We're anticipating the reopening of bars - but will our industry come out better or worse than it went in?

As of today, Denmark is headed for brighter days. It’s the first month of Spring, and the first easing of this winter’s lockdown has begun with shops smaller than 5000 m2 allowed to open to customers. 

Unfortunately, bars will have to wait. In the step-by-step plan to reopen the country, our industry has received the lowest priority. And with border restrictions in place, it’s also no longer possible to hop over to Sweden to have a quick cocktail fix. 

We’re all looking forward to the bars reopening. The further the lockdown drags on, the bigger the impact on the industry. And not just financially. In the first episode of the Liquid Matters podcast, the owner of Puss Puss, Ted Dako, predicted that “we will lose a lot of talent after corona”. It is a risk we have to be aware of if we are to avoid that outcome. The continued stagnation of our industry is not just putting bars at risk of closure and forcing prominent bartenders to seek employment elsewhere. It is putting a massive strain on the mental wellbeing of both owners and staff. Once we reopen, how many of us will have the energy to slap on a smile and get back to business as usual?

One of the main goals behind Liquid Matters is to provide relief in some form to the community. Both by giving a voice to the industry, but even more so by sharing news, content, tools and inspiration that can help make the bar, beverage and spirit business a career choice for anyone with the passion to embark on the journey. Representation is a powerful tool for enabling talent to push through. And that’s why we too, in spite of the heaviness of this lockdown, continue to write these newsletters for you.  

International Women’s Day - a cause for celebration.

Speaking of representation, on 8th March it is International Women’s Day. And so, we’ve decided to let this month’s newsletter be exclusively voiced by some of the many women who base their life around liquid matter.

Let us tell you a story. A couple of years ago on IWD, we opened Instagram to check out what our favourite bars around the world were doing to celebrate. As it turned out, most of them decided to mark the day with a ladies special offer: 2-4-1 on cocktails. The disappointment happened not just due to the fact that the cocktails on offer were heavily sweetened, had a vibrant pink colour or a name straight out of Sex and The City, it also came about because very few venues thought of mentioning their female manager, head bartender, female bartending icon or similar in any of their celebration posts. Women in the industry were overlooked for the sake of making business on female clients. 

One of the main things we’re taught as bartenders is to never talk politics with guests. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t mean we should shy away from political issues altogether. In some ways, the bar resembles an educational institution, and we as the “teachers” have the power to influence our guests' opinion, perceptions and point of view. The hospitality industry is considered more open than many other industries, yet bias and discrimination make its way to the bar too, assigning gender to stemware, spirits and percentage of C2H6O molecules in a liquid. Not just for the sake of the industry, but for the wellbeing of our coworkers and friends, it’s important to challenge these stereotypes.

Throughout March, we’ll be posting cocktail recipes and interviews with female bartenders from all over Denmark, sharing their stories and perspectives from within the industry. Kirsten Holm shares her recommendation for her fellow bartenders in this month’s Spotlight. And for the podcast, we’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with the founder of Slowburn craft brewery, Amalie Knage, to find out what it takes to open a brewery, pairing beer with fine-dining and the complexities of sustainability in the brewing business. 

In short, lots of great stories from lots of great professionals. 

Header: Behind the scenes of the making of this month's newsletter. Photo by Alexander Banck-Petersen.

Keep reading for:

  • News and events - things you need to know about.

  • Check THEM out! - bring the bar home.

  • Podcast: Craft Brewing with Amalie Knage from Slowburn.

  • Droplets - industry-related content you should definitely check out.

  • Spotlight: Kirsten Holm - voices from the industry recommends.

NEWS AND EVENTS

  • Nordic Spirits, together with Craft Makers Collective, is hosting a virtual cocktail tasting on 3rd April during the Easter holiday. Rather than simply having a cocktail live session, the virtual tasting invites people into three Danish cocktail bars, with staff from each venue hosting their segment of the tasting. Tickets can be bought here.

  • G.L.O.W. community is having a global brew-along on 8th March to celebrate International Women’s Day. From Rwanda to Amager, female brewers and brewhouse employees are getting together to turn Yakima Chief’s Pink Boots Blend (named after the non-profit organisation Pink Boots Society dedicated to female brewers globally) into a beer for their own brewery. Not only is it for a good cause, but it’s also a fun experiment: Malt and hops are set, but other than that, it is up to the brewers to determine what yeast, water temperature etc. they want to work with to create whichever type of beer they fancy. You can check out if your local brewery is part of the initiative here. Otherwise, the final product should contain GLOW somewhere in the name - if you find it, please share it to Instagram and tag us and G.L.O.W @truliquidmatters @glow.beer to let us know!

  • World Class Competition is now open for entries! This year’s competition zooms in on the classic high ball, challenging participants to manifest their interpretation of heritage in a cocktail. Centred around the Johnny Walker Black label, this year’s competition started out with a series of Facebook masterclasses on the history of the high ball, carbonation, cordials and bar techniques, still available to watch via Facebook. The entry deadline is April 4th at 23:59 CET via Diageo's website.

CHECK THEM OUT

  • Kyros & Co bottle shop is open throughout March. In last month’s newsletter, we revealed that Torvehallerne would soon get a new bottleshop and cocktail bar. But with the restrictions being prolonged, thirsty souls are forced to wait a bit longer. In the meantime, Kyros & Co has transformed into a bottle shop, where it’s possible to catch up with the team and have a cocktail.

  • Kester Thomas keeps releasing funky cocktails to-go, and we're thrilled about it! The Copenhagen champagne and cocktail bar has bottled their love for grapes into (so far) six great drinks, available at 500 ml purchases. Concoctions include a PLantation Xamayca and Oolong Tea milk punch, as well as an Appletini collaboration with Oremandsgaard Distillery, using their various Apple Brandies.  

  • Bar Deco miss their guests but have created Deco at Home to make up for the long months of lockdown. The selection provides well-known classics taken to another level, such as the Nuked Negroni infused with Danish rhubarb and grapefruit zest, or the sous vide Toasted Old Fashioned. 

     

  • Empirical’s cocktail recipe videos have had us reconnect with some of the bar industry’s personalities during the lockdown. Be sure to watch for a fun and pretty honest picture of a day in the life of a bartender during the lockdown. Via their Instagram.

  • Marie Dørge is officially the longest-reigning Danish champion of Bacardi Legacy. It’s been one year since she took the trophy at Strøm bar with her Pear With Me cocktail. Check out the Let’s Drink About It interview to hear about her drinks-making and where she gets her inspiration. 

PODCAST: Craft Brewing with Amalie Knage from Slowburn.

In 2019, Amalie Knage fulfilled a year-long dream of opening her own brewery. Together with her partner Stefano, a biochemist from Italy, she has quickly turned a passion for small brews into a full-throttle business. We visited Amalie at Slowburn's facilities to find out what it takes to launch a brewery, the match between craft beer and fine dining, and the complexities of sustainability in the craft brewing industry.

DROPLETS

  • It’s incredible what the internet is bringing us these days! If you miss your bar, you have an opportunity to recreate the atmosphere via I Miss My Bar. The playlist seems to be set, but you can always switch it off and add your own from Spotify. Ours features Japanese Cumbia, 90s Hip Hop and Cher’s “Believe”, just because!

  • February 1st to March 1st was Black History Month, and seeing as many spirits came to be due to colonisation and imperialism, naturally, the cocktail industry too holds a lot of untold black history. @forthecocktailculture is telling Black History through cocktails, spirits and more, bringing a lot of interesting knowledge and discussion to the table.

  • Flavour and smell are intimately connected. But what if we can physically taste our favourite scent? Kille Enna, a renowned Danish chef, has managed to capture and isolate countless flavours into a range of consumable perfumes. Seeing as most of our perception of taste is mediated via our sense of smell, it’s fascinating to think how Kille Enna’s perfumes could be used to enhance the cocktail experience. This MOLD Magazine’s interview with her is a good place to start if you want to learn more. 

SPOTLIGHT: FEAT: KIRSTEN HOLM

Kirsten Holm is known by many as the founder of the modern cocktail scene in Denmark. When Kirsten launched K-Bar in 2002, Copenhagen was a very different city. The metro ran for the first time between Nørreport St and Vestamager and a young Rene Redzepi had just been contacted by Claus Meyer about a new restaurant endeavour in Christianshavn. Starting back when both cocktails and female bartenders would put a frown on most people’s face, Kirsten has since helped to ensure the independence and creativity that symbolises the Danish cocktail scene of today. For this month’s Spotlight, she reveals one of her prime sources of inspiration: 'The Flavour Thesaurus' by Niki Segnit.

"The Flavour Thesaurus’ provides a deeper understanding of the links between flavours and how and why one flavour might go well with another.

 The book was brought to my attention by a former employee called Liza. She had once worked in a very modern restaurant, where the book was often used by the kitchen to find inspiration.

There are tons of great books on cocktails, and even more on iconic alcohol, but this book provides something so vital to a cocktail bar - the knowledge of flavour.

I absolutely love creating new cocktails but sometimes I get stuck in the process. I know just need that little something extra to get it right and perfected. With the book, I can look up the flavours I am already working with and see what matches are recommended.. The great thing is that even after 18 years as a bar owner, the recommendations can still manage to push me out of my comfort zone.

Running a cocktail bar you always want to make sure that certain things are in place to assure a successful business. One of them is to keep your customer’s palate surprised, pleased and not least challenged. When I employ a new bartender I always hope that this person can not only teach me new things but bring ideas and inspiration for new flavour combinations. After some time, most bars risk circling around the same flavours, but this book can push you in another direction. 

And when you go there... when a cocktail succeeds in tasting really good, surprise and push boundaries, it’s the best high in the world."

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