January 22, 2014

Holmens Kanal Cocktailbar

On Friday my friend in I visited Holmens Kanal a new cocktail bar in the center of Copenhagen. I've had plenty of time since to write this review but every time I start I stop.

The reason is simple: I'm conflicted about this bar. It is certainly a very nice room: Dark wood, a generous bar, leather booths and elegant art deco wallpaper. But it's also a cliché. This is Copenhaven 2014 not New York in the 1920'ies.

I'm well aware that there are many people new to cocktails who will be attracted to the classic speakeasy look, but I long for the day that a new bar in Copenhagen looks like a new restaurant in Copenhagen - or even as avant garde as the new closed Gamsei in Munich in Germany.

Holmens Kanal is run by the people who own Salon 39 and Gilt - and since I like both of those bars very much I had high expectations.

Fortunately the cocktail menu is not dogmatic speakeasy as opposed to the decor. I ordered a Mai Tai and almost ran out of there when it was served.

It was pink - very pink as the photo proves - it's the Mai Tai on the right. And nothing say's I don't know my classics as a pink Mai Tai. The true color is yellow-green-brownish.

Which shows me as a huge hypocrite: On one hand I find the decor too traditional and on the other hand the cocktails not traditional enough.

It did however taste absolutely spot on: Tart, sweet, almondy and of good rum. My next to drinks where a completely simple Remember the Maine and a Pusser's Painkiller. The latter disappointed my friend more than it did me - she found it a bit watery.

Taking the price - about DDK 100 a drink which is not very expensive to a Dane in Copenhagen - into account it was some very nice cocktails.

But my visit to Holmens Kanal ran into the no longer existing canal the street is named after the moment the bar, which is housed in the ground floor of the oldest department store in Copenhagen, asked me to hand over my credit card as we ordered out second round.

We have experienced that before at K-Bar. I still don't like to be called a thief because I want more than one drink. (Update: That's how being asked to hand over my credit card for the bars keeping makes me feel - Holmens Kanal did not say: We think you may run out on the bill, so hand over your credit card.)

And considering how many people Holmens Kanal employs including a hostess who seats you and tell you goodbye as you leave I refuse to believe that many people manage to run out on their bill.

And considering that we could leave Holmens Kanal and walk into a nearby very busy steakhouse and "start" a much larger bill without handing over a credit card the praxis seems all the more absurd.

As we left I asked what I could do to avoid this praxis during our next visit, and was told: Nothing. Which simply means there will be no next visit.

January 19, 2014

Flyversjus - Pilot's highball

Generations of Danish women - and light drinkers - have entertained themselves in dance halls and through traditional lunch partys on this highball: Flyversjus.

Sjus is the Danish word for highball - from the German world for shot - so a sjus is a shot of booze mixed with soda.

Flyver is more tricky, as no one quite know how this mix of aquavit and lemon soda got it's name. It can mean either airplane or pilot.

First recorded use of the word Flyversjus is from 1937 but the way it was used in the sentence did not divulge the etymology. (scroll down for a picture of the old school Flyversjus line up)

When I read that the theme for this month's Mixology Monday is the highball, I knew I wanted to give Flyversjus a make over.

But I'll let our host Joel of Southern Ash explain his idea:

What is your favorite gin and tonic combination in the middle of summer?  Care to expound on the perfect bourbon for a bourbon and branch?  Find a new or obscure mixer that just fit with the end of your rum in the back of the bar? Maybe an ode to an under appreciated bar workhorse, like whisky and cola, deserves time in the spotlight?  Rediscover the joys of Irish Coffee in the snow and ice of winter?  Maybe you have a guilty pleasure at home when nobody is looking to ease you out of a long day. Your challenge is to give us a compelling post about a highball to ease into the New Year. Let’s give the Highball its due.
I could be completely wrong, but I think Flyver in connection with this drink means pilot - making this drink, the pilots highball.

It would make sense, that at a time where men where expected to drink beer and aquavit together - and lot's of it - whoever needed a less potent mix ordered a soda instead of the beer with the aquavit and then at some point just poured it into the soda and drank it that way.

Considering that drunk driving laws was not introduced in Denmark until the 1970, who knows if pilots could drink this and still fly airplanes?

For a new take on Flyversjus - I chose a dill aquavit, added a bit of yellow Chartreuse and mixed my lemon soda from fresh bergamot juice, rich simple syrup and seltzers:
  • 4,5 cl aquavit
  • 3 cl fresh bergamot juice (they are in season right now in Europe)
  • 0,75 cl yellow Chartreuse
  • 0,75 rich simple syrup (Bring twice the amount of sugar to water to a boil, stir until all sugar is dissolved and the cool it off)
  • Seltzers
Mix the first 4 ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until cold, pour over fresh ice into a tall glass and fill the glass with seltzer.