A bar is a playground for grown-ups. A place where you can meet new playmates, taste the sweet nectar of intoxicating juices, take time off to enjoy life with your closest of pals, and on occasion enjoy the chance of entangling your reproduction organs in other people’s warm orififi and bodily fluids. The playground swings have been replaced with bar stools, and once you sit down, you never know what might happen.
It’s a place for adventure, and for personal ruin if you just can’t find the strength to get off those swings.
But this is not exactly a bar review written by an alcohol fanatic.
I’ve never been much of a drinker. Compared to French pastries, Italian pizza, American ice cream and Japanese sushi, alcohol just seems pretty boring. Plus you get a headache. After one beer I feel tired, numb and ready for bed--and not in the kinky way, but in the grandma way. I’ve also never gotten laid while being drunk, or at least so I recall. Ha! [Doh!]
Still, I like bars for what they offer in relaxation and social connections, especially if it’s owned by friends. And so in 2009 I was actually hired by some previous clients of mine to work on the graphic identity for their new bar called 1105. The bar is off a popular shopping street, 1105 Copenhagen K, and was named after their very own, unique postal code.
The aim of 1105 was to give off the vibe of classic old hotel bars--which was the new hot trend back in 2008-09: cozy atmosphere, dim lighting, crystal glasses, luxury barware, gold and chocolate, the finest ingredients, the best, most professional and service-minded bartenders working off an acoustic backdrop of elegant lounge house and chill techno.
And of course to serve the most delicious cocktails in town. Co-owner and head bartender Gromit is the kind of person everyone’s heard of in Copenhagen, famous (and infamous) for his quick wit, sharp tongue and creative, interesting cocktails.
During the developmental stages of creating the bar, my friends traveled Europe looking for old hotel bar interiors and barware for inspiration. I started researching old New York and London hotel identities, for the glamour and elegance they provided to their guests. I came up with about 50 logos. The owners of the bar took one look at my pitch material and decided in a split second on their favourite: a slinky, simple, vertical mark that happened to fit with exactly what they were looking for, for their bar.
The cocktail card is bound in carved and imprinted goat skin.
Each card has a different texture and color hue depending on which goat donated its furry coat to this greater good.
Two years since their opening, the bar is a success, for many reasons. Even though it does not offer bargain prices, it invests zero money in advertisement, and is hidden away from the street and public bypassers--it still attracts a big crowd each weekend.
According to one of the owners Morten, 1105 doesn’t cater to the trendy crowd since they are usually more like untrusty lovers, leaving your bed as soon as there’s something hotter on the other side of the street.
Instead, it’s about attracting a nice blend of different kinds of people: hardcore cocktail lovers, single girls, tourists cruising the Copenhagen bar scene, people who are ending their work day with a quick drink, people starting their booze night off with style before going nuts at the pub, etc.
In 2009 it was added to Condé Nast's list of best bars across the world.
A night in February I met up with Morten and the accountant/party lady La Cam in order to taste the bar’s three most popular cocktails. Working behind the bar was Hardeep Singh Rehal, who has won the gold medal in the annual Copenhagen Cocktail competition three years in a row.
Three times, this gentleman has dazzled the judges with his own recipes which have all become instant classics in the Copenhagen bar scene.
We start out with a Honey Smash:
It's very sweet but fresh at the same time. The lime juice adds an element of exotica to the Danish berries. Super popular among the lady crowd.
Honey Smash recipe:
5 cl (1.7 oz) vodka
2 cl (0.7 oz) honey
1 cl (0.3 oz) lime juice
1 cl (0.3 oz) gomme syrup
1 slice of lemon (with the peel)
1 small handful of mint leaves
Now we move on to the Cucumber Yum Yum :
This drink was composed by Hardeep and landed him the gold medal in 2009. I couldn’t have come up with a better word myself, it truly lives up to its name. It has a very cucumber-y freshness, combined with the sweet hints of raspberry and gin. Truly original and the perfect pre-dinner cocktail.
4 cl (1.4 oz) Beefeater Gin
1½ cl (0.5 oz) Aalborg Jubilaeumsakvavit (Danish snaps)
3 cl (1 oz) Acacia honey
4 Fresh raspberries
1 Fresh cucumber
Sliced passion fruit
We ended our tasting session with the Señor Hansi, my new favourite:
Again, quite a sweet drink but with more of an edge (seems the Danes are suckers for nectar filled drinks, it must be the Scandinavian winter forcing us to eat sweets). By now I was pretty hammered so this poor picture was all I was able to snap before copping out.
But I remember really loving the drink, and snacking from the open sliced passion fruit.
I haven't been able to pull the exact recipe from the bar crew except that it consists of tequila, agave syrup, lime juice, passion fruit and weissbier foam.
Intoxicated and dingy (see picture above) we call it a night and manage to throw ourselves off the swings and back into the real world. Three drinks is a wise limit I tell myself.
Still, the next morning I woke up with a headache.