Interview with Johan Evers - Köttbaren

The last couple of years, Sweden and Stockholm have emerged as top cocktail destinations, with lots of great bars and talented bartenders - some of them continuing their careers outside of the country.

Starting today, I will publish interviews with top Swedish bartenders who for various reasons deserve your attention. First out is Johan Evers, bar manager at the recently opened Köttbaren here in Stockholm - and here is what he has to say:

Photo © Battle of Scandinavia
What made you pursue a career in bartending?

Ever since I first completed a shift as a bartender I was hooked. The constant change of products, the evolution of the business and the everyday challenge it gives me.

When and how did you get your first bartender job?

I started at a nightclub called Chiaro/Sinners as a bar-back in year 2002. Did that for about 10 months and then got the opportunity to step up in the bar. I can honestly say that working as a bar-back was truly an experience! Learning about the pace, memorizing labels and names on bottles and dealing with people very much under the influence so to speak. Working in a nightclub has also proved to be very useful for me several occasions.

What is your favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?

I can't say that I have one favorite cocktail, I love making whatever cocktail that suits my guests. I'm not a big fan of creamy, milky drinks.

Do you have a favourite kind of customer?

People that have an interest in food, wine and spirits is always a pleasure to take care of.

What do you like most about your job?

That every shift is different. A constant challenge to always
perform your very best.

Do you have any special strengths or weaknesses as a bartender?

Creativity is one of my strengths. Stirring with my left hand is something I'm working on.

What do you like to drink when off duty?

I'm not a big drinker, but cocktail-wise I love boozy, sour stuff. A New York Cocktail, Vieux Carré or a Too Soon is never wrong. Other than cocktails, I do like Ales.

What upcoming cocktail trends do you think we can expect in the near future?

Well, I've seen that people are starting to use spices and herbs again, infusing spirits and making crazy garnish. I honestly think that the trend that we are at today will stay for a few years.

Which are your favourite bars/bartenders and why?

In Sweden I think Svartengrens, Kåken and Little Quarter are all nice places to visit and you should if you're visiting Stockholm. Of course visit me at Köttbaren. Madeleine Rapp (Svartengrens) is always a top performer. Style, control and beauty!

What about spirits and cocktails inspires you?

I find inspiration in all sorts of spirits. I love losing myself in old and new books, trying different recipes and methods.

What made you choose bourbon and rye as base spirits on the Köttbaren cocktail menu?

I wanted to create something that could increase the understanding for those two spirits, that doesn't have the best reputation among fairly new cocktail drinkers. I love working with Bourbon and Rye and it fitted the concept of Köttbaren best.

How does it feel to be back just a few meters from the place where Inferno, one of your previous bars, used to be?

Hehe, it does feel great. I love this area of Stockholm. Yes, I opened Inferno and we had a fantastic time. It was a time in my career that my understanding for the profession, spirits really bloomed. We won awards and made a great bar of it's time.

Which of your signature drinks and what else in your career are you most proud of so far?

I'm very pleased with what I've created for Köttbaren. The Cocktail menu is vibrant, different and gets a lot of compliments. Our cocktail "Envyation" is one of my favorites. I was extremely satisfied with the cocktail I made for the True Originals Event, a take on the classic Daiquiri.

What do you hope to achieve in the future as a bartender?

A great career.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

Bar manager/co-owner of a bar.

Do you think bartenders get the recognition they deserve?

We're getting there, it's better than a few years ago. There are more ambitious bartenders and our guests understanding is growing. We do have a few elements that makes it really hard for us.

Would you like to share one of your own recipes?

Definitely. 

Envyation
40 ml Bulleit Bourbon
10 ml Cartron Triple Sec
10 ml Yellow Chartreuse
20 ml Lemon juice
Dash Angostura Bitters

Shaken on a rock, strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy.

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