I actually met Steffen at work. While I am rather in charge of events, this talented man is mixing in the VOX bar at the Grand Hyatt Berlin. The funny thing is, we have not spoken until the day I was shooting his drinks…unfortunately I had to learn. Anyways, Steffen found his way into the bar-scene while taking small jobs as a glas runner besides his studies to become a master of business and engineering. So not something unusual one would say, earning some easy money to pay the bills. In his case though, it turned out to be just the right thing as he found his true love for sophisticated and good spirits to be brought together in fine drinks not only I would crave for.
After Steffen had a few jobs here and there he was getting more familiar with the material, doing some easy drinks first, yet still thirsty to learn more about spirits. He says an Old Fashioned was one of the first drinks to learn. „This short drink is made from just a few ingredients, but is still settled as a base for so many future cocktails“. While he was practicing he would learn to have a sense for different flavors, the heritage of spirits and of course how to combine them.
Steffen likes to mix or sometimes stir classics but giving them his special signature. For me a way to go for, as I like to do the same in the kitchen. When we spoke about drinks and the creation of them I could feel his passion, seeing his eyes shine about what he is doing. In the end one can taste exactly that while zipping his beautiful creations.
What makes a good drink?
„Essentially the base has to be balanced. I always strive for perfection and failures are just a part of it. Mixing a good drink starts with thinking about one or two main ingredients and how they are made. So building bridges is an important thing to do for me. I can start off with a classic sour for example, then replacing an ingredient or adding a new one to end up with a complete different liquid. Practicing, improving and having my eyes open is necessary to develop what I am doing“
Your favorite spirits?
„Aged whiskey or rum are on top of my list“, Steffen says. They can easily give a certain deepness and aromatic spectrum to a drink. It does not always need a lot of decoration, the essence is the liquid being used and more important, in the right way.
From Pina Colada to…
The present way goes back to the roots, so people would tend to enjoy simple yet good ingredients. Especially the gin hype was an impulse towards this change for the majority, he says. Every city though has its own scene, passing on trends and changing them a little to something else. A place that inspired him for example was the Becketts Kopf bar in Berlin. Steffen told me, he especially was impressed by the combination of hospitality and skills. That was somewhat five years ago and gave hime another perspective on his craft.
Taking „work“ at home?
He would not be a true bartender if he would just stick to water at home. Sure he likes a good wine with his wife too but he loves having guests to entertain with good drinks. He tries out a lot at home, Steffen told me as the perfect drink is what he aims for.
Any No Go´s?
„Having happy guests is my main focus, even I would not always share their taste. If a guest does not like my way, I am happy to customize his drink but I would have to refuse to mix really aged spirits. These are the types one has to enjoy with its full flavor.“ I guess it is like ordering your steak well done…
The North Shore
Steffen is not only serving you a damn good drink, furthermore he is telling you a story while doing so. In the end you would suddenly taste but also feel his creations. The North Shore is a classic and very accessible drink. It is made of rum, Mezcal, pineapple, lime and to give it a twist: nori and sea salt. Steffen would start to paint a picture in my mind, as he would explain further: „Imagine, having spend a day surfing on Hawaii´s beaches. You enjoy the sun, the ocean and the exercise. Later in the evening you would light a fire, eat fresh and juicy fruit while your skin would still taste salty from the sea. A warm breeze from the ocean would softly blow over your face.“ This is the essence of this beautiful drink Steffen has created which one can truly taste with every zip.
It is a refreshing and slightly smoky drink with a distinctive smell of the ocean. When I took a first taste, the words Steffen just told me turned into pictures, which in the end gave me a very good feeling for this evening. Lucky me, he shares this one with us, so all of you can have a go on his recipe.
Thanks for participating Steffen, I truly enjoyed our session.
For 2 persons
4 cl white Rum
2 cl Mezcal
1 1/2 cl Sugar Syrup
3 cl Pineapple Juice
3 cl fresh Lime Juice
1 pinch Sea Salt
1/2 Nori Leaf
1. Cut the nori leaf in stripes of 2cm x 7cm. Afterwards sprinkle a little water on top to soften them. Now fold the stripes over the edge of the glasses.
2. Add all remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes. Shake the drink for 20 seconds and strain it through a sieve into the glasses.
Für 2 Personen
4 cl weisser Rum
2 cl Mezcal
1 1/2 cl Zucker Sirup
3 cl Ananassaft
3 cl frischer Limettensaft
1 Prise Meersalz
1/2 Nori Blatt
1. Das Nori Blatt in 2cm x 7cm Streifen schneiden und mit etwas Wasser benässen. Nun die weichen Streifen über den Glasrand falten.
2. Alle restlichen Zutaten in einem Shaker mit Eis für 20 Sekunden kräftig shaken. Danach den Drink durch ein feines Sieb in die Gläser abseihen.