Oslo Bar Show 2015 - a retrospect

Sean Muldoon and Jillian Vose (Dead Rabbit, NYC), Emil Åreng and Karl-Martin Edin (Open/Closed, Umeå), lots of bourbon and rye courtesy of Edrington.
Ever since the demise of Copenhagen Spirits & Cocktails there haven't been many cocktail related bar shows in Scandinavia. In Stockholm we have the annual Beer & Whisky Festival with an increasing focus on cocktails each year - but still not very much and at a very basic level.

The now defunct Copenhagen bar show as well as the first ever Oslo Bar Show were aimed at both industry professionals and die-hard cocktail enthusiasts, making it much more interesting if you want something else than Mojitos and flavoured vodka.  Being the brain child of recently opened high-end hotel The Thief's bar manager Chris Grøtvedt, thanks to him the guests could experience two days of truly inspirational seminars and action packed pop up bars by some of the best bartenders and brand ambassadors from all around the world, mainly Scandinavia.

Monica Berg (Pollen Street Social, London)
Two of the most impressive seminars during the bar show were held by Monica Berg. Both about aquavit, the first one was a spectacular showcase of aquavit cocktails and the other one was a mindblowing 5-course lunch featuring amazing food by Even Ramsvik (Ylajali) paired with Monica's equally tasty aquavit cocktails. Other notable happenings were the seminars by Alex Kratena (Artesian) on how to look outside the box and Alastair Burgess (Happiness Forgets) on how to run a bar - as well as the pop up bars by Open/Closed (truly memorable and erratic performance by the one and only Emil Åreng) and The Savoy. I wish I had been able to attend more events, but you simply can't be at several places at the same time. Also, Jonatan Östblom-Smedjes tasting of 17 different whiskies in the Jim Beam Brands range really did me in.

The bar show culminated with the Oslo Bar Awards, a fancy dinner party where the winners were announced:

Best bar (jury's choice) - No Stress (Bergen)
Best bar (people's choice) - No Stress (Bergen)
Best cocktail program - The Thief (Oslo)
Best new opening - Himkok (Oslo)
Industry personality of the year - Jørgen Dons, Raus (Trondheim)

Alastair Burgess, Happiness Forgets (London), George Nemec, Becherovka, Alex Kratena, Artesian, London) 
In addition to the bar show I also managed to check out a couple of the new bars in Oslo - and I was very curious since I hadn't been there in five years. I have to say that I was very impressed by the current cocktail scene, and I especially enjoyed Himkok, Perla, Torggata Botaniske, Bettola and of course The Thief.

Even though I would consider the bar show as a whole a success, some of the seminars were almost empty and others were simply not very interesting if you had already heard the brand story several times before. That said, I know that Chris has already started planning the 2016 Oslo Bar Show so I'm pretty sure it will be even better next time, and I can't wait to be back in Oslo next summer - bring it on!

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