Interview with Rikard Enell – Brasserie Le Rouge / Le Bar Rouge

Rikard Enell is the current bar manager at Brasserie Le Rouge / Le Bar Rouge here in Stockholm. Previously, he’s also managed other acclaimed bars in Stockholm as Reisen Bar and Och himlen därtill. To find out more about his view on cocktails and working in a bar, please continue reading…

Interview with Rikard Enell – Brasserie Le Rouge / Le Bar Rouge, Trader Magnus
Photo © Thommy Gyllenbielke

What made you pursue a career in bartending?

When I realized that my nerdy interest for booze and cocktails could be combined with the magic that appears in a restaurant or bar when everything just feels right for some reason. Erik Videgård said in his book Eat me: “It is in the walls. The difference between a dive, a half-decent restaurant and a good restaurant is in the walls. You know it right away. Is it a place where people are passionate about what they’re doing or is it that any place? To work with and at a good restaurant requires commitment, emotion and knowledge.”

When and how did you get your first bartender job?

I ran out of money in the french alps 13 some years ago.

Which of the bars you’ve worked in have been most important for your career and why?

All the places have been important to some extent but I would say my time at Berns was special, probably because Stockholm and Sweden during that time did not have a proper cocktail scene but looking back we did a damn god job! That is probably why most of the guys from that barteam now works as bar managers at top bars around town.

What is your favourite and least favourite drink to make and why?

Least favorite is probably the “it’s my friend’s birthday, can you make him something really disgusting” cocktail. All the others are favorites.

Do you have a favourite kind of customer?

Anyone with a slight interest in what they eat or drink.

What do you like most about your job?

The connection you get with customers.

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

My strength is probably the will to always learn new things. I can become very disappointed in customers and colleagues that misbehave in one way or another.

What do you like to drink when off duty?

It depends on the occasion.

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

I think knowledge will  be even a bigger trend than it is right now, there is still only a handful of bars that are doing “great” things. It would be cool if knowledge and development did not have anything to do with trends. Then we would have really god places that weren’t trendy.

Which are your favourite bars/bartenders and why?

There are a couple of bartenders in this town, that people don’t know about, these guys have worked around the world or some never left town. They never try or want to make a big name for themselves but they are impressing customers every night, these are my favorites! Apart from Le Rouge I would recommend Saddle & Sabre (Stockholm) if you like beer and bourbon, Reisen (Stockholm), Salon 39 (Copenhagen), Death & Company (New York) – the list is too long.

What about spirits and cocktails inspires you?

The never ending history and to be able to use it in a way that gives every customer a special experience in the matter of seconds.

What do you want to achieve regarding cocktails at Le rouge and in general?

To be able to “wow” customers.

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

I’m proud of cocktails I’m creating right now, looking back only wants me to make changes or adjustments. Since I’ve been working for a while people I’ve hired or worked with are starting to become far better bartenders then myself and when I hear that I’ve meant something for them I get proud.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

Then I’ve found a solution to combine my passion for the industry with my even bigger love for my family.

Do you think bartenders get the recognition they deserve?

I don’t think any one in the restaurant business gets the recognition they deserve.

Would you like to share one of your own recipes?

Sure. I made a cocktail for a workshop with Maxxium and No3 Gin called “Trade Routes Cocktail”  which was pretty good. I don’t remember the exact measurements but I’m pretty sure it was:

Trade Routes Cocktail
45ml No3 gin
15ml OP Andersson Aquavit
20ml Wilhelm von Brauns Punsch
3 drops of cardamom bitters

Lemon zest.

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