© Anders Sandberg

Sipping the Stars: Stockholm's Vibrant Cocktail Scene

A decade ago Stockholm may not have been on the global cocktail map, but today it has emerged as a bustling hub for cocktail enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. Falstaff takes you on a journey and unveils the five best cocktail bars in the city.

Over the years the city's cocktail scene has transformed, with an abundance of creative, delicious, and exciting bars offering an array of cocktails that beautifully blend international influences with Nordic flavours. Gone are the days when Stockholm's bartenders looked abroad for inspiration; now they confidently create their own cocktail identities, celebrating locally sourced ingredients, preservation, and fermentation techniques. In fact, Stockholm boasts two bars on the prestigious 'World's 50 Best' list, and the city's cocktail culture has firmly established itself as a cornerstone of Sweden's culinary identity.

Join us on a journey through the Stockholm cocktail scene as we unveil the five best cocktail bars in the city.

Röda Huset - The Red House of Flavour

Sitting proudly in an eclectic building perched on the stairs of Sergel's Square is "Röda Huset", known as "The Red House" in English. It's a place where the lines between a restaurant and a cocktail bar blur beautifully. 'Röda Huset' focuses on Scandinavian cocktail styling, beautifully marrying cocktails and cuisine. The bar works closely with the kitchen, using ingredients such as carbonated Swedish cucumbers, sweet and sour cucumber, cream, and caramel grass. Each cocktail is initially created without alcohol, and the spirits are added as the finishing touch, resulting in unique, multi-layered flavours.

Not only has 'Röda Huset' made a significant impact on Stockholm's cocktail scene, but it has also earned global recognition. In 2022, it debuted at No. 78 on the 'World's 50 Best Bar' list and swiftly climbed to No. 31 in 2023. Their signature cocktail, "Caramel Grass with Cream," is a delightful blend of sweetness and creaminess, offering a rich and rounded mouthfeel. To complement the cocktails, 'Röda Huset' offers a delectable selection of middle-sized dishes, making it a perfect spot for those seeking a complete dining and drinking experience.

Cadierbaren at the Grand Hotel - A Tribute to Swedish Nature

Located within the opulent Grand Hotel, dating back to 1874, 'Cadierbaren' is a beacon of luxury in the heart of Stockholm. Anton Windmar, the creative genius behind the bar, studied his craft in London and previously plied his trade at 'The Langham', another five-star establishment.

'Cadierbaren' recently updated its cocktail menu to pay tribute to Swedish nature. The cocktail menu, updated annually, takes guests on a journey that combines Swedish raw materials with international influences. Collaborating with local design artists, the bar creates an immersive experience for patrons.

One standout cocktail is "Snowy Mountains", made with 7-year-old cask-fermented Eminente rum, homemade cloudberry wine, and moss. Served in a frozen glass and adorned with a snowy mountain motif, it's a visual and flavour masterpiece. Another gem is "Rauk," a concoction featuring Bacardi Ocho, Boge Bränneri Akka, Cocchi Americano, salm berries, thyme, wild garlic, and minerals, all presented in a glass inspired by the rauks found on the Swedish island of Gotland.

For an equally enchanting experience, don't miss the "Venice of the North" cocktail, crafted from Hendrick's gin, plum cordial, Spriteriets sloe berry liqueur, ratafia de champagne, and Ruinart champagne. Cadierbaren is not just a bar; it's a watering hole where you can rub shoulders with superstars, business magnates, and international guests.

A Bar Called Gemma - A Hidden Treasure

Hidden in downtown Stockholm, "A Bar Called Gemma", masterminded by the talented and award-winning bartender Johan Evers, offers an escape from the city's bustling streets. The entrance may be inconspicuous, but a wooden sign points the way to a different world.

Once inside, you'll find yourself enveloped in a cosy and immersive atmosphere. Dark decor, a neon monkey mural, leather sofas, and barstools transport you to far-off places like Asia or New York. "Gemma" stands for Generosity, Emotional, Mindful, Multilateral, and Artisan, encapsulating the essence of this remarkable bar.

The cocktail menu is a testament to creativity, balance, and global flavours. "Gemma," a refined Gin Sour-style cocktail, boasts preserved pink grapefruit lime, honey, caster sugar, apple cider vinegar, and salt, creating a citrusy sweetness with depth and a hint of bitterness. This delightful concoction is further enhanced with a kick of ginger and 24-hour macerated pistachio sake.

A Bar Called Gemma is a hidden gem, offering a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere, ideal for a night of escape and indulgence.

"Lucy's Flower Shop" - The Speakeasy Sanctuary

Lucy's Flower Shop is a true speakeasy, located in the heart of Stockholm's city centre. Its entrance is discreet, leading to a cosy, fictive flower shop adorned with red and lilac velvet drapes. Step inside, and you'll find yourself in a secret, magical world.

Lucy's Flower Shop has a minimalist approach to ingredients. Cocktails are crafted with only a few seasonal components, and acidity is derived from vinegar. One of their signature creations, "Rye & Apple," features Michter's Rye, Cox orange apples, apple and malt vinegar, delivering fresh apple notes, a tangy vinegar twist, and smoky rye depth. The "Marzipan & Cream'' cocktail, infused with Nandini Mandorla, Empirical Spirits Plum I suppose, Umeshu, Arla Unika cream, and egg white, is reminiscent of indulging in a marzipan candy bar dipped in spirits.

Lucy's Flower Shop prides itself on no-fuss cocktails in a super cosy ambience, but be sure to book ahead, as they have limited seating.

"Tjoget" - The Timeless Classic

Established eleven years ago in Hornstull, Södermalm, "Tjoget" holds a special place in the heart of Stockholm's cocktail aficionados. It's a spacious, relaxed venue with a beer café and wine bar on one side and a central bar at its heart. The atmosphere is welcoming, catering to a diverse clientele.

"Tjoget" primarily focuses on classic American drinks, accompanied by a seasonal menu that adds a touch of Mediterranean flair. Their signature cocktail, "Beets by Tjoget", is a vodka-based masterpiece, combining beets, coconut, nutmeg, and ginger. The result is a unique blend of flavours that never disappoints. On Fridays and Saturdays, Tjoget transforms into a nightclub with a DJ, offering a vibrant nightlife experience in addition to its cocktail prowess.

In the ever-evolving world of cocktails, Stockholm has truly made its mark. Whether you're seeking a fusion of Swedish and international flavours or an escape into a secret speakeasy, Stockholm's cocktail bars have something to offer every discerning palate. Embrace the Nordic flavours and savour the creative, delicious, and complex cocktails that make Stockholm's bar scene truly extraordinary.

Tove Oskarsson Henckel