19 Mar First Annual Reykjavik Bar Summit
Looking back on the first annual Reykjavik Bar Summit held in Iceland only two weeks ago I feel grateful and honored, and a bit exhausted. In my mind a good cocktail is an experience which will become a memory in the end. What I wanted to create with Reykjavik Bar Summit was exactly that; a cocktail experience turning into an unforgettable memory. So the plan was to get some of best bars in the world to Iceland with a friendly competition in mind but I also wanted to surprise them with a hell of a good time.
So we started the whole thing by making Negronis at arrivals at Keflavík airport, which I thought would be a pleasant surprise, setting the tone for the rest of the trip. The same night we had an opening party at Slippbarinn which was the only event taking part in an actual bar. It was appropriate to have a little taste of the drinks at the first cocktail bar in Reykjavik, where all of this started. We went on a boat to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately they did not appear, instead bartender Alli made cocktails for us under extreme circumstances on a very rough sea, what a superhero!
Day two was competition time, it was held in the oldest theater in the city where the idea was for the bars to create their own atmosphere and concept by any means and creating drinks for the judges. The bars that competed the first day were Door 74, Corner Club, Broken Shaker, Victory, Linje Tio, Dutch Kills and Worship Street Whistling Shop. There was also another competition going on that same day where Icelandic bartenders were involved. During lunch bartenders spitted up in two teams, America on one side and Europe on the other. They had exactly 30 minutes to create a five cocktail menu out of local spirits and other stuff. The teams were led by two local bartenders, Vala was the team leader from Europe and Alli for America. They had about 9 hours to build a bar from scratch and prepare ingredients for hundreds of cocktails for the people of Reykjavik.
After the competition at Iðnó all participants went on a bus to the geothermal baths Fontana in the south part of Iceland. And there of course was a pop up bar serving cocktails into the pool to the extremely happy crowd enjoying the Icelandic nature.
We were a bit late so when we came to the city we headed straight to the Reykjavik Art Museum where people waited to see the best bartenders in the world compete at the Battle of the Continents. The bartenders created an electrified atmosphere and put on a hell of a show!
On day three we served burgers and fries from the Burger Joint and held a hilarious one armed whiskey sour competition to lightened the mood and fix the hangover. Then the main competition continued where the second half of the bars competed; Candelaria, Strøm, Cane and Table, Employees Only, Gilt, The Gilroy, En Raus Bar, Attaboy. It was a great honor to see these bartenders do all kinds of incredible things on stage for the judges and the crowd. The judges included Stanislav Vadrna, Dan Priseman, Saga Garðarsdóttir and Ólafur Örn Ólafsson.
This evening was our last night and during dinner we announced the winners of Reykjavik Bar Summit 2015. First we announced that the American team won the Battle of the Continents. Dutch Kills from New York won the public votes as their favorite bar team and they also won the best presentation and performance. The Worship Street Whistling Shop from London, won the best Martinez. The Broken Shaker from Miami, won the best Daiquiri. Employees Only from New York, won the best Mystery Box. But in the end we announced that Strøm from Copenhagen were the first ever winner of Reykjavik Bar Summit 2015. Jonas B Andersen and Mikael Nilson from Strøm received the great trophy; a real stuffed puffin.
And now it was time to party like it was 1999 at an art studio were Holmens Kanal and Henrik Hammer had set up a cocktail bar. We handed out the last surprise to the judges and the bars; Grandalandi, the first legal Icelandic moonshine made in a very limited edition, only 47 bottles were made by Reykjavik Distillery and Grandabræður.
Overall I am extremely happy with the outcome of the first Reykjavik Bar Summit, it exceeded our expectations. It was a great privilege to have all these fantastic bars come over and join us for this event and make the atmosphere as incredible as it was. We are already working on the next one, the dates will be revealed soon.