More trouble and less snobbery at cocktail bars.
There are probably not a worse time to visit New Orleans in the United states than July. But it was not the world’s leading bartenders, spirits producers and cocktail geeks back when they last week flocked to the world’s largest cocktail festival in New Orleans rear summer heat.
At the festival, Tales of the Cocktail met about 50,000 cocktail geeks over 6 days to exchange inspiration, network and drink, a lot of drinks.
Nick Kobbernagel Hovind, barmanager at Copenhagen bars Ruby and Lidkoeb, is one of the Danish bartenders, who has just returned from a week of intense working holiday in the US.
We have spoken with him and Sune Risum Urth, bar manager at the Copenhagen restaurant no.2s cocktail bar for a chat about the most significant trends right now: What should be in your glass and in what context you must lift it.
More fun, less nerd stuff
Nick Kobbernagel Hovind believes that there is a major trend that applies to cocktail bars around the world: It is more about service and less about nerd stuff.
– What inspired me most in New Orleans, was that focuses more on the guests and less on bartender geek Ministry. As a bartender, you try to hit it, what guests want, instead of wanting to show what they can, he said.
– The days where the bartender rolls his eyes, if you order a pina colada is gone. It’s a must to be festive, drinking cocktails, says the barmanager.
The observation can also be read at the world’s leading cocktail blogs like Nick Kobbernagel Hovind judge snobbery out and the hospitality in.
The trend is not just defined what you have in the glass, but also to the bar’s decor. While the hippest bars a few years ago were small, musty and living room-like cocktail bars inspired by prohibiting time speakeasies, several leading bars are now larger and more festive.
– It is a general trend that cocktail bars will be larger and changes character of such a small, dark speakeasy bar to great places like Trick Dog in San Francisco, which has a larger volume and where the music is louder and were it is a little more festive, says Nick Kobbernagel Hovind.
Sune Risum Urth agree.
– The type of bars that has been called speakeasy – with chandeliers, carpets, jazz, cocktails from dusty books – the market is saturated and it is no longer a story in itself. I expect the trend to move towards the more raw in places where one can laugh out loud and guzzle one Boilermaker (a cocktail consisting of a shot of whiskey poured into a beer, ed.), Says Sune Risum Urth.
He stresses that there is also a financial reason for the tiny bars are on the way out:
– I think we’re going to see a decline in the number of tiny places. 12 seats just makes it hard to make ends meet, he said.
This does not mean that the prohibition time favorites like the hyped drink Old Fashioned is coming out of the bars menu, think Nick Kobbernagel Hovind.
– The strong cocktails from Prohibition is still the backbone of cocktail culture – one can consider it as bartenders response to the French cuisine, says Nick Kobbernagel Hovind.
Another trend both bartenders points out is the emergence of good bottled drinks, primarily for use in bars, but perhaps also soon in a supermarket near you.
– Ready-made cocktails on tap and bottled is gaining ground everywhere, says Sune Risum Urth.
While drinks bottled was once synonymous with prefabricated cocktails that were so sweet that they were diabetes-inducing, they are now used in several of the world’s cocktail bars and are making their entry into the hotels’ mini bars.
The prefabricated cocktails do not come from a factory: the bartenders in bars as White Lyan in London experimenting for weeks with the ingredients and methods before putting a drink in bottles. All kinds of cocktail writers are enthusiastic: White Lyan exclusively serves prefabricated drinks, is on the prestigious list of the world’s 50 best bars.
According to Sune Risum Urth, the advantage is that bartenders can geek out, before guests arrive, but concentrate on the service, when the bar opens:
– It opens up new opportunities – pressure treated and cocktails on kegs, stuff that takes hours or days to make but can be served in seconds, says Sune Risum Urth about the trend.
Both in Denmark and abroad cocktail bars have come into the restaurants and been inspired by the kitchens, to the delight of the two experienced bartenders.
– It is a trend that has already come to Denmark, which only gets bigger. It only makes sense that a restaurant that makes a good wine list and champagne also should be able to make good drinks, says Nick Kobbernagel Hovind. Ruby (A high class restaurant) have long focused on using local, seasonal ingredients in their drinks.
According to Sune Risum Urth who is the bar-manager the cocktail bar at the restaurant no.2 – AOC’s younger brother – guests also have a more open and serious approach when they drink cocktails at a restaurant where it is more about the taste than to get gasoline for urban explorers night out.
– Guests have a slightly different relationship with the menu in restaurants than in bars. It is very rare that our guests for example skims a menu, and finds there is something they know, and then order a mojito, he says.
Drink less, but drink more often
Nick Kobbernagel Hovind says that Copenhagen is well on the beat when it comes to the number and quality of cocktail bars, but the Danes are still lagging behind the Americans on one point:
– The chance to get a good cocktail is higher if you go out in Copenhagen than in a city in the US, but it’s a completely different culture. The Danes are bad to go out and have a drink without drinking all the way down, he says.
– In the United States drink 89% of all Americans drink alcohol in a week, while the figure in Denmark is 54%. Danes must be better to go out and get a single drink, he says. What is the number in East Africa, could be a good question?
He says that drinks with lower alcohol content is gaining international, something that makes it easier to take a single drink before dinner.
– This is a trend we have known would be coming for many years, and claims arising from aperitif wave from Italy, says Nick Kobbernagel Hovind.
When he develops menus for Ruby and Lidkoeb with his colleagues, it is not alcohol content that determines which drinks that comes on the map:
– We have had drinks with lower alcohol content at both bars, but it still has to be more about good taste than the alcohol content, he says of the trend.
According to Sune Risum Urth there is an old trend that continues to be focused on: ice. For several years, bartenders worldwide experimented with how to use ice to control the temperature of a drink and avoid that the ice melts, so that your whiskey don’t end up like a glass of very expensive whiskey-tasting water before you when to drink it.
The response has often been to use large blocks of ice instead of ice that melts faster. The problem is that the large, crystal clear ice blocks often results in drinks that are more expensive for the customer and cumbersome to prepare for the bartender to stand and tacks ice:
– Ice cream is one of the fronts that really happens something on. We still have to find a way to make it functional, but I believe that ice picks and big blocks of crystal clear ice is here to stay, says Sune Risum Urth of the work to ensure that ice does not melt and water down your drink.
Bars, focusing on one alcohol
Finally, several cocktail blogs to cocktail bars that focus on a single type of alcohol – for example mezcalbarer, whiskey bars or ginbarer – is gaining ground.
It is “no.2s” cocktail bar an example of – here the focus is on aquavit and schnapps. Lidkoeb has a whiskey bar on the top floor, where you can not get anything else than whiskey, and at the bar “The Bird & the Churchkey” at Gammel Strand they only serves gin. The same trend is seen in other countries.
Sune Risum Urth think there are several reasons for the popularity of this tendency: it is easy to convey to the visitors, easy to explain to the media, and it places great demands on the bartender’s creativity.
– As a bartender I find that the colossal Obstructions that it is, it is also creatively liberating in a big way, says Sune Risum Urth.
– The Cocktail industry has shown that we are here to stay and that we have gotten through. Especially if the bars are slightly different from each other, I think there is room for plenty of bars, he says.
Go out to enjoy a drink, a cocktail, while socializing, don’t just go out to drink your head of.