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Sune Urth

On a mission to bring aquavit into the 21st century

Bar manager at No2 Sune Urth is a thorough man of his craft. The tonic in his “Linie & Tonic” is homemade (so he can vary the taste as the seasons change, obviously). He heats and pressurizes his ”Nordic Negroni” before aging it (so as to ”cheat” the alcohol to better integrate). He has punch on tap. He makes his own mead. He makes his own gin, his own coffee liqueur and his own aquavit at Copenhagen Distillery.

This may give you a hint as to the level of knowledge on alcohol and taste we are dealing with here. What you may not have guessed is that Sune was a public servant before becoming a craft bartender. As a public servant, Sune was successful because he brought his bartending approach to service into the way he treated people applying for various permissions from the authorities. Instead of plainly dismissing a faulty request, he would guide the applicant towards the best possible application for permission. Much like a good bartender will guide you towards the best drink for your own taste.

It was an uphill battle however, and even the fanmail he received could not stop him from returning to the bar. This is when he ended up as part of the first passionate team at Ruby (probably the most renowned cocktail bar in Copenhagen). During his time here, Sune developed an interest in aquavit, and after wanting to pursue his own way of doing things outside Ruby, he got offered to manage the bar at at the Nordic bar and bistro No2. Sune liked the idea of working alongside chefs and his only demand was that whatever they did, it had to be rewarding professionally.

Sune is a true aquavit evangelist. So much so, that he is extending his writing career (he’s already written “Cocktails for hjemmebryggere”) with a book dedicated to the spirit coming out spring 2017. Sune is intrigued by aquavit because most young Danes sadly have developed an aversion to the alcohol. We tend to drink it ice cold in magnificent plentitude as fast as possible and we associate it with Uncle Torben dropping his pants before the heering is served. Who would not grow up to dislike such a drinking ritual?

Sune wants reclaim aquavit from the claws of remembrance and honor the cultural heritage that it represents. Rather than uncle Torben and extreme hangovers, when foreigners are presented to aquavit for the first time they associate very different things with it such as passionfruit, lemon and pepper. The average buyer of aquavit in Denmark today is 60 years old and is not getting younger, so Scandinavian bartenders are faced with the challenge of making it cool to drink again.

So the next time you are shopping for your home bar consider an interesting aquavit and test it in a cocktail. For inspiration see Sune’s Green Od Fashioned or Amber & Wine, Beetroot Basher or No Name Cherry Fizz from Duck and Cover, Grøn & Hvid from Lidkoeb or our own Erik the Red. Help Sune (and the rest of us) reinvent aquavit and bring it into the 21st century!

If you’d like to educate your brain a bit more with alcohol, watch this TEDx talk by Sune and learn how aquavit doesn’t have to be the saber tooth tiger you think it is:

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Martin Millard
Corporate slut by day, cocktail enthusiast by night. On a neverending path to become cocktail expert, partly through visiting Copenhagen's and the world's best watering holes, partly through an ever-expanding homebar. #whiskeywednesdays makes every humpday a good one.