Interview with Jimmy Hult – Story Hotel

A few weeks ago, the Swedish qualifying round of the global Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition 2012 took place here in Stockholm, and the bartender who won and will represent Sweden at the finals in Puerto Rico next year is up-and-comer Jimmy Hult. He can be found behind the bar at Story Hotel here in Stockholm, and if you ask him nicely maybe he’ll make his award winning Sin Tiempo cocktail.

Interview with Jimmy Hult – Story Hotel, Trader Magnus
Photo © Sindy Wu

What made you pursue a career in bartending?

The joy of meeting new and interesting people every day, I get to work with flavours and create drinks that the guest will appreciate. It also gives me the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of people with the same interest to share the passion for cocktails, food and service.

When and how did you get your first bartender job?

I started my first bar job about 2,5 years ago when I finished my internship from Hotel And Restaurant School that I did at Nordic Light Hotel. I was supposed to do a waitering internship, but wanted to be in the bar so I told them I was there for a bartender internship. They learned me a lot, gave me a chance to work more and more and then hired me. After a while I went back to school – International Bar Management.

Do you think bartenders get the recognition they deserve?

Media wise? Not as chefs and cooking programs, I think we’re getting there though.We’re getting more recognition as a real profession day by day from the society. But you get recognition more and more every day from all your satisifed guests who are interested in cocktails. And also your great colleagues, that is priceless.

Where have you worked prior to Story Hotel and which place has been most important regarding your knowledge and skills?

All places have given me something to bring down the road. Nordic Light gave me a great start. A short jump in at Bar 101/Scandic Anglais and a couple of shifts at F12 Terrassen were really rewarding routine wise and in speed. Story Hotel has had the biggest influence with great support and inspiration from all my colleagues. And of course all guests who are very educated and interested in food and drinks.

What’s your favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?

When a guest is excited about a drink they want I feel very happy about making their drinks. At the same time the opposite is when a guest is there and doesn’t really care about what they get in their glasses.

Do you have a favourite kind of customer?

Any guest who brings stories and experiences to my bar from around the world. Guests who are passionate about food and drinks and willing to listen and exchange information.

What do you like most about your job?

That every day is different from another. You meet new challenges and get the chance to create a unique drink for all guests. The people you meet are most of the time there because they want to have a nice night out and feel good. When you achieve that, you feel great as well.

Do you have any special strengths or weaknesses as a bartender?

I love food and when I don’t get the time to eat I get a little bit grumpy 🙂 I tend to be really patient with all of my guests 🙂 My striving for finding new flavours.

What do you do in your spare time?

Spending time with my friends. Cooking is also a great interest of mine. When just having a quiet night at home I tend to watch TV series. I also try to find new inspiration and new things to bring back to work.

What do you like to drink when off duty?

Depends on my mood but a beer in good company is never wrong.

What do you have in your private liquor cabinet?

Bits and pieces of everything. Things I picked up on travels, gifts from friends, quite a big selection of vermouths, whiskeys, rums, and gins. I think my bitters collection is decent as well.

What upcoming cocktail trends do you think we can expect in the near future?

My hope is that bars will continue to strive for their own style and niche, but I hope there will be more high volume bars that has the feeling where you can enjoy drinks with friends and family, then later in the evening turn up the tempo and become more lively.

Which are your favourite bars/bartenders around the world and why?

I mean to continue visiting bars around the world but of those I’ve visited so far I must say Dorchester Hotel in London. Their service is spotless. Death & Co NY has given me a great experience, great food, fantastic atmosphere and great drinks. I appreciate bartenders who make good drinks and put their heart and soul into great service.

In your opinion, how do the bars in Stockholm and Sweden compare internationally?

Both the bars and the guys and girls behind them are absolutely matching up international bars but Stockholm is not that big as a city and I think that’s the difference.

What inspires you regarding spirits and cocktails?

Everything – travelling, all different flavours, names, people behind the labels and craftmanship and of course the history behind every single cocktail.

You recently won the Swedish qualifying round of the prestigious Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition – tell me all about it!

The competition was divided into two rounds, the first was to make the drink you find to be the ultimate legacy cocktail. I made a shaken Caipirinha, very simple and delicious.

In the second heat I made my Sin Tiempo cocktail, the presentation was open to the public. So with all the people there the atmosphere was great. I had a great time spending two days with all the other contestants, going to seminars with great lecturing and good fun.

I’m really looking forward to going to Puerto Rico with Richard Chille Man and Björn Kjellberg in February for the finals.

What do you think about cocktail competitions in general?

I find cocktail competitions rewarding if you go in with the thoughts that you want to learn from others and have fun. What the biggest competitions are doing and that is highly appreciated, is that they’re doing seminars and master classes lead by great role models of our industry. Diageo World Class and Bacardi Legacy are great examples of that.

Which of your signature drinks and what else in your career are you most proud of so far?

It’s hard to create something totally new but I love to twist and make drinks more adjusted for the guest today. I find the drink “A Stranger In Cuba” one of my favourites, it’s a twist on a Daiquiri. The drink brings out the best in light rum and gives a round and sweet flavour and still keeps the fresh sourness of the classic Daiquiri.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

I like taking one day at a time, I can’t give you a better answer than that I would like to see myself making even better drinks. With great colleagues, learning new things, travelling and meeting new challenges.

Would you like to share one of your own recipes?

Of course, they are made for drinking.

A Stranger in Cuba
40 ml light rum
10 ml Pomme Verte liqueur
05 ml dark cacao liqueur
25 ml lime juice
15 ml sugar syrup

Shaken and fine strained into a cocktail glass. Lime twist.

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