of 40 percent.
Due to the cold climate of the Scandinavian region, the majority of wine is imported into Norway, but the beverage is no less popular. Wine made from blackberries (called kreking in Norwegian) is offset with various herbs and spices to add a unique flavor.
Fruit beers brewed in Norway are well-known around the world. Popular brands are made from blackberries and come flavored with various spices and herbs. Other flavors include cherry, raspberry, and peach.
Glogg is a beverage made from red wine and various mulling spices. The drink is served hot and is traditionally consumed during colder months around Halloween and Christmas Eve celebrations. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the drink can be bought ready-made. Glogg can be prepared with either fruit juices or wine.