While on a trip with Purity vodka, we were given a talk by Mathin Lundgren about the Swedish bar scene, specifically in Stockholm. This was great because I had just been to Stockholm two months earlier with Karlsson's vodka and had seen a few of the bars first-hand.
Lundgren says the Swedish bar scene really kicked off about twn years ago, after a few Swedish bartenders moved to london and worked at LAB and other bars, then came home with new skills. More recently, other bartenders have been influenced by working at Milk & Honey and thus Sasha Petraske's influence reaches even to Sweden.
In talking about trends and developments in the Stockholm bar scene, Lundgren identified:
- A return to the respect of the career of bartending
- Hand-crafted cocktails
- Better ice (and the recognition that spirit-forward cocktails with fewer ingredients require better ice)
- Knowledge of spirits
- Better training (As of 3 years ago they have a government-sponsored, year-long education program somewhere outside of Stockholm.)
- Travel - Bartenders are traveling a lot, getting inspired by other scenes, and bringing ideas home. (And as a good example, I've now met Mathin in Sweden, Denmark, and New Orleans within three months.)
- The mixologist trend (bartenders with their heads down cranking out only one drink every five minutes while customers wait) is starting to fade
- The science/molecular trend came and went
- As modern bartenders refocus on both drinks and customer service again, a newfound respect for the older generation of working bartenders
- Bars with standards. Previously drink quality depended on who was working at the bar at the moment, whereas now bars are enforcing better training and standards so that every drink tastes good no matter who makes it.
- The return of flair, but just little flourishes of it rather than juggling.
- Connectedness of bartenders thanks to social media and good bar events.
Other than a government-sponsored bartender training program, he could be talking about New York or San Francisco. It's a small, small world.