What makes the perfect party

What makes the perfect party? 

When I got to join the event company Ljudpoolen and party collective Levande Charader from Stockholm to the Distortion festival in Copenhagen last week, I expected to help out with the bars, not to be embraced as a future bar-boss at their events. Nils Wikland, one of the founders of both operations, took me under his wings and introduced me to the fellowship, and now I want to share with you a bit of what I learned.

The bus journey from Berlin took 8 hours and for each hour the exaltation rose in me. The phrase “Are we not there yet?!” was on repeat in my head. I had never been to Copenhagen, and I knew Nils and his companion Filip Friedrich only on the surface, so I very much looked forward to meet both them and the city. It was the last date of May and the weather was fine. Summer had just begun and I was going to mix cocktails at a private party on a house boat with great music and people around me. What a dream. As the bus took me north some questions popped up in me regarding why we even party, and what makes a good party really. Maybe Nils and Filip could help me answer them.

I bet you recognize that thrilling, bubbly feeling of meeting with a like-minded; someone you feel you know already, someone who you recognise your self in, to an extent. When those meetings take place it feels like the whole world smiles at you. This happened in the meeting with Nils. I, as a bartender, know how fun it is to work with parties – to create the conditions for people to enjoy themselves and be happy – and I recognised Nils’ enthusiastic, almost jumpy expression when we met at the boat they rented for the after party near Langebro at Copenhagen Harbor. He explained to me in triumph that the speakers of their sound system were Ljudpoolen’s own creation that they constructed and spent days and nights to build, and that the Distortion party was their maiden voyage. He was proud, by all means.

We shared a drink, chatted a bit and enjoyed the calm before the storm, then I took off to get what I needed for the bar, and when I got back more people had arrived and the pre-party was already started.

Ljudpoolen is a young event business from Stockholm who not only rent sound and light for parties but also build their own speakers. It’s made up by six people from the Royal Institute of Technology -KTH- in Stockholm and under the name “Levande Charader” (Lively Charades – in lack of better translation) they’re hosting parties. Ljudpoolen has earlier worked with companies like Universal Music, Acne, Stureplansgruppen and various festivals and establishments in Stockholm – to name a few. Nils told me that their company sprung out of the vision of some sound-nerds desire to create the perfect sound – and the perfect party. Him and Filip found each other at KTH and along their studies and party planning they started spending time in the workshops of the University where the work for audiell perfection started.

We’ve worked around the clock in the workshop lately and we’re happy to be finished in time. 12 hours of work goes by really fast when you have fun with it, says Nils with a big smile on his face.

His passion for the work was evident and as we talked about sound my curiosity to hear the result of their work grew. When they finally installed them with the rest of the PA system at Bevtoftgade the next day, everything worked just fine and the sound was great. Nadja Chatti, Petter Nordqvist and Clea played great music and the people helping me in Gangster Baren did a fantastic job! Special thanks to Simon, Mo, Adam, Seth, Emelie, and Philip – and Dennis for stepping in at the end. Did I forget anyone? I hope not 🙂

The sun was shining and it was a hot and beautiful day in Copenhagen and as we partied in the street the knowing of what to come – the after party on the house boat – left me with the grand feeling of: “This can’t get better, or wait, yes it can!” which doesn’t really happen every now, does it?

Well back at the house boat I mixed cocktails on OP Anderson aquavit. I made two different drinks, and in one of them one could pick between the clear or the aged aquavit, and of course I made customised drinks according to the guest wishes too. The bar was a success! – and it had to be there! What would a party on a house boat with amazing DJs playing music for a crowd of friends, and friends of friends, be without cocktails? You’d feel something was missing. It’s essential to have a good bar for the overall experience of a party. Luckily this crowd was very appreciative and I felt very welcomed.

The OP Anderson <3 Copenhagen Cocktails:

40 ml OP Anderson klar / OP Anderson aged
30 ml lemon juice
20 ml sugar syrup
ginger ale
orange bitter
dill
hard shake all ingredients and double strain over a tubler with ice cubes
top with ginger ale
garnish with lemon peel and a dill spring

40 ml Petronella – apple and cumin aquavit
30 ml lemon juice
20 ml sugar syrup
tonic water
basil
hard shake all ingredients and double strain over a tubler with ice cubes
top with tonic water
garnish with lemon peel and basil leafs

My first encounter with Copenhagen had started just as good as my first encounter with Nils. I felt very grateful towards his and Filips initiative and towards all people who was there and contributed in different ways to the wonderful time we had created together. It went fast, we had fun. And they want me to do the bar at their future events too! What a joy 😀

So to summarize what I learned this past week about making the perfect party, well here it is:

No heart, no fun! – It’s just like that. You can tell if the organisers are ‘there’ by heart or not – and it makes a huge difference.
Take immense care of DJs and sound – the music is the foundation and what the guest cares most about! Treat them and the equipment with the greatest respect.
Be fun to work with – even though things go wrong (it always does) it is key to keep up the spirit. People want to be around someone who makes their lives exciting.
Don’t forget to eat and sleep – you never regret eating and sleeping well, prior to a party.
Don’t drink to much alcohol – just take it easy you know. It’s lots of work and you want your friends and colleagues around to be able to rely on you as you rely on them.
Make sure there’s always water and something to eat – of course water is crucial, but food is also a real treat when the party comes to an end. Whether it’s fruit, protein shakes or cheese sandwiches. Eating something makes the landing easier and it also tightens the group when dismantling the whole charade.
Keep it tidy – no one appreciates a dirty dance floor. Even check the toilets now and then (Freddie was alway on me about this when we were working at Laika, it’s important)!
Dance – give yourself some decent breaks. You need to let loose too! Dance with the other kids and show them you have time for them.
And last but not least, prepare a good fucking bar – The bar is where people lean back. If you are ready for action before it has even started the rest of the group will feel secure. You can help out with other stuff, and treat your colleagues with some drinks as they set up their shit and when the guest arrives you focus fully on them and not on chopping fruit. Give the people what they didn’t know they wanted and provide the break people are looking for.

To get to gaze over a sea of dancing people who appreciate the music and one another; to provide the space for euphoria on a dance floor and observe people letting go, with smiling faces, and to feel “we’ve created this” – that’s just the best feeling in the world, that’s why we make parties, says Nils.

 

 

Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen

 

Interview by tradermagn.us

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

I was working in retail, selling tea, coffee and a vide range of delicacy products and sweets before I got into the restaurant business and bartending. I have a weakness for the pleasure in flavour and culinary experiences. My very first job in a bar was pouring draught beer and mixing booze with soda in plastic cups for 4 weeks at ’The dolphin shack’ in Sihanoukville, Cambodia in 2012. This was as far away from quality one could get, but I was curious and it was an experience for sure. When I got back to Stockholm my first bartender job was at Berns where my friend Freddie was manager and he placed me in the out door bar at Bistro Berns over the summer. That was a great introduction to the scene and industry.

Where are you originally from, and how did you end up at Melody Nelson and Twinpigs?

I’m from Gustavsberg on the coast of Stockholm, but I travel quite a lot and have lived on and off in Stockholm for the last 7 years. I ended up in Berlin because I went to the Bar Convent in October and missed my flight home the week after. I decided to stay, so I went job hunting. Luckily I found Twinpigs and Melody Nelson.

Can you describe the current cocktail concept at Melody Nelson and Twinpigs and the story behind it?

At Twinpigs we released our new list on March 17th and it’s a compilation of mine and my three bartender colleagues creations. It’s fun and playful balanced with quality and ambition I’d say.

Melody Nelson is a speakeasy in Mitte that offers classic cocktails with only 3 signature cocktails that changes every 3rd month or so. We have about 50 different classics listed in our menu and we let them speak for them selves, perfect as they are.

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

Can’t pick.

Which is your favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?

My least favourite is Long Island Ice Tea because it’s a shitty shitty drink and the people who orders it have no taste.. usually they’re already drunk too.

My favourite used to be ”Cookie Monster” at Laika because it was so cute and everyone loved it and it made people laugh. Now I just love to make customised cocktails for people with curiosity.

How would you describe the perfect customer?

Hehe the perfect customer is cute, charming, interested in what I have to offer and likes what I make. Of course I like innocent flirting over the bardisk. A good conversation and a laugh is always thrilling. He/she hopefully leaves a number and tips 😉 

But really, I like any guest who’s just nice and polite, you know.

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

l don’t know… A dark and sour? I mean what is that? A German thing? A mix between Dark and Stormy and a Whiskey Sour? It took some confusing minutes to figure out that he wanted a London Sour. He had a heavy accent.

What do you like most about your job?

The people I meet. Colleuges, guest, DJs etc etc. It’s a business for crazy or at least semi crazy people 😀 And that’s what make it so interesting and fun.

Do you have any special bartending skills you’re extra proud of?

I’m super good behind the bar. It’s my scene. Where I shine. I’m an excellent co-worker and I’m proud of that. I care about everyone on the team and always wanna create an nice ambiance amongst the staff and guests.
 
How do you spend your spare time?

Working on my blog tinashine.com

It’s almost like a part time job 🙂 Mostly I devote the rest of the time to music and singing. Currently I’m also studying German.

What do you drink when off duty?

Beer and coffee.

What do you have in your private liquor cabinet?

I move around so much and this is actually the first time I have a little booze collection at home. I’ve got some bitters, rum, gin, vodka, liqueurs… and Brown tonic syrup. I finally like tonic thanks to Brown. It’s the guys at Twinpigs who make it.

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

Hmm.. I dunno. But for the summer I hope for milkshakes and poptails (popsicle cocktails) since my love for ice cream is beyond!

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

I worked in Montpellier, Southern France in September – October 2014 with one of my best friends Tony Comas who is an excellent bartender, as much of a freak as I am, and he always seems to know what I want before even I do. 

He took me to Le Parfum where some of his friends work and it’s the most beautiful bar I’ve ever seen. Not only aesthetically but the bar is so well planned, a perfect balance between style and function. And a short person like me wouldn’t have any problems working there, since they haven’t got a back bar with high unreachable shelves – that’s always a huge plus in my book -Instead they use the back wall for a light projection that resembles smoke. Melody Nelson also has a low back bar, + !
http://barleparfum.com

In your opinon, how do bars in Sweden compare to Berlin and internationally?

I can’t tell the difference in general, I just have my view from a staff perspective and there are some differences in structure and employer-employee relations for example. Berlin feels even more family-like than Stockholm, but Stockholm is a more convenient scene to work in. Can’t say which scene I prefer.. So I’m just gonna go back and forth a bit I think!
Oh, and in Berlin you can smoke in most bars!

What’s your opinion on cocktail competitions, have you entered any and in that case how was the experience?

I have no experience in them so I have no opinion. Might enter one one day though, just for ticking it off my list of experiences. But they don’t beckon to be really.

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

Curiosity, trial and error. I love watching other bartender work and I ask a lot of questions. I read some bartending / cook books and I listen to ”Med eller utan is” – a bartenders’ podcast by Jonatan Östblom Smedje on Soundcloud. That is very inspirational.

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

Hehe this interview is what I’m most proud of so far 😀 And my blog!

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

In 5 years I’m in Tokyo singing jazz, making music together with DJ Krush alongside working with a master and keep learning about mixology and this industry. But I’m kinda like Pocahontas in the sense that I go wherever the wind takes me, and 5 years is a long time so you never know.

Would you like to share one of your own recipes?

This is a super delicious raspberry – salty liquorice cocktail that taste like liquid candy (but not too sweet even though the recipe might indicate it) and that I’ll make into poptails this summer!

40ml Fennel infused vodka (infused for 5 days)
20ml Chambord
20ml Lemonjuice
20ml Raspberry puré
20ml salt-liquorice syrup
hard shake on ice, double strain over cocktail glass
* no garnish