Gin from the heart of Stockholm – Stockholms Bränneri

Gin – my second favorite topic after wine. I don’t know if I have mentioned where this obsession started from? London of course. It was there, under the railway arches in Bermondsey I had my first taste of small batch “boutique” gin from a Danish ginmaker called Jensen’s. I was expecting to grimace after a sip of raw gin, but to my surprise the taste was soft and silky. It was one of those aha-experiences, where I realizes that the gins I have been drinking before have just been questionab quality. That day, spirits went back on the shopping list again, but only quality spirits. And I am happy to announce that I have found a local favorite here in Stockholm: Stockholms Bränneri. Continue reading “Gin from the heart of Stockholm – Stockholms Bränneri”

Wineweek 155: Gin and Tonic

Fall is in full speed right now: cold winds, drizzle and pitch black evenings. However, if you are lucky, you have the type of weather we had today: crisp and sunny and on the better side of +/- 10 degrees. These are the kind of days that makes me happy about having four seasons in a year. Fall can be great at its best. And its a perfect time for some game, light red wine and spiced gin&tonics.  Continue reading “Wineweek 155: Gin and Tonic”

Wineweek 151: The Opening Weekend

The leaves are starting to fall. There is only two weeks left of September. The winter is coming. In a week, we will escape the cold weather to Barcelona. Unless the cold weather is waiting for us there. I have heard concerning weather reports from past weeks. There is also another reason for concern, which is the Catalonian referendum. The closer to the date we come, the more unrest is to be expected. I’m trying not to think too much of that, and this weekends events have been the perfect escape: Wine at the cellar, making cocktails at home and opening party of the new Johan & Nyström concept store in the center. Continue reading “Wineweek 151: The Opening Weekend”

The Little Gin Bar at Nytorget – Bar Agrikultur

Nytorget is kind of a hipster-cool city oasis. It’s a little park in SoFo (South of Folkungagatan), Södermalm, surrounded by charity shops and vegan cafes. I have long avoided hanging out there. Not because I don’t like second hand or vegan, but rather because it is so crowded by locals and tourists and the food and drinks selection has been limited. This summer, everything has changed – Bar Agrikultur has opened next to the park. Now, I have been hanging out around Nytorget every week. Other newcomers, like Café Pasqal opening a branch there will make it even more attractive. Continue reading “The Little Gin Bar at Nytorget – Bar Agrikultur”

Wineweek 119: February Favorites

For those who have been reading this blog:  you know I am not a winter person (I was clearly born in the wrong country). However, February is a month of hope. Days are getting longer, skies clearer, and they sell these awesome plush buns with whipped cream and almond mass in the middle. You eat them until the end of February when the buns have their own signature day: Fettisdagen (fatday).  With more light, there is a feel of having more time; and I am not so tired all the time. This week we did a lot of stuff at home. I even baked (bake-off croissants. Haha!), and got an inspiration for making some cocktails at home.  Continue reading “Wineweek 119: February Favorites”

Wineweek 72: Easter in Helsinki

It has been a mad March. We have been working hard: ordering summer wines and looking for a new warehouse. We also did a short wine trip to the city we fell in love in – London. All the buzzing around came to a nice relaxing halt when we flew on Thursday to Finland for relaxing Easter celebrations.  There is nothing like coming to a ready set table. While in Helsinki, we had the chance to try some nice Finnish Gin, visit one of our favorite wine bars as well as finally try out one of the most talked-about Helsinki restaurants, the Michelin-starred Chef & Sommelier.  Continue reading “Wineweek 72: Easter in Helsinki”

Cocktails and Ships at Bottles Pop-Up Bar, Stockholm

Imagine old wooden chairs and tables, figureheads and miniature ships. And imagine holding a rum cocktail with zesty lemon peel and a huge ice cube floating in the middle. There is no music, just steady murmur coming from the other tables and the clinking of ice against your glass. There is no rush, and the calm bar invites you to relax.

Bottles Pop-Up bar is all about the drinks. It is run by three Stockholm bartenders with merits from Little Quarter, Shibumi and Lilla Nygatan. The Pop-Up bar has an interesting concept, it moves around within the Gamla Stan restaurant scene, and the theme changes with every venue. Right now it is located in the Victory Hotel (the Congress Center) and houses a theme loyal to the venue style. I have previously written to you about Tweed, the semi-speakeasy cocktail bar inside the hotel (review here). Bottles current style is similar, however it feels less clubby and more genuine. Other venues will include restaurants (by the same owner) in the Gamla Stam/ Lilla Nygatan are: Pubologi, Djuret, Svinet, Lejontornet, Tweed and Burgundy.

I was at Bottles for some afterwork drinks with fellow Yelpers. We arrived early, around 6pm and had no trouble finding a seat. Ok, we even had a reservation, but we would have found a seat nonetheless. We were offered a drinks menu with around seven different cocktails that all were named after ships of past and present. Ingredients included all of the usual suspects: rum, gin, tequila and bourbon. I was perhaps a bit disappointed that the spirits used were quite main stream: Bacardi, London Dry and other big brands (very un-hipster). The mixers were the ones to set the mood with tastes of rosehip, marinated fruits and ginger ale. Every cocktail was named after a boat and had a story, which the bartenders introduced when serving the drinks. I had a Carina II with variations of old wine (tasted a bit like fortified wine), grapefruit and champagne, and a Rumbullion with Bacardi, Havanna Club, Captain Morgan, Barbancourt and Gunroom and Sour. Both cocktails were very good and fit the historic atmosphere of the hotel.

All in all, a fun concept with spiced with tasty drinks and great service. I am already excited about where the bar moves next and looking forward to exploring what kind of drinks the other venues have to offer.

Gin-Perfection by Jensen’s

It is Thursday again, and the day of the week I have dedicated to cocktails. This week though I do not have a bar review, there have been enough of those for a week. Instead I thought about telling you about my favorite gin, Jensen’s.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when we met, Jensen’s and I. We were taking a walk (M and I) through the Maltby St Market, as we did many weekend mornings while living in London. And as we were passing the railway arches occupied by familiar pastry and cheese stalls we spotted something new, a gin distillery. Curious as we are we ventured in and a nice lady invited us to have some gin-tasters, straight up 10am in the morning. Why not! Against all of my expectations, the gin tasted fresh and earthy with no bitterness whatsoever. So this is what good gin tastes like!

Jensen’s is owned by Danish Christian Jensen, who has drawn his inspiration from his collection of (900) old style vintage Gins. Through his research into the golden era of London gin-making, Christian discovered the legacy of the trade in his (our) neighborhood of Bermondsey. To celebrate this he named his first gin Bermondsey Dry. The project was never supposed to go commercial, however, once the word got out London bartenders started asking for more and more, thus Bermondsey Gin Limited was born. Christians second project, inspired by an old gin-makers handbook resulted in Old Tom’s, a naturally sweet and rooty gin that has since become a cult amongst bartenders and gin-geeks (hipsters).The ambition was simply to make a gin in the lost style, as good as can be.

Bermondsey Dry and Old Tom's
Bermondsey Dry and Old Tom’s

That sunny Saturday morning, we were contemplating whether to buy some gin to take home. Should we buy the Bermondsey Dry, the clean and botanical gin that could just be enjoyed straight up, or Old Tom’s, the 1840s legendary recipe that is excellent for cocktails (it makes a mean GT). M’s response was ‘why choose when you can buy both’. And that my friends is how two bottles of Jensen’s gin moved in with us and has provided us with quality cocktails for several years and years to come.

Now this is not at all a blog for food/drink recipes, but I really want to share this one with you, as it is a perfect pairing with Jensen’s Gin (Old Tom’s):

For a whole canister of cocktails: 8-10 drinks:
1 whole cucumber (200g)
1.5 dl fresh lemon juice (3 x lemon)
1.5 dl fresh lime juice (3-4 x lime)
2dl fresh Mint
2dl fresh Lemon balm
1dl honey or a pinch of Stevia (or a mix of both depending on the sweetness you desire)
6dl water
Gin at your discretion

Throw the cucumber, mint, lemon balm and juices into a mixer and run it full speed to make a smoothie-like mash. Mix in the honey/Stevia carefully to acquire your optimal level of sweetness (I tend to use less and less). Mix the green smoothie with water, and add some sweeteners if needed. Bottle the juice (or pour directly into glasses) through a mesh. Voila! Mix with your discretion of Jensen’s Old Tom’s gin.

The ingredients
The ingredients
Mix the cucumber, mint, lemon balm and juices together
Mix the cucumber, mint, lemon balm and juices together
Use a kitchen mesh to filter out the bigger particles
Use a kitchen mesh to filter out the bigger particles
Voila, your mixer is ready. Just add the gin!
Voila, your mixer is ready. Just add the gin!

Jensen’s is unfortunately not sold in the Nordic countries, but if you are visiting the UK, it is available through a few different resellers. However, if in London, I warmly recommend to take that walk along the railway arches to the distillery (start either from London Bridge or Bermondsey tube station) it is open Saturdays for tastings and long drinks. On the way you can pick up some wonderful coffee and snacks from the different vendors that have set up shop in the railway arches of Bermondsey.

Reviving the reputation of Punch

It’s Thursday again and I am in the mood for cocktails! I think I will be having some wine tonight, but still writing about cocktails gets me in the appropriate holiday mood. However, today I will not be writing about a traditional cocktail bar, the Punch Room is something else! It is not only a bar, it is the revival of a drink long forgotten on the restaurant scene, the punch.

The bar is located in the new Marriott London Edition hotel in Fitzrovia. It is a back room bar, not really visible from the street and it is reservation only. I am sure you can get a seat when its not that busy even without a reservation, but if you are intent on going, don’t leave it up to chance. The bar is located past the reception through a door on the left. If the doors is closed you may need to ask to be escorted in. The bar consists of two rooms, the first is fairly small and does not really look that nice or cozy. The inner room however has a fire place and a nice looking bar with comfortable seating.

Upon being seated we received a small glass each of the seasonal special punch as a welcome drink. Nice little touch and something I appreciate. As the name suggests the focus is on punch that can be ordered to share. Other things can be ordered as well, like wine, beer and some cocktails (and they also do food – made by the kitchen from Berner’s Tavern) but we were there for the real deal, the house punch. Traditionally punch consisits of five ingredients (one of which is definitely not tinned fruit salad): an alcohol base, tea, some sugar to sweeten, lemon to sour, and spice. The House Punch was faithful to this combination with London Gin, lemon, oak moss syrup, orange blossom water and jasmine tea.

The punch was served in a really nice looking bowl with cool glasses and the appropriate decorations. The taste was fresh with light sweetness. The drink had a kick to it and there was plenty so we had to be a bit careful and not gulp it down too fast. The concept would perhaps work even better for a large group as one could then sample loads of different ones. Service was fast and attentive. Price level was as to be expected in London with around 14£ per person for a punch bowl (right now though the exchange rate would kill me).

Perhaps it is the house parties of the 90’s or my student years that steered my low expectations for punch, but the Marriot Punch room was the one to revive them. I am sure I will be back as I appreciate the different concept and being able to book a table (I am the planning type). So if in London, give it a try, you will not be disappointed.