“O’gshaked“: Munich’s New, Young Bar Scene Under the Radar of the Big Players
New Bars in Munich: The fact that you never have to go thirsty in Munich is news to no one. But this town is also home to some hidden treasures and young bars worth discovering. For some time now, and without making a big fuss, we’ve seen a new generation of bartenders emerging in Munich with audacious new ideas and their own unique visions for filling your glass. Let’s take a closer look.
Schumann’s, Goldene Bar, Zephyr Bar or Pacific Times – No one can complain about a lack of renowned bars or sexy, sophisticated social drinking temples in Munich. Bavaria’s capital city is a virtual mass of class, as evidenced by the four prizes swept up by Munich in the MIXOLOGY BAR AWARDS 2017. But today we’re talking about new bars.
Squint your eyes a little against the blinding glare of all this glory and focus carefully, and you’ll find that the last year or so has been a fateful one for more than the city’s established mixologists and those new bars in Munich currently basking in the spotlight. In recent months, the fertile soil of Munich’s longstanding bar tradition has produced a new crop of young, wild mixology-and-bar creatures and creations. Informed by the city’s classic bar legends and inspired by the talent of young pioneers, a new generation of bartenders has opened their very own pleasure playgrounds and sipping sanctuaries…and all without making a fuss, but with a wealth of daring, imagination, skill, individuality and hard-nosed persistence behind the bar. So it’s definitely worth veering off the beaten path for a thirsty, up-close-&-personal look at this ambitious new class of emerging watering holes: new bars in Munich.
The High – Welcome to High-iami
If the color-coordinated cops from Miami Vice were to go undercover on a mission of cocktail-inspired merriment in Munich, where would they end up? Most likely at The High, opened last spring by Ella Sinds and André Meier in the city’s Glockenbach district. “Sonny” and “Rico” would blend in perfectly with this small bar’s signature décor of flamingo hues on bare walls, a turquoise marble bar and a virtual forest of palms set against metal elements, all created by Ella, a former stylist and designer. But the dapper detectives, accustomed to being mired in mystery, would equally appreciate the aesthetics and clear appeal of The High’s acrylic glass drinks menu and its tempting contents. Case closed.
André began his bar career at Zephyr, first as a bouncer and later as a bartender. At The High, he serves up an array of ever-changing highballs at what feels like light speed, featuring creative combinations and surprising flavors embodying the very idea of fun in a glass. Don’t let the crazy cocktail combos and casual crew in t-shirts and tattoos working to hip-hop bass beats fool you…the quality of the drinks is the top priority for André and Ella. Their vision for The High is to take the foundations of classic mixology as the basis for a new locale capturing the spirit of our times. This means you can just as confidently order an Old Fashioned as you can a Nashi Me made with Amaretini Infused Bulleit Bourbon, cold brew coffee, Nashi pear juice, lemon, simple syrup and soda. The duo’s unconventional, playfully artistic approach is perhaps the key behind The High’s popularity as a hideaway for a truly patchwork clientele. Night in and night out, local skaters sit alongside buttoned-up architects and Munich bar veterans, sipping at a host of small highballs. It all feels a little like having escaped to Miami for a quick break.
Bar Garçon – Classic harmonies with casual chic
There are other ways to do young and wild, too. At Mario Messig’s Bar Garçon, which opened in April of last year, rebellion is tastefully adorned to stirring effect. And speaking of stirring, twenty-something Mario, who earned his stripes previously at the Loretta Bar, serves only stirred drinks at the new bar, his first. His expert touch produces delicious stirred concoctions as balanced and harmonious as the atmosphere at Bar Garçon.
Like his creations in the glass, the interior of Bar Garçon is also the product of Mario’s imagination and skills. A trained architect, his interior design is ambitious and unerring in its pursuit of a laissez-faire vibe. That same pursuit is also reflected in his love of classics and in Bar Garçon’s easygoing menu. Guests at Bar Garçon sit back in 50s-style leather chairs or post up at the low, long, white marble bar that also serves as the bartender’s mixing station. This gives them an up-close view of Mario’s handiwork and a chance for a casual chat with the friendly bar owner. This living-room ambience and personal contact with guests is as important to Mario as the top quality drinks he prepares.
The soft leather-bound menu is filled with a wide range of tasty variations on classic drinks like the Negroni or Manhattan, with the flavor of each drink’s elementary spirits always center-stage. But Mario rounds out these standards with his own unique homemade syrups or juices. Those looking for trendy cocktails jammed into a glass stuffed with a cucumber salad are likely to be disappointed. But one sip of a French Canadian (cognac, port, orange, lime, maple syrup and Angostura bitters) or perhaps a Black Proof (Black Bottle Scotch, Cynar 70 Proof, Cocchi Vermouth Di Amaro and chocolate bitters), will drive the vegetable garden and any other over-the-top folly right out of your mind.
Zum Wolf – Family business, bourbon and blues
Admittedly, after five years, the bar Zum Wolf isn’t exactly a complete member of the new bars in Munich club anymore, but we’ve included this hidden gem anyway. Located in the otherwise predominantly hipster Glockenbach district, even locals are largely unfamiliar with this unassuming bar – and they don’t know what they’re missing. Once you get past the door and owner Wolfgang “Wolfi” Götz, wearing either a welcoming smile or an air of bouncer bravado, depending on his mood, you enter the dimly lit bar room with its red-&-white checkerboard tablecloths and wooden bar. You’d be forgiven for thinking at first you’ve just entered a traditional Bavarian saloon serving beer, beer, and beer.
But while there is in fact fresh helles pale lager on tap at Wolf, don’t be fooled by the rustic atmosphere. Upon closer inspection, connoisseurs will immediately spot the bar’s extensive range of some 300 carefully selected whiskies. The classic rhythm and blues soundtrack and the lovingly arranged framed pictures of the Deep South’s greatest musical luminaries adorning the walls set the tone for a sanctuary of sophisticated drinking culture. Along with sturdy classics, the down-to-earth, laid-back crew behind the bar also whips up clever creations of their own like the Kentucky Lightning, featuring wood-infused Bulleit Bourbon, Laird’s Applejack, honey and bitters. Every sip nudges you further southwards to down-home Dixie-style relaxation. And if it’s not the wolves but your stomach that starts to growl, you can pop right across the street to Munich’s first and only smoker’s restaurant, Little Wolf. Run by, you guessed it, Wolf and his wife Corinna, Little Wolf opened up a year and a half ago. Just keepin’ it in the family, y’all.
Kiss – It’s all about the neighborhood
With a kaleidoscope of fresh fruit and vegetable dealers, kebab shops, and smoky shisha pubs, Munich’s Landwehrstraße road is neither chic nor hip. Instead, it’s a bastion of multicultural vibrancy in the heart of the city. If you were to stumble unawares into this neighborhood, situated between Bahnhof and Westend, pretty much the last thing you’d expect to find would be a high-class bar. So much for expectations, because sandwiched effortlessly in among the colorful storefronts, that’s exactly what you’ll find, and the neighborhood’s exotic traits seem to have almost organically rubbed off on the bar.
With David Metz at the helm, Kiss opened roughly a year ago as an oasis of stimulation and relaxation in equal parts, representing the polar opposite of what’s generally on offer in Munich’s inner-city bars. Kiss is distinct for its oriental-inspired cocktail menu and vegan meze restaurant concept. Once seated in the Nile-green bar area with its entertaining panorama window view of the goings-on outside, guests can immerse themselves in the Raki menu, where each Raki product is listed according to its country of origin. Alternatively, they can try one of Kiss’s signature drinks such as the Baklava Baghdadiye. Made with pistachio nut-infused rum, lemon, honey and rose syrup, this exotic concoction is practically a liquid interpretation of dessert dreams from 1,001 Nights. For less intoxicating refreshment, the congenial Kiss crew can also whip up ambitious oriental-inspired non-alcoholic creations like homemade soft drinks or a delicious passionfruit cinnamon spritzer.
In the near future, Kiss owner and born multi-tasker David Metz will also be spotted more and more at Blitz, the Kiss crew’s latest project. Opened in April, Blitz has transformed the old congress hall on Munich’s Museum Island into a spacious playground housing a restaurant, bar, and club with food and drinks inspired by Latin America.
Kopper – Liquid treasures and purist innovation
Another of our favorite new bars in Munich is Kopper. The clue is in the name when it comes to the décor here, featuring a long copper-colored bar, shiny metallic works of art on the walls and industrial-style lamps fostering an atmosphere of shimmering elegance. But don’t be fooled by the shiny surroundings and the typical Maxvorstadt district’s equally shiny-happy-hipsters. Like the other bars on his list, Kopper is also a thoroughly relaxed, casual locale.
This is partially down to the friendly Kopper team and their dedication to their beloved operations manager Manuel Pinciroli and bar manager Alexander Sevruk. But it’s also due to the way Kopper’s innovative bar and food concept refreshingly colors outside the lines of the super slick spritzer-and-tonic bar menus that prevail in the city’s university district. Guests at the gleaming bar will find neither cocktail classics, familiar favorites nor imaginatively-named new potions. Instead, Kopper’s liquid treasures are named and listed simply on the basis of their main components. For instance, the “Horseradish” combines horseradish-mezcal, tequila, yellow Chartreuse, Fino sherry and limes, and it’s no coincidence that this presentation is reminiscent of the kind of purist menu found at gourmet restaurants. Manager Manuel Pinciroli’s inspiration for Kopper’s menu and concept is inspired by his culinary forays to food temples around the world, and there’s no hiding his special preference for all things South American and Japanese when it comes to food and drink.
So the hungry and the thirsty alike can look forward with mouths watering to a range of mezcal varieties, coupled or not with ingenious dishes like “Udon Noodles Meet Salsa.” And the fact that Kopper opens its doors at lunchtime is an added bonus for daytime cocktail drinkers.
New Bars in Munich: Sights and flavors for every taste
New bars rooted in respect for legendary classics while offering the perfect mix of casual revolt and sophisticated mixology: Munich’s new bar scene is brimming with sights and tastes for all to savor. It is remarkable how this new class of young bartenders and new bars in Munich has dared with such seeming ease to take the precarious leap of opening their own bars here, despite high rents, a discriminating metropolitan clientele and the outstanding quality of their neighboring competitors. Admittedly, their concepts may not be as extreme, even impudent or downright crazy as others found in cities scattered throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. But they certainly have the potential to enrich Munich’s local bar scene and mixology in general with quality-conscious ideas and a refreshingly relaxed bar philosophy – and perhaps even to influence it in a lasting way, one sip at a time.
Translation: Jeff Collier
Foto: Verena Borell