Swedish Aquavit in Berlin
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Every year in the beginning of October, the worlds largest bar convent is held in Berlin, named simply Bar Convent Berlin (or BCB) and this over-10000-visitors-fair turns the German capital into a Mekka for people of the bar industry, who make their pilgrimage from all corners of the world. During a few nights, bars around the city throw parties together with bartenders and brands in connection to the fair, and these collaborations often get quite out of hand - don’t we all know it’s no use challenging a bartender in a drinking contest! Not that these parties are necessarily a means to measure how much of a product can be consumed within a certain time-frame, but it sure is a way for producers and bartenders to shine while showing off their specific brand and their various skills - and to have fun. End of the day, that’s what it’s all about. And who wouldn’t want to take home the champion-title of “last man standing” at any given party, right?
When my friend and colleague Niklas Langen, the Swedish brand ambassador for OP Anderson Aquavit, called me up a few months ago to ask if I wanted to throw an akvavit party with them in connection with BCB at Melody Nelson Bar, my working place in the district called Mitte in Berlin, I immediately said yes. Not only do I love to create events but I really like OP Anderson as a product since it’s a Swedish brand that me and every other Swede recognise from all traditions we ever celebrate, so nostalgia has one part in the reasoning for throwing an akvavit party in Berlin, and the other reason is the line up of bartenders we were going to invite to make cocktails through out the night in the venue.
So, we invited six bartenders from three different establishments in Sweden; Tom Surma and Madeleine Åkerlund from Familjen in Gothenburg, Robin Ogestadh and Jonas Ericsson from Asian Post Office in Stockholm and Josephine Sondlo and Alex Skarlen from Bar Hommage in Stockholm. They brought their own menus with two drinks each and slang their specials for two hours before the next team took over. All cocktails were based on OP Anderson Aquavit. Prior to the event, when Niklas informed me that the bar manager of Bar Hommage, Ola Carlson, who's also a friend and a bit of a bartending mentor in a way, was going to DJ the whole night, I almost fell of my perch. Ola is an excellent music selector, playing anything from funk to house and disco, strictly on vinyl, always with a groove. He asked me what kind of music would suit Melody Nelson, and I told him whatever he plays in Bar Hommage will be perfect in our bar too.
Ola as well as all the bartenders truly delivered at the akvavit-event. Another guy who nailed it on the night in question was chef Anders Isaksson, a talented freelancer chef who recently organised a series of pop-ups called “Smör Kiosken”. He was serving Swedish delicacy canapés including mini-Skagen and Gubbröra (I’m not going to go further into what that is, but I can reveal, as many other Swedish delicacies, that it contains fish and/or seafood) on the pavement outside the bar, and since the night was strangely warm for the season, the party was happening as much out there on the street as indoors.
At midnight, however, we closed the doors and turned the place up side down. I was taking pictures, bar-backing, entertaining and yelling out “don’t forget to tip your bartenders!” when my Melody Nelson colleagues Celina Dzyacky and Freddie Jidlow eventually took over the show around 2 am and all the guest bartenders had done their jobs! The variety of bartenders and cocktails through out the night truly made the party a success, I must humbly inform you of.
And then, in the end, I found myself being the last woman standing at the party. Well, that’s simply because I was on duty and had to help close the bar after the last guests left, so that doesn't really count hey. The last standing guest however, the champion who truly deserves the epithet “last man standing” was Christian Dominguez, bar manager at Mace! Well done Christian! Congratulations! :D