Destination-Worthy Milkshake: Licorice Shake at Hamborgarafabrikkan in Reykjavík, Iceland


[Photos: Liz Clayton]

If there's a Scandinavian sweet to write home about, it's licorice—and while you'll easily find it enrobed in chocolate, caramel, marzipan and more, even my wildest dairy fantasies had not yet imagined it in milkshake format. Until now.

At Reykjavík's Hamborgarafabrikkan ("hamburger factory"), a hotel-lobby-chic restaurant just east of the more touristy downtown (where you'd be more likely to find whale milkshakes—hey, good idea!), American fare takes a on a Scandi candy twist: the licorice milkshake, realized.

Don't mind the sickly greenish hue—this thick, frothy mindboggler offers a thick, creamy body tough to draw through a straw. And while you're savoring one (or two), it shouldn't startle you when the restaurant periodically breaks out with a public address announcement about someone's birthday, bachelorette party, or a rise or fall in the total population of Iceland—handily tracked on a tote board that's updated with every birth or death.

But back to our shake. Custardy up front, you're almost worried this will be one of those too-subtle ice cream concoctions, until one beat later licorice rises up to meet you on the finish: tangy and ticklish, cut again by the sweet ice cream. It's not salty, stinging or brusque like the most intense of licorices, but it's distinctly candy-anisey-puckery-creamy in perfect balance.

To prepare, the restaurant avoids mangling its blenders with sticky bits and instead employs a licorice syrup, mixed with vanilla ice cream and milk. It may not be a pretty drink, but it's a delicious one—and just the thing to ring in a rise or fall in population.


Turninum Höfdatúni 2, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland (map) +354 575-7575;