Why The Scandinavian Bar Scene Is The Place To Be
June 4, 2016
I like to travel and I enjoy wasting a day in a bar or lounge, thus I am often basing my next adventure around a new cocktail experience or alcohol culture I have been reading about.
My most recent trips have been to explore a new world of mixology opening in the northern countries of Europe, but there are hundreds of bars in the UK to visit and make a night of.
The Baltics and Scandinavian countries are exploding over the world cocktail scene as they are bringing something new and vibrant to the table: a fresher approach to ingredients which aligns to their culture of food and a complete new bar back of spirits and flavours.
Rating highly as some of the best upcoming bars on the scene, it is worth taking a trip to these beautiful cities to explore and learn more of this new world.
With low cost travel and short flight times, it is totally feasible to go to Riga for lunch, Copenhagen for dinner and Stockholm for breakfast the following day. In fact, that’s pretty much what I’ve just done!
Sky High Mixing In Riga
I rate Riga’s Skyline bar as high on my list of must visits when looking for bar inspiration. Located on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu hotel in Riga, Latvia’s beautiful capital city, it offers the most immersive experience in cocktail bars I’ve discovered so far.
Almost 360 degree views from the glass walls provide a stunning landscape to enjoy. Get there early and secure a window seat to watch the sunset over the gothic old town.
The chic interior has mixed seating from large lounges to tables for two, stunning lighting which neither glares nor darkens the room and a soundtrack which has inspired my own bars since I first visited. Live DJs provide the back drop of bar grooves and as if by magic, an atmosphere of pure heaven is created.
The long and well appointed bar provides a simple, yet interesting mix of classics (done Rigs style) and more exciting local tastes. Food is also very good here – offering wonderful sharing platters made with fresh ingredients and love.
Waitress service completes this ideal scenario with just a few people covering endless tables with grace, perfection and efficiency. It remains my cocktail bar of choice worldwide, and although not innovative or stunning in its cocktails, its entire experience is yet to be matched.
I am literally in love with Copenhagen: a city that can only be described as chilled out, it seems to ooze a relaxed and cool vibe 24/7.
Its bar scene again is vibrant and the traveler will find themselves welcomed with open arms into any establishment. Notable bars to visit number into the tens, but I think it’s worth visiting 1656.
This is one of the most welcoming and atmospheric cocktail bars in Copenhagen. The decor is classical with emphasis on Chesterfield sofas, and velour in dimmed lighting.
The cocktail menu is innovative with many different seasonal specialties and contemporary creations. All the traditional cocktail mainstays are available and highly recommended.
Then there is Ruby. Ruby offers high quality drinks in an original 1920’s atmosphere. The menu here is pricey but you get what you pay for, as the quality of the cocktails are legendary.
The bar itself is as cool as cocktail bars can get: the design is understated but classical, with leather armchairs, low tables and dim designer lighting. The layout of the bar is reminiscent of an apartment which adds to the homely mood of the venue.
The cocktail tenders offer table service and you will really get a sense of being treated to an exquisite night out.
Ruby is one of the hippest and coolest bars in Copenhagen, and if you are not on a budget, it is a definite must-visit for a great night out.
Shaking Things Up In Stockholm
The city on the sea, Stockholm is again a place of true beauty. Many worthy restaurants and bars line the streets and I did not have a bad experience there.
Worthy of note however, is a restaurant and cocktail bar called, Linje Tio. This is the place to go in the Swedish capital for top-flight cocktails and a delicious range of fresh Mediterranean fare.
Located in Hornstull, which is undergoing a hip renaissance at the moment, Linje Tio is the cocktail bar and restaurant side of a three-faceted venue – which also includes a wine bar and barber shop. It’s Linje Tio though that grabs the boldest headlines for its mixology and its already-famous Sunday brunch.
The cocktail menu at Linje Tio is always evolving as the bartenders are skilled at adding seasonal and special-occasion flair to the offerings. Recent examples include:
- The El Champo Gimlet – mezcal, grape cordial, cucumber, and lime
- The La Belle Epoc – cognac, absinthe, lemon, sugar, and champagne
- A Negroni – made with strawberries and saffron
These offerings are just the tip of the iceberg at Linje Tio, and speaking of the frozen stuff, the bar takes theirs very seriously, having created its own ‘craft ice’ program featuring crystal-clear chips off solid blocks of Swedish ice.
The Flying Dog is worthy of a mention when visiting Stockholm as it describes itself (quite correctly) as a Beer palace.
Craft ales from around the world come here to fight for the attention of the connoisseur. I found myself struggling to make choices and in the end, spent an evening sampling the delights of beers I’d never even heard a mention of before.
If you are looking for a new mixology adventure or inspiration from up and coming locations, I thoroughly recommend a flight to Scandivania and the Baltic regions.
It is a new world for tastes and these bold experimenters will one day be leading whilst others are following. Get ahead of the game and see what Northern Europe has to offer.
Follow Mixologist Ian:
Twitter: @BusyMrFizzy @BrainStormer_UK @BarTwentyFive