While Iceland is currently experiencing a booming beer culture revival, its cocktail bars are still not to be missed. While you can definitely find your famous cocktail standards, the most innovative bars in Reykjavik are making twists on the old classics and giving them a distinctively Icelandic spin, featuring local spirits and native flora.
Located in the Reykjavik Marina Hotel next to the Old Harbour area, this bar is considered Iceland’s first cocktail bar. With a tasty array of unique cocktails on the menu, such as The Metamorphosis, which involves a mix of gin and Yunnan tea, prepare to be amazed.
Bistro, Restaurant, Bar, Brasserie, European, Northern European, $$$
Snaps Bistro serves French-inflected cuisine | Courtesy of Snaps Bistro
This bar is located in a quiet, picturesque neighborhood that is home to many. The cozy atmosphere, complete with low-lighting, hanging plants, and large windows, is one of the most memorable in Reykjavik. If you want a quiet evening with friends in a sleek, cool environment, go here and check out the gin and tonic menu. They also offer a range of French brasserie-style dishes, such as moules marinières, prepared with mussels harvested at Breiðafjördur, and French onion soup, made with Icelandic Ísbui cheese.
With framed sketches on the walls of Iceland’s most beloved painter, Jóhannes Kjarval, as well as many other respected landscape painters, the legendary place packs quite the ambiance. The drink selection is of the classic variety, offering beer, wine, and cocktails, which pair well with the equally classic cushy red leather chairs and fireplace.
Located on the second floor with huge windows overlooking the busy walking street below and perfectly worn brown leather sofas, this bar offers a lot of ambiances. Come for the whiskey selection and tailored feeling of the place. You must be 25 or over to enter, as well as adhere to a dress code of “neat and classy.”
Located on the top floor of the elegant Harpa Concert hall, this Italian restaurant and bar is a great place to enjoy a cocktail or aperitif before or after your Harpa event. This multi-level bar is well known for its exotic cocktails served by professionals. The view from the award-winning designer facade is incredible and adds a magical touch.
This former biscuit factory overlooking the beautiful Mount Esja offers a great selection of Icelandic beers on tap and cocktails, as well as tempting bar snacks, such as dates wrapped in bacon. Enjoy mingling with guests at the hostel and locals in the vintage décor of the lounge and bar area. Go on a Tuesday evening and enjoy a free concert with local jazz musicians.
This quirky establishment is great for dancing late into the night. Their Hawaiian and neon-themed décor match perfectly with their tropical array of cocktails. Trending towards reggae and dub music, this is one corner bar that is not to be missed on your night out in Reykjavik.
This cozy restaurant, bar, and hotel are open all day with an amazing selection of European gastropub food with an Icelandic twist. Located on a busy corner street downtown, this place is hard to miss with its large windows full of eclectic remnants of its former days as a pharmacy (Apotek means pharmacy in Icelandic). With an extensive cocktail menu, including locally sourced ingredients such as dill, Estragon, and pepper mixed with Icelandic liquor, you can’t go wrong.
Classic international dishes are given a comfort food twist at this establishment—a stylish, welcoming, and popular restaurant established in early 2014. Situated over two floors, the spacious venue has an open kitchen and cozy dining space with leather couches and warm lighting. This is complemented by furniture designed by British design firm Tom Dixon and art from Icelandic artist María Inga Brynjarsdóttir. Head chefs Einar Hjaltason and Kári Porsteinsson bring more than 20 years’ experience working at Reykjavik’s top restaurants, cooking up innovative yet comforting dishes like the wolf fish, served with escabeche vegetables, mashed potatoes, and a smooth parmesan velouté.
This bar dedicates itself to the monk-like study of wine, hops, and spirits, which is fitting for a klaustur, or cloister. It is also a quiet place to learn, reflect, and meet. Located at the center of Reykjavik just by the Dómkirkja and Alþingi and serving a great array of drinks in a low-lit corner bar, you will have plenty to choose from with their Klaustur Martini collection, which is created out of the freshest fruits and herbs to make martinis using homemade recipes.