Exotic, forbidden cocktails — Cuban rum! — at Reykjavik, Iceland’s Hotel Holt

A couple of weeks ago, I relaxed with a Happy Hour drink in the bar of the luxurious Hotel Holt in Reykjavik, Iceland. Even if you forget where you are, you can easily spot that you’re on the right road because of the bright red little vintage house across the street.

The bar — in a room off the hotel lobby where I was happy to be hosted to experience — has a couple of distinct sitting areas. One is a touch brighter, with soft leather banquettes and low tables, while the area near the bar has traditional stools and is more intimately lit. Next to the bar is a wood built-in cabinet filled with bottles of the most exotic liqueurs and whiskeys from around the world! Rare Scotches, Japanese liqueurs, French cognacs, German artisan liquor that I just recently spied in Germany, and more are available.

The Happy Hour bar scene is great: roots/alt country music plays in the background and word seems to have seeped out about the bar’s popularity.

Local Kaldi microbrew, made according to an old Czech recipe with Icelandic water, is on tap. They also have a bar menu with such gourmet tidbits as foie gras with brioche! I definitely would have indulged, had I not had dinner reservations around the corner in minutes.

There are a number of specialty cocktails on the menu, as well as a Happy Hour special drink of the day. I arrived just as Happy Hour was starting and the bartender had not settled on a cocktail yet, so she asked me what type of drink I would like. I saw a bottle of Havana Club rum — totally unavailable to us in the USA, due to our decades’ long embargo against Cuba. The bartender utilized a few tropical juices, along with the rum in a cool, tall drink. The silver line — I have since also tried the gold line — is sharper than I would have expected for all the rhapsodizing about Cuban rum. Maybe it’s just the call of the taboo that has people mesmerized.

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