Copenhagen cocktail
A Copenhagen cocktail at Bar Dansk, Melbourne. Photo: Eddie Jim

Michael Harden

Google ''Eurovision Drinking Game'' and it immediately becomes apparent that it's not an original idea. But instead of greeting that setback with pouting and threats to call the whole gathering off, why not expand your liquor vocabulary instead and culturally theme the drinks you'll be tossing back every time a wind machine or a mutated national costume makes an appearance.

Fortuitously, there is a cocktail called the Copenhagen which, given that the Danish capital is this year's Eurovision HQ, seems the logical place to start. There are several versions of the Copenhagen floating about but one of the more thematically appropriate is a mix of one part bourbon, one part apricot liqueur and one-quarter part Gammel Dansk, a bitter, Fernet Branca-type Danish liquor made with about 29 different herbs and spices. All the ingredients go into an ice-filled cocktail shaker, where they're vigorously shaken then strained into a cocktail coup and garnished with lemon.

Given that Gammel Dansk has become a staple at Danish Easter, Christmas and birthday celebrations since it was launched in the early 1960s, there are obviously more traditional ways to consume it than in a cocktail. The Scandinavian love of a celebratory toast means that drinking straight shots, slightly chilled, is one of the most popular ways it is consumed. But Gammel Dansk is also known as a breakfast drink in Denmark (more an occasion breakfast than everyday, for most people) and is sometimes served room temperature with coffee. One of its handiest tricks, though, is being able to put a bit of spine into a lacklustre beer. Throwing a shot into a beer makes it more interesting, with an attractively dark and bitter undertone.

Then, of course, there is always akvavit. Like all of their Nordic neighbours, the Danes have a version of the distilled grain spirit that is usually served chilled and drunk as a shot. If you were thinking that akvavit, with its cool name and deliciously savoury dill/caraway undertones, would be the perfect drink for your Eurovision drinking game, you may need to tighten the rules slightly as it usually weighs in at a pretty hefty 40 per cent alcohol by volume. It goes brilliantly with salty, oily fish snacks, which, if you want your themed party to have any authenticity, you'll need to have on hand.

The Danes often drink akvavit with dark beer, though the purists will tell you to drink the spirit first as the beer will ruin the purity of the flavour. But, then again, you're watching Eurovision and so purity is probably not first on the list of priorities. Skol!