New York - Stockholm is an international city - the array of bars and restaurants in Sweden's capital are testament to that, referencing Cuban daiquiris, Japanese sake cocktails and everything in between.
Yet only a handful feature the fine local liqueur known as Swedish Punsch, a sweetened and spiced rum-like spirit made with Batavia Arrack.
“It's an acquired taste,” comments Magnus Sundström, a Stockholm-based creative professional and cocktail enthusiast.
“I think that many Swedish people find it too sweet.”
The traditional way to consume Swedish Punsch is alongside yellow pea soup, on Thursdays.
If Swedes are drinking less of their namesake punch, at least it's getting a boost elsewhere thanks to the revival of pre-Prohibition cocktail recipes that call for the ingredient.
In the last year, American tipplers regained access to Swedish Punsch under the Kronan label, thanks to quirky importer Haus Alpenz. (Ironically, the brand is made but not sold in Sweden.)
Within Stockholm, Swedish Punsch can be spotted here and there, such as in the tiki-style Caribbean Tango cocktail at Story Hotel (http://www.storyhotels.com/) (recipe below).
But there's also a whole tirade of tippling to be had in Stockholm beyond Punsch.
“Over the last couple of years, the number of cocktail bars and the quality of the cocktails has increased a lot, and people have begun to understand and appreciate it,” Sundström notes.
With hotels as their home base, travellers are in luck: “Some hotel bars are really good, so business travellers don't have to go outside if they don't want to,” Sundström says.
In particular, he points to Lydmar Hotel (http://www.lydmar.com/), First Hotel Reisen (http://bit.ly/Kff17A), Nobis Hotel (http://www.nobishotel.se/) and Scandic Grand Central (http://www.scandichotels.com/grandcentral) as shining examples.
Around stylish Stureplan, “where the rich and famous hang out,” many of the restaurants densely clustered around the square offer choice tippling options, says Sundström. For example, Gondolen (http://www.eriks.se/), noted for its expansive views and classic cuisine, is “very popular among both tourists and natives.”
Other suggestions include French-Swedish restaurant Sturehof (http://www.sturehof.com/sv-se/start/) and its sister Riche (http://riche.se/sv-se/start/), sake- or shochu-spiked cocktails at pan-Asian East (http://east.se/), or steakhouse Vassa eggen (http://www.vassaeggen.com/). In addition, the private Noppe Bar (Ingmar Bergmans gata 1, 114 34) counts the Swedish royal family among its elite membership.
Elsewhere, after-work spots include New Orleans-inspired Marie Laveau (http://www.marielaveau.se/) and its companion bar Little Quarter (http://marielaveau.se/little-quarter), as well as the South American inspired Cantineros (http://cantineros.se/), where rums and South American distillates (cachaca, mezcal) round out the drink menu.
In an evening's round of drinks, it's possible to tipple around the world without ever leaving Stockholm.
RECIPE: CARIBBEAN TANGO
Courtesy of Story Hotel
Story Hotel describes this drink as “a tribute to the tiki style of drinks, but with a different touch from Jamaica to France to Sweden.” It was created by bartender Jimmi Hulth.
30ml Myers rum, plus additional Tablespoon for float
15ml Sailor Jerry Spiced rum
10ml Swedish Punsch
5ml Benedictine D.O.M
15ml Sugar Syrup
30ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Scoop homemade mango sorbet
Shake all ingredients except mango sorbet with lots of solid ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a double-old fashioned glass or a small tiki cup glass with new solid ice cubes. Add the mango sorbet on top of the drink and garnish with mint sprigs and a float of Myers rum. - Reuters
* Kara Newman is the author of “The Secret Financial Life of Food”, Columbia University Press; publication date autumn 2012.