René is the head bartender at Ruby in Copenhagen. He makes two cocktails for us, one with pisco and sorrel and the other uses akavit and parsley.
René introduce yourself
Hi, I’m René Hedeland Larsen and I’m head bartender at Ruby in Copenhagen. I’ve been a bartender for the last 10 years now. Whilst I was studying business economics I needed extra money and had a lot of friends in the hospitality industry, so I deciced to do that part-time. I worked in a café for 3 years, then I moved to a nightclub in Jutland. I had a lot of fun but the cocktails were not amazing. I really wanted to concentrate on making excellent cocktails so I moved here 3 years ago part-time, because I was finishing my Masters. I realised I much preferred bartending, so decided to stay here full-time and defer my degree, because I enjoy interacting with clients and love what I do here.
The classic you want to show us
60ml of Pisco
20ml of Lime Juice
20ml of Thyme Honey Syrup
2 leaves of Sorrel
The bar or party you dream of
My bar would be a cross between Ruby and the Clumsies in Athens. I like the fact that you can have a high level craft bar and at the same time on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays a place to party with live music. My dream bar would have three different environments, with 3 different bars. One like Ruby, where we cater for 35-40 people with a prohibition style ambience and music from the forties. The main floor would be like the Clumsies with huge ceilings, a lot of space to dance to loud music. And the third room of my dream bar would be a mix of the two, with an open and rustic style. I would also serve a limited menu of finger food, even though it’s not traditional to have food with cocktails here. My dream bar would probably be in Southern Europe for the sun and the heat, somewhere like the South of France, Greece, Italy or Spain.
When I go out I love to go to cocktail bars, try new things and see what people are doing. Bartenders are very welcoming and I am not afraid to travel alone. I know I can just sit at a bar in any city, have a conversation with the bartender and soon know all the best places to go. I met some great friends in London like that recently. I think London’s the best place for cocktail bars right now (even better than NYC) and lucky for me it’s much closer to Denmark.
The spirit you like the most
For us, it’s important to bring back Danish Akavit and we feature it in cocktails on each menu. Everyone knows Taffel, but most people are used to drinking it as a small shot. It tends to bring back bad memories from teenage years, so customers were a little reluctant to give it a go in the beginning. We always encourage people to really taste it. When they taste it, instead of just downing it like a shot, they tend to like it. It’s surprising. They just have to dare to open their minds and try it.
What makes a good cocktail and which product do you want to highlight at this moment
It’s about balance of course, sweet, salty, umami, it needs to be balanced. I prefer to play with limited ingredients to create more subtle and less bold flavours.
I love to work with powders. At the moment I am working with maltodextrin made from tapioca or beans. We’ve used this maltodextrin with a parsley oil we created so it turns to solid and creates this umami flavoured dust. So this way, what’s on the glass is as much an element of the drink as what’s inside it… just like a margarita with the salt.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
15ml of Mancino Vermouth
10ml of Taffel Akavit
50ml of Dild Aquavit
Dashes of Parsley Oil
Top with Parsley Snow
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender?
I think you have to go to Athens and of course visit The Clumsies. Also Ginjoint to meet Dimitri or Nathalie where they are making great twists on classics with gin. Here in Copenhagen go to Strøm which opened 4 years ago and of course our sister bar, Lidkoeb, as well as Duck and Cover opened by our former colleagues.