Interview with Emmy Häggkvist, Milles

Busy bee at the Beefeater MIXLDN competition. Photo: Julia Dansarie
Emmy Häggkvist returned to Sweden around two years ago after having studied and worked in Australia and Dubai. Since then she's been working hard yet keeping a low profile at Milles here in Stockholm. The first time I met her was at the Havana Club Grand Prix competition, and just recently our paths crossed again at the Beefeater MIXLDN competition where she impressed me by beating all the boys - however, it still wasn't enough to win. Anyway, here's the next chapter in my series of interviews with Swedish bartenders - enjoy!

What made you pursue a career in bartending and how did you get your first bartender job?

I studied graphic design and marketing in Brisbane and was out for some sunday drinks with my friends. I met a bar manager who needed staff at their bar. I twisted the truth a bit and said that I was a Swedish bartender and would love to have a job. I got a trial and of course we all laughed at it at the end of the night because of my lack of bartending skills. I ended up getting the job and they taught me everything from scratch.

Where are you originally from, and how did you end up at Milles?

I'm from a small town in Östergötland called Motala. It's a lovely city to grow up in but I got bored and wanted to get more experience and meet new people. After a few months in Dubai working at the cocktail bar Okku I decided to move to Stockholm. I got a call from a friend who asked if I wanted to be part of their bar team opening Pelle Lydmar's restaurants Strandvägen 1 and Milles. The thought of being part of a brand new team and open something up together got me exited and full of creativity.

Can you describe the current cocktail concept at Milles and the story behind it?

I've had the opportunity to create and let my creativity flow freely when it comes to the bar at Milles. The cocktail concept has been created during these two years and it's been a good progress. The bar goes hand in hand with our kitchen and follows the seasons. I think more like a chef when I create cocktails and I spend a lot of the time in the kitchen. You will always find interesting signature cocktails in our menu along with some selected classics.

Which place/places has/have been most important regarding your knowledge and skills?

I got the opportunity to work with some great bartenders at Okku in Dubai. It was an important move in my career and I don't think I ever learned so much in such a short time.

Photo: Julia Dansarie
Which is your favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?

I love making all sorts of cocktails, but if I have to choose, it's a cocktail I've created myself. I can't really say something I don't like to make, in the end it's all about pleasing the guest.

How would you describe the perfect customer?

It's hard to pick a favourite type of guest but something I appreciate is guests who are curious, interested and dare to try new things.

What’s the weirdest drink order you’ve gotten?

A non-alcoholic Dry Martini. Hmm, water?

What do you like most about your job?

Oh, the mix of everything. I get to do everything I'm passionate about and enjoy at the same time. Food, wine, cocktails, photography, marketing and people.

How do you spend your spare time?
If I'm alone I love a good run, my camera or a great book. I try to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family :)

What do you drink when off duty?
It depends on the occasion. If I'm not sipping on a cocktail I enjoy a good glass of red wine.

What do you have in your private liquor cabinet?

Maker's Mark, Zacapa and Patron XO are three of the bottles I enjoy having at home.

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

The molecular mixology is something that we will see more of in Stockholm soon, it will find its way out of the kitchen ;)

Which are your favourite bars/bartenders around the world and why?

I haven't been around the world trying cocktail bars that much but I did enjoy Death & Company in New York. The service, the atmosphere, the crowd and of course their cocktails. A bar I haven't had the time to visit yet is The Aviary in Chicago and I think that's a bar I would put at the top of my list. Emil Åreng is one of the most creative, passionate and service minded bartenders I've ever met. He's really good at was he's doing without being cocky!

You just competed in Beefeater MIXLDN and ended first runner up, what are your thoughts on this experience?

I'm always very self-critical but this was my second time competing so I´m very pleased with the result.

What’s your opinion on cocktail competitions in general?

I enjoy competions because you have to push yourself to higher levels when it comes to knowledge, technique and creativity. It's very social and you get to meet and be inspired by other bartenders :)

How do you come up with new cocktail recipes and what inspires you?

Everything around me gives me some sort of inspiration, it can be a place, a person or a dish. I also surf the web a lot and keep myself updated when it comes to trends and news around the world, it inspires me a lot.

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

I'm proud of the bar at Milles and my signature cocktails there. My favourite at the time is The Truffled Side. I've made a truffle honey wich goes perfectly with our house cognac!

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

I've got a book published with my photography and recipes, I've done a year at Berghs studying marketing and photography and I hopefully work for myself doing marketing and mixing cocktails.

Would you like to share one of your own recipes?

Of course! Here's my Truffled Side:

50 ml cognac
20 ml truffle honey (mix fresh grated black truffle, honey and a dash of warm water)
30 m freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 dash of chocolate bitters
egg white

Dry shake everything and then shake with ice. Double strain into a coupette and top with some fresh grated truffle!

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