The bar with no ice | White Lyan

Much overdue, I finally managed to stop by White Lyan for some cocktails. I was very curious about this concept, quite a ballsy statement, with no ice and no citrus.
No need to worry though – the drinks are delicious!

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Moby Dick Sazerac

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Layered Negroni

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WL3

Bone Dry Martini

 

WL4

Monkey Ball

 

WL5

Beeswax Old Fashioned

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WL2

White Guinness

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World Class 50 | Definitive Drinking Guide

The World Class 50 Definitive Drinking Guide is out.

It’s a guide that gives you some inside tips on where to go and what to see in the 44 cities of this years World Class finalists.

My feature is about Oslo, obviously, and I promise I’ll do a post sometime soon with more tips on what to see and what to do when visiting!

A trip down (menu) memory lane

Having an office day today, working on a new menu concept for a bar in Oslo.

I always start off my menu planning making mood-boards, finding it very inspirational, and useful, to visualise my ideas. It also makes it easier to present the concept to others at a later stage, and make your ideas transform into actual reality.

Ingredients

This menu will build upon nordic flavours, using seasonal ingredients and techniques, as well as local drinking traditions such as aquavit and beer.

Key words – simple, clean, rustic flavours.

This project also lets me work with my favourite designer, Frekk Strek, which I’ve worked with previously on all the menus at Aqua Vitae.
Finding a designer that understands what you want is so important, but finding a designer who understands what you want AND how to make your ideas even better is invaluable!

Our first, and opening menu, was simple, to the point and quite clean. We wanted to keep it simple, and let our guests get to know us and our drinks, without going to crazy.

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Our second menu was inspired by street/pop art and comic books, and we decided to let loose a bit more, meaning bigger flavours and louder design. We also started collaborating with different street artist, who displayed paintings inspired by the menu in our bar.

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Our last menu, contrasting the previous, was inspired by fairy tales and had a more romantic feel to it. If I remember correctly, I think my spec said : “Imagine a cocktail book written as a fairy tale for kids last century”. I never imagined it to be this beautiful though.

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Cocktails in Copenhagen

Im back in London after a wonderful weekend in Denmark.
Most of the time was spent on Fyn (Funen) with my family, but we decide to spend one extra night in Copenhagen before flying back home.

Copenhagen is not big on going out on sundays, but we managed to stop by some bars all the same, starting at Mikkeller Bar in Vesterbro.
It’s one of two bars in the city, run by the team behind Mikkeller brewery, and since this one was just around the corner from our hotel, we decided to leave Mikkeller and Friends  in Nørrebro for our next visit.

I was first introduced to Mikkeller back in 2009, with their Beer Geek Breakfast, and ever since, it has been my favourite craft brewery. I love their style of brewing, their playfulness both in names and brews, and of course – I love their bars!

Mikeller

They always keep a selection of beers on tap, while at the same time offering a bigger selection of bottled beers. We tried the Orange Yuzu Glad I Said Porter (Left) and Limoncello IPA (Right) – both amazing! The latter might be an all-time-favourite.

Later on, we made our way over to Ourselves Alone (Badstuestrædet 7, 1209 Copenhagen) for a couple of drinks, even though they normally keep closed on sundays. Lucky for us, because the drinks were delicious!

ourselves alone

We finished the evening at one of Copenhagen’s finest – Ruby.

I have always enjoyed this bar, and for some reason, I always start every visit with the same drink – Ruby Daiquiri. It was the first drink I tasted, the first time I visited , and it never lets me down. I absolutely love rhubarb in drinks, actually ignore that, I absolutely love rhubarb.

ruby daiquiri

The Herbaceous D was equally delicious, made with aquavit, parsley, dill & mint. Almost like a nordic twist on a Mojito. I love it when a drink reads well in the menu, and also drinks well when you get it. Having an awesome name at the same time, its a win/win situation.

ruby

I am already looking forward to my next visit to Copenhagen, hoping it will be sooner rather than later, so I can tick of some more boxes on my “Places I wish to visit in Copenhagen” list.

Final Round Challenges – Speed Round

This was, for me at least, one of the most anticipated challenges of the whole competition. Cocktails against the clock gives you a chance to show the judges, all 8 of them, how you actually work behind a bar.

The drinks I had chosen for my round was:

Improved Whisky Cocktail | Talisker 10 | Stirred
Pink Gin | Tanqueray no Ten | Stirred
Rosita | Don Julio Blanco | Stirred
Coffee Cocktail | Zacapa 23 | Shaken
The Master Cleanse | Ketel One | Shaken
Batanga | Don Julio Blanco | Built
Moscow Mule | Ketel One | Built
Tropical Thing Sling | Tanqueray no Ten | Shaken

As opposed to some of my competitors, I chose to start off all the drinks at once, in order to streamline the service as much as possible.
When I practised this at home, my fastest time was 08.13, so I knew I should be able to execute all 8 drinks within the 10 minute time limit, even with the nerves kicking in.

In my opinion, there are a few key steps to surviving a speed round in WC.
– Read the rules
– Before you do anything, decide everything : choose what drinks to make, and what measures to use. You need to be exact, this way you wont have to worry how your drinks are going to taste during your round.
– Map out your routine on paper before you practise it behind the bar, then go back an adjust it after you’ve run through it a couple of times.
– Practise your routine as many times you can, with everything you’ll need for the drinks. “Dry runs” does not count!
– Never assume anything! If you need it – Bring it!

Personally, I felt good about my round, and I think this was my strongest challenge during the competition. I still have the Madrid round fresh in mind, so it felt really good to prove, if only to myself, that I can do it.

Cocktail against the clock also marked another significant moment, the end of the competition. This was the final challenge, and the end of an exhausting, but fantastic week.

Tuesday Night Glitz

No one does hotel bars quite like London. Besides the old school glamour and indulgence, I particularly love how they seem to always bring hospitality to a whole new level.

Last night was my first visit to Rivoli Bar at The Ritz, but it will definitely not be my last.

Spritz has been my go-to-drink all summer, so it was no surprise that The Blush caught my eye on the menu. It was so delicious, the perfect start to any evening, but particularly a late summer evening.

the blush

At some point during the last couple of years, I’ve realised that I really, really love tequila. However, with a few exceptions, I haven’t been a big fan of stirred tequila drinks. More often than not, I find them flat or not packing enough tequila punch. I mean, if you’re going to make a drink with tequila – why hide it?

This drink, Lord of Jalisco, is not one of those drinks. This was amazing!

Lord of Jalisco

One of the Signatures at Rivoli is the Ritz Manhattan. It comes in a beautiful vintage shaker, made especially for the hotel in the early 1900s, with the garnish resting on the side in a small silver jewellery box.
You can choose between 3 different aged finishes, orange& vanilla, red berries or allspice, all of them made in house.

Ritz ManhattanRitz Manhattan 2

They also have a selection of vintage spirits, and I was lucky enough to taste both Martini Rosso, Campari, Maraschino and Angostura Bitters from the 1940-1960’s. Very cool.

First Round Challenges – Mediterranean Mastery

My first challenge was the Mediterranean Mastery, and we were asked to create two cocktails inspired by the area surrounding the Mediterranean.  I chose to make two quite different cocktails, one based on a country very close to my heart, Greece, and the other on one of my favourite flavour memories of the Med, Rosé wine.

My first drink, Inception Martini, was inspired by Greece and the island of Crete.
Inception meaning Starting point of something, reflects that I started my bartending career in Greece many years ago.
I chose a martini style drink because Dry Martini was one of the first drink I learnt how to make, and still to this day it’s one of my favo drinks to enjoy. And of course, one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Crete – Olive oil!

Inception Martini
65 ml Qlive Oil infused Tanqueray no Ten
15 ml Bianco Vermouth
1 dash Aphrodite Bitters
Lemon zest

Stirred on ice, strain into prechilled coctail coupe. Zest the lemon peel over the drink and discard.

I served the drink on a small wooden plate made of olive tree.
With the drink I also had a side snack, a pipette filled with olive oil (same I used to fat wash the gin, from Sitia, Crete) and on it I put a grapefruit segment and a kalamata olive.

While i kept all the classic elements of a martini, (gin, vermouth, lemon/olive) I changed the way they appear in the drink. Fatwashing the T-Ten with olive oil adds a richness to the mouthfeel of the drink, and it gives it a peppery dry finish, which is why I decided to go with a bianco vermouth instead of the dry. I used the Aphrodite (goddess of Love) bitters to get the coffee and chocolate notes, which in my opinion works amazingly to give the drink a long finish.

For my second drink, Wild at Heart, I wanted to capture the feel of my favo tipple from this area ( we were docked just outside St.Tropez at that time) – Rosé wine.

Wild at Heart
45 ml Don Julio Blanco
20 ml Cocchi Americano Rosa
20 ml Pink grapefruit juice
15 ml 8 Brix Red Verjus
1 dash Peychauds Bitter
Sumac and salt rim
Edible gold

Throw the drink with ice, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe with sumac and salt rim. Garnish with edible gold on the stem of the glass.

The easiest way to describe how the drink tastes is to picture this: Imagine if Paloma went on a holiday to the south of France and fell in love with a winemaker. This would be their baby.

The drink is light and refreshing, and it feels almost like sitting down with a nice glass of rosé. Both Don Julio Blanco and Cocchi Americano Rosa has grapefruit notes, so mixing them with fresh grapefruit works really well. The verjus, made from both ice wine grapes, unripe grapes and ripe grapes, is both sweet and sour at the same time and together with the other ingredients gives depth to the drink, keeping it tasty even as the drink warms up a bit while you drink it.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the drinks, but will update if I get hold of some.
Update: I got some pics of my drinks from the lovely Angela Maridaki – Thank you so much!

Monica Berg World Class 2013

Me moments before I started my first challenge

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Wild at Heart

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Inception Martini

All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images ( except the Insta pic I stole from Guri)

Madrid Day 2

The second day had two challenges, one award ceremony and plenty of nerves!

Need for Speed

Remember how I said that 8 minutes to make cocktails is quite long, but with the addition of nerves, it might still be a perfect plot for bartender meltdown? Well – shame on me for telling, because that’s exactly what happened in my case.

I felt quite well prepared and ready until the countdown, and then it hit:

Judges: “Are you ready”

Me: “Yes”

Judges: “3,2,1 – Go”

Me:

The conversation inside my head though, was something like this:
Holy hippo what am I doing here?? Wasn’t I supposed to do something? Ah, Im making drinks – but which?

As the initial fog lifted, I was able to regain my head, and make my round of drinks:

Ketel One Sour, Ketel One Moscow Mule, Rob Roy (And yes, I did use Blue Label), Rosita and Last Word

Mixing drinks

Calm on the outside – chaos on the inside

World Class Madrid Speed challenge

Our lovely judges: Simon Difford, Dennis Tamse & Fjalar Goud

After the speed challenge I was quite down. To be honest, I wanted to go jump in the ocean (lucky for me Madrid doesn’t have one). However, it made me realise something very important. Since I was training for this and knew what to expect, it was very disappointing when I couldn’t deliver. The judges though, who saw and tasted it for the first time, had no idea what to expect and therefor didn’t have any expectations.

But what if this ever happen again? Well…..

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My last challenge of the day was the Cannes Red Carpet challenge.

The Signature Cocktail

My cocktail was inspired by Morgan Freeman for two reasons: 1) He’s been one of my favo actors since I first saw him in Shawshank Redemption and 2) I wanted an actor that has the same souave character as the spirit.

When you look back on Mr. Freemans career, its quite interesting how certain dates kind of pop out.
Take for instance his breakthrough on the silver screen, Street Smart from 1987. This was the same year Don Julio Gonzales’s sons created a tequila bearing their fathers name in celebration of his 45 years as a tequila maker.
There is no doubt Don Julio Tequila has changed the world of tequila, and the impact it has had can be summed up in Mr. Freemans 1985 movie title –  “That was then….This is now”.

The name of my drink was inspired by Mr. Morgans 2003 movie Dreamcatcher, because I feel it captures the spirit of Don Julio Gonzales. He had a dream, and through hard work and passion, he dedicated his life to following that dream. 2003 was the year he decided to retire, and pass his legacy on to Mr Enrique de Colsa, the current Master Distiller at Don Julio.

A dreamcatcher is also an object said to filter someones dream, letting only the “good” dreams pass while catching the “bad ones” in the net.
I am definitely a dreamer, and I’ve had mine since I was young, I felt this was the perfect occasion to use it.

dreamcatcher

Monica Berg 1

Dreamcatcher 
45 ml Don Julio Blanco
20 ml Fresh Lemon juice
20 ml Plum & Frankincense syrup
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitter

Shake, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe.
Garnish with edible flowers dusted in Plum powder.

Monica Berg 4 copy

Ritual Bottle Serve

For this serve I used Sofia Coppola, who just like Tanqueray no Ten comes from a great family legacy. Nevertheless, she chose her own path and through her career as a screen writer and director, she not only excelled but also pushed boundaries with great success. Her movies often have grand themes, but at the end of the day, what they really capture is the relationships and meeting between people.

My serve is a tribute to exactly that – The perfect serve when people meet.

The beauty of the gin and tonic is in the simplicity. It’s one of the few drinks that is loved regardless of generation, gender or nationality, and its also one of those drinks equally loved by people on both sides of the bar. While it’s definitely open for interpretation, a Tanqueray no Ten and Tonic will never be Lost in Translation.

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In the top chamber i used different fruit and vegetables that all marries well with the gin, while in the second one I used the different citrus fruits found in Tanqueray no Ten.

Monica Berg 5

The Cannes Red Carpet

Camera – Action – Go!

In this challenge competitors have to create one Signature Cocktail and one Bottle Serve inspired by:

“writers, directors or the stars of the silver screen from the traditions of European cinema or anyone who has graced the red carpet at the Cannes Film festival. They can be a living legend or a screen god or goddess from the past. Anyone who inspires your creativity and has resonance with the public can fit the bill. ”

Unknown

One of the serves must include Tanqueray no Ten, other than that we can pretty much do whatever we want:

“You can use any glassware or barware appropriate to the cocktails and there are no restrictions on the methods you use to make the drinks. In either your cocktail or your bottle serve the other ingredients can include home-made ingredients or specialised items like particular spices, fruits or liqueurs.

You can accompany the serve with a variety of condiments, ‘Sangrita’ style juices or other liquids or small edibles. You can dress the service in any way you like, with photographs, special linen, use music etc. This is your chance to entertain and amuse.”

In other words – Go Mad, Go Nuts!

cannes-film-festival

See you at the theatre