Had a chance to interview Swedish bartender Daniel Westman (Farang, Stockholm), the winner of The Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2016 European Final (Madrid, October), and hear another interesting pro opinion and vision of our craft, cocktail competitions and Scandinavian bartending. Ladies and Gentleman – Mr. Vestman, stage is yours.
The Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2016 – your thoughts. What makes a good cocktail competition? Is it important to participate and why?
Angostura cocktail challenge have been a fantastic journey this far, the biggest part I still have a head of me. I’ve been in a couple of competitions before, both big and small competition. But the thing that I really love with the angostura competition is the family feeling that I get, I think the reason for this feel is ever since the Nordic finals someone from the destillery have been present as well as someone from artisian spirit (which are the ones that import angostura to eu). That is something that I feel makes a good competition as well, and in my opinion we as competitors always been taken care of.
I got many colleagues that don’t competing at all, which I totally understand, but for me it’s a way to trigger myself to evolve and try new stuff. As well getting the opportunity to work with spirits that you don’t use that much during a normal shift behind the bar, since it normally is to expensive.
“All EU finalists were required to create two (2) original cocktail recipes, one showcasing the versatility of Angostura Rums using a minimum of five (5) dashes of Angostura® aromatic bitters and the other highlighting the creative use of Angostura® orange bitters. Cocktails were judged based on appearance, aroma, taste and presentation.” -Hermansson & Co AB
The Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2016 – The Nordic Final
What makes a good bartender? Name few qualities, what is the most important?
For me a good bartender needs to be a good host, with that I mean he/she needs to tend the bar at the same time making sure the bar is clean. For being a good host you need to be open minded and polite. You need to listen to the guests, and you should know everything that is worth knowing about the restaurant or bar you working at. Always be sure to know your products! By that I mean smell them, taste them so you know what you’re working with! If you don’t know anything about one of your products, read about them!
For me personally one thing that I learned when I started to work in a bar is clean as you go. With that I mean always keep your station clean and in order. If you need to go out from the bar and your colleague is using your station it should be in order and everything on its place.
Daniel – what makes you happy at the bar as a customer?
When the bartender is a good host, I always like to ask questions about the restaurant or bar that I visit for the first time. And that is something that in my opinion you should be able to answer. When the bartender know the products they got on their backshelf. And are able to recommend what I should be drinking.
”Vestman, impressed the 5 strong Jury, headed by UK Magazine The Cocktail Lovers’ Sandrae Lawrence, to win a 3.000€ cheque and a place representing Europe at the Final of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2016. The Global Final is the culmination of months of local and regional finals, where Bartenders from all over the world compete to win the title of the House of Angostura Global Brand Ambassador for the next two years and a grand prize of US$10,000.” -Hermansson & Co AB
The best freestyle cocktail by Daniel Vestman – ”Cóctel naranja de Hollanda”. Inspiration: The Spanish name goes to the orange bitter and the Spanish heritage. “Holanda” to the Genever and the Dutch creator of Angostura Bitter.
Your thoughts on Scandinavian bartending – where are we?
I’m really proud of Scandinavian bars and bartenders. The first thing to come to my mind when I think about bars in Scandinavia is Stockholm and Copenhagen. For me these two citys are on the frontline at the moment, but Helsinki and Oslo is coming really good. The bartenders in Scandinavia creating bigger and bigger names for themselves aswell. I think the reason for that is all the competition that is taking place around the world all the time and there is almost a Scandinavian bartender in every final. And all the bartenders working abroad and then returning and evolving the bar scene in their home countries, that makes us getting forward. In my opinion weren’t that far behind London and New York.
Your vision – what is the next big thing on bartending? What is going to happen?
That is a really hard question, really don’t know what to say. If we’re talking about like cocktails wise I would say something that have been growing lately in Stockholm been the part of the cocktail menu with mocktails and low alcohol cocktails. This is something that I believe is very important for the restaurants now days, since there is more and more people that are taking the car to the restaurant or they might be pregnant. Too be able to offer these guests something more hand made and more interesting then a non-alcoholic beer or wine is just wonderful.
Stockholm – what`s going on at the moment?
Well something that have been growing a lot the past 1-2 years is Latin American spirits, like tequila, pisco and cacacha. There have also been a couple of new restaurants with Mexico as the theme that have been opening up. The other thing like I said is the amount of mocktails and the demands for it has been growing a lot. Something that I like is that more and more guests is asking fo low alcohols cocktails is growing aswell. So I believe that bartenders working more and more with low alcoholic spirits more, like vermouths.
Thank You Daniel for your thoughts and co-operation – All the Best 🙂 Thank You Hermansson & Co AB, Interbrands Wines & Spirits and Juho & Angostura.
Photos © Hermansson & Co AB